NEW ORLEANS — Janelle Monáe has worked her way up through the ranks at Essence Music Festival, which celebrates 20 years this weekend. She has played the festival's "superlounges" tucked away in corners of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and last year she graduated to the main stage. She'll be part of tonight's main stage lineup as well, along with Nile Rodgers of Chic and Prince.
"I'm so excited to play on stage with (Prince)," she says. "He's the reason I'm here."