“My trans brother and sisters, they do it every day. And they are shunned from these sorts of events. So this one is for them,” Monáe told Malkin.
“Being a young Black queer woman in America, there was something I had to say and there was a group of people that I wanted to celebrate, and I’m happy to be representing them,” said Monáe.
“I hope they feel seen; I hope they feel heard; I hope they feel loved, and I hope they feel celebrated. This is for you!” she told Variety.
Zach Manzi, a prodigal classical music composer who last year created an immersive musical experience connecting the stories of trans lives in Miami, opined on the significance of the recognition.
Manzi said of Monáe’s declaration: “Art is about creating a bridge between peoples who are dissimilar in one way or another, and it can be a powerful way to broaden empathy for those who are seen as “the other.” For an organization like the Grammy Awards to host and honor trans artists would be a small step in saying, “yes, we see you, we hear you, and we love you.” I am grateful that people with platforms like Monáe are putting out this message.”
The 25-year-old wunderkind is the Co-Artistic Director and a clarinetist in Conduit a group that is currently in residence at the Frost School of Music at University of Miami as the Knight Fellowship Ensemble. Conduit’s objective in this fellowship is to design and produce three alternative concert formats for millennial-aged audiences in Miami.
Manzi explains how music can be more transformative than hearing words He explains that music is an implicit form of expression, rather than an explicit one like speech. It can communicate emotional complexities where words fall short. “I believe the greatest power of music is in combining it with story, to augment the emotional expression of words and images. Hearing music in this context can help one gain empathy for those who are different, especially those one is inclined to see as “the other.” I think more projects that tell stories with music about real human issues need to be brought into the world, as they have the power to help people identify with others on a human level, especially those who are negatively impacted by policies set in place by our governments.”
“I’m a gay classical musician. In my field, being an openly gay man is generally accepted. Being trans is a whole other issue. This is disheartening to me, that my trans brothers and sisters may not feel they can be open, but it doesn’t surprise me given the slowness of classical music to catch up with the rest of the world. However, it really blows my mind that other genres are still othering trans folks. Janelle Monáe is sharing a message that all artists should be sharing, that trans artists are artists. Period.”