Singer-songwriter Janelle Monae went all-American at a performance in Los Angeles last month. Chris Pizzello | Invision/AP

KCK's Janelle Monáe coming to Starlight Theatre as part of new citywide arts fest

Kansas City Mayor Sly James announces Janelle Monae as a headlining act for Kansas City's Open Spaces art festival, which runs from Aug. 25-Oct. 28. Conner Mitchell |

Finally, Janelle Monáe is coming back to Kansas City.

Mayor Sly James on Monday announced that Monáe, The Roots and Vijay Iyer will be the featured performers of a new two-month-long arts festival, Open Spaces.

The concerts will be held at Starlight Theatre over the Oct. 12-14 weekend. Swope Park will serve as a hub for Open Spaces, which will be a "citywide celebration of contemporary visual and performing art," according to its website. It will be held from Aug. 25-Oct. 28.

According to a press release, four tiers of tickets will be available for the weekend performances, ranging from $39.50 to $99. Sunday tickets will be available for either $20 or $50. Open Spaces is also offering a full Weekend ticket package for $350, which includes premium front section seating to all 11 performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets go on sale Friday, July 13, at 10 a.m. A complete calendar listing is available at OpenSpacesKC.com.

“We are especially thrilled to have Janelle headline the celebration,” James said at a news conference Monday at the Starlight Theatre. “She is an absolutely delightful, really innovative, creative person, right here from our own region … She represents everything that Open Spaces is about.”

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Monáe, a Kansas City, Kan. native, hasn’t headlined in her hometown since 2013, when she performed at the Uptown Theater. A six-time Grammy nominee, Monáe released her latest album, “Dirty Computer,” in April. She had roles in Oscar-winning films “Hidden Figures” and “Moonlight.” She's also made headlines for coming out as pansexual and for her provocative videos.

In 2017, the Kansas City Heritage and Jazz festival mistakenly announced that she was headlining the event, leading Monáe to tweet that the news was an "alternative fact."

But love apparently was not lost. After she announced her "Dirty Computer" tour in April and no Kansas City stop was included, she tweeted: "KC I have not forgotten about you."

The Roots is a three-time Grammy-winning band from Philadelphia that has been actively touring since 1987. Currently, The Roots serve as the house band on NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

Iyer is a jazz pianist, composer and Harvard professor from Albany, New York.

The headlining announcement comes a month after festival organizers initially announced 45 performance artists encompassing a range of genres. James said the diversity among the performance and visual artists will make the festival truly representative of Kansas City’s arts scene.

“Open Spaces is going to bring together people of Kansas City and surrounding regions in a way that will put our city on the map in terms of arts and culture and also in a way of bringing some unity to this city at a time when unity seems to be in short supply in this country,” James said.


KCK's Janelle Monáe coming to Starlight Theatre as part of new citywide arts fest