Alex Witt | July 06, 2013
>>> one superstar attending the essence festival is janelle minay. president obama called her incredibly talented after she performed at one of his reelection rallies. she will close out with a performance at the superdome.
>> janelle , you talked much about your background in kansas city . when i think about your music now and i see this reaction that the fans have for you, it all goes back to your family.
>> yes, it does. i'm so thankful. i always told myself the biggest blessing was growing up in kansas. and not in a middleclass or rich family but a poor family. we didn't know that we were poor because i was always surrounded around love. my parents were hard working class people. my mom was a janitor. my father, stepfather treated me just like his own, post office workers and trash man. my family worked for the community. so i wore my black and white to honor them and remind them that this is work for me. i have to continue to help serve the community.
>> we often say that nothing is new. there are so few originals. you are an original in a sea of sameness. in a sea of people who read way too many us weeklies. here you emerge like this phoenix.
>> oh, wow. well, thank you. i think that as a woman, as an african- american woman in today's music industry my goal has been to promote diversity and to show the world we're not all monolithic and the same. i remember growing up being in middle school and high school , there were not a lot of people that looked like me, had the same morals, values. i think it's important to give young girls options in a world where they're trying to figure something out.
>> is that part of the inspiration behind my song that stays on my iphone. you know what it is.
>> queen. i wake up to it, go to sleep to it. before i do any show, i listen to it. what was the inspiration?
>> just wanting to do something that empowered women, that empowered those who feel marginalized as well. i did the song with erykah badu , a great friend of mine. it's a private discussion between us . i documented it and we put it into words in a song. it's about, again, sanding up for those people who feel marginalized, whether you're gay, ex commuted because you standing up.
>> the underdogs.
>> absolutely. and i felt like it was so important. and doing the song with another female, i want people to know the music industry is not about fighting or being jealous. it's about rivalry, lifting each other up and two stars can shine at the same time.
>> that's part of the camaraderie we hope is from essence festival. looking at progression. the cover girl ad.
>> thank you.
>> is the most beautiful thing.
>> thank you so much. i feel -- again, i would have never thought i would be a cover girl. i think they're doing something very important by the roster of women that they have. queen latifah , who is incredible, ellen. and me. having myself is just -- helps other people really embrace those things and make it unique. even if it makes others uncomfortable. i'm trying to do all i can with such a big platform to be of some inspiration for young girls growing up.
>> you are certainly an inspiration. i appreciate your time.
>>> well, janelle with erykah badu comes out this fall. our