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Soul Train Awards 2023: 5 Things to Know About 'Spirit of Soul' Winner Janelle Monáe

They made history as the first genderless honoree.

At the "Soul Train Awards 2023," hosted by Keke Palmer, singer and actress Janelle Monáe achieved a historic milestone by becoming the inaugural recipient of the "Spirit of Soul Award." This accolade, formerly known as the “Lady of Soul Award,” reflects the diversity and inclusivity embraced by this year's recipient. Additionally, Monáe became the first genderless honoree to receive this prestigious trophy. As we look back at another amazing celebration of R&B and soul, get familiar with this year’s “Spirit of Soul Award” recipient with these five interesting facts. 

  • They identify as nonbinary

    In April 2022, Monáe revealed their nonbinary identity during an appearance on “Red Table Talk.”  “I’m nonbinary, so I just don’t see myself as a woman, solely … I feel like god is so much bigger than the ‘he’ or the ‘she.’ And if I am from God, I am everything,” they shared. 

  • They worked in retail before finding fame.

    Via a response to a fan, Monàe revealed that they had once worked at Office Depot while she was attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. Their experience reportedly inspired them to write the song “Lettin’ Go.”

  • They made an animated transition into film

    Monáe made her first film appearance in the animated sequel “Rio 2” as Dr. Monáe, a veterinarian. This marked her first movie and voice acting role.

  • The made “Soul Train Awards” history

    Monáe became the first recipient and non-binary honoree to receive the “Spirit of Soul Award” at the “Soul Train Awards” 2023, hosted by Emmy-nominated actress and singer Keke Palmer

  • They Share An Emmy With The Obamas

    They were a recipient of one of the first Children’s and Family Emmy Awards. They earned the award for their work on a show titled “We the People” alongside producers Barack and Michelle Obama and fellow writers like H.E.R., Andra Day, and more.  

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