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Janelle Monae "Possessed" by Holy Spirit of Funk

Watching Janelle Monae perform live is like watching a frenzied minister at a Baptist revival. The funk singer works herself into a trance-like state. High-pitched screaming, flailing and jerking are all part of her repertoire.

“I get filled with the Holy Ghost. It's a spirit that comes over me, and I get very possessed by that spirit,” says Monae. “Sometimes I don't know exactly what it is that I've done.  But after watching footage, I'm like wow -- how did that happen!?”

The petite Kansas City native has a mean set of pipes, and she knows how to use them. She doesn’t have much formal training. Six years ago, Monae briefly studied at New York’s American Musical And Dramatic Academy. She left because, she says, she "didn't want to be too influenced by standardized teachings."   

Monae likes to perform for live audiences and keep the shows loose.

“I don't try to choreograph too much.  I try to create art for my audience because they appreciate it.”

Witness Janelle Monae in action here as a guest on Studio 360 With Kurt Andersen: Live From The Greene Space.