Janelle Monáe breaks down in tears during emotional live-stream: ‘I'm not going to be able to get through this song’

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·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music
·4 min read
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  • Janelle Monáe
    Janelle Monáe
    American singer

On Thursday evening, Grammy-nominated multi-hyphenate Janelle Monáe performed a special concert direct from her home for Pay It Forward Live, Verizon’s weekly streaming entertainment series in support of small businesses affected by COVID-19. While her overall performance seemed more like a theatrical spectacle than a typical living room live-stream — she appeared in a crimson-lit, dry-ice-fogged, heavily reverbed lair, flanked by her futuristic mannequin band, the Andrettes — there was one quite hushed and intimate moment, when Monáe virtually serenaded a fan and became too choked-up to continue.

"Fandroids, I’m going to need your help to get me through this. This is a lot. …I'm not going to be able to get through this song,” Monáe confessed as she sat on her knees on the floor, imploring viewers at home to sing along instead.

Monáe had just finished FaceTiming with a “fandroid” named Angel, the proprietor of Eden’s Glow, an independent New Jersey company that sells handmade candles and soaps. With Angel still on a nearby, propped-up iPad, Monáe then began beautifully crooning Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” — a song that has become an unofficial coronavirus crisis anthem of sorts, since Lady Gaga covered it earlier this month on the “One World: Together at Home” salute to first responders. But Monáe had barely started before she had to take a long pause. At first, it was unclear why she had stopped, but viewers soon realized that she was simply too overcome with emotion.

After Monáe halted mid-song for a second time, she decided to instead deliver an impassioned and unscripted speech, while still sitting on her pink floor, as Angel watched on.

“This is a time that community is so important, and it's really great that we can lean on one another during these times,” Monáe began. “And I just want to let you guys know that we're going to come out on the other side. There will be a vaccine. So just remember, then, those who have lost families and friends, who have lost loved ones and couldn't be with them as they transitioned. I see you. I love you. I’m praying for you. Those who are unable to get tests, those who have to listen to this administration, the lack of resources we have right now to financially make it through this, I'm with you. I'm right there with you. We're right there with you. We're all going through different stages of this.”

Eventually, Monáe regained her composure, finished “Smile,” and, having run out of time, ended her goosebump-raising performance with a triumphant mic-drop.

Earlier in the night, Janelle was in party mode, performing like she had a real club audience in front of her as she rocked out with her Andrettes to “Make Me Feel,” the very fitting “Locked Inside,” and “Say You’ll Go,” which she dedicated to her late mentor, Prince. She also called another entrepreneur, Alisa Reynolds of the L.A. restaurants My Two Cents and Tacos Negros, and encouraged viewers to order Reynolds’s takeout soul food online. Monáe’s entire emotional-rollercoaster, rock ‘n’ roll concert can be viewed on demand here for one week.

Over the course of Pay It Forward Live, viewers are encouraged to tag their favorite local businesses and do what they can to support them — shop online, make a purchase in advance for when the crisis is over and the businesses reopen, or order a meal. More information can be found at Verizon.com/PayItForwardLive.

Verizon is the parent company of Yahoo.

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides.

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