The 79th Stern Grove Festival begins on Sunday, June 19 with none other than Janelle Monáe.
The effortlessly chic, 30-year-old Kansas native will headline the festival's opening benefit, The Big Picnic, a free concert that begins at 2 p.m. It's preceded by a ticketed event, The Big Picnic Party, that's on the pricey side (tickets start at $250) but which helps fund an entire summer of top-notch programming for the whole city to enjoy.
[jump] While Monáe has been nominated for a Grammy six times and starred in a Super Bowl ad, she's hovers around the intersection of mainstream and alternative. She lent her vocals to fun.'s “We Are Young” a few years ago, and garnered considerable acclaim last year with “Hell You Talmbout,” a protest track that revolved around the Black Lives Matter sub-meme #SayHerName. At six-and-a-half minutes, it's both a roll call of African-Americans who died at the hands of the police and a showcase for members of her Wondaland Arts Society, like St. Beauty, George 2.0 and Roman GianArthur.
Recognized for her starkly black-and-white outfits and punctilious choreography, Janelle Monáe's live shows combine the sharpness of a tuxedo with allure of elaborate stagecraft. She's an Afrofuturist dandy, the child of Annie Lennox and Josephine Baker, and she claims to date only androids.
The remainder of the Stern Grove Festival lineup, running every Sunday at 2 p.m. from June 19 – Aug. 21, won't be announced until May 1. But you know there'll be something for everybody, as 2015's lineup ran from the San Francisco Symphony to Morris Day and the Time to tUnE-yArDs.
Stern Grove Festival Big Picnic with Janelle Monáe, Sunday, June 19, 2 p.m., at Sigmund Stern Grove, 19th Ave. at Sloat Blvd.