Grammy-nominated singer, actor and activist Janelle Monáe and Belvedere Vodka culminated their 2019 “A Beautiful Future” collaboration with an intimate, invite-only dinner at The Fairmont in Atlanta on Dec. 5.
In June, Monáe and the premium spirit launched the campaign with the Belvedere Vodka x Janelle Monáe limited-edition, custom bottle bearing Monáe’s signature.
According to an early press release, “A Beautiful Future” is “a nod to Monáe and Belvedere’s shared vision of a future where natural character, integrity, diversity, and self-expression are celebrated.” The partnership was launched after the premium spirit hosted Monáe’s brunch for her grassroots movement, Fem the Future, supporting women in independent media and film last year. In addition, Monáe heads Wondaland Arts Society, which some liken to her late mentor Prince’s Paisley Park with its roster of artists, various creative ventures and recording studios.
Dallas Austin, Rotimi, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Brad James and Jamie Chung joined Monáe as she used the occasion to honor three Atlantans who share the same vision of a future where equality, diversity and self-expression reign. The honorees were artist/scholar Fahamu Pecou, The Guild founder/CEO Nikishka Iyengar and OMNoire founder Christina Rice.
Rice’s Atlanta-based OMNoire creates safe spaces focused on wellness for women of color through workshops, events and retreats. Iyengar’s The Guild, which is focused on building wealth, cultural and financial, brings change agents from diverse backgrounds together in custom co-living spaces in Atlanta to help them succeed in their various ventures.
Pecou is known for his work exploring representations of black masculinity and identity. His work has been exhibited at the High Museum of Art and he’s painted several murals around town. During the cocktail portion of the evening, Pecou shared what Monáe’s recognition meant to him.
“To have someone like Janelle Monáe acknowledge the work that I’ve been doing and [for her] to say that ‘this is a person that I think has been making a difference’ is a really humbling thing. Just to be seen by her is a really great honor. But even more than that, it’s an affirmation that the efforts I’ve been making are being impactful and that they have a benefit to the community,” Pecou said.
“Janelle is one of the good people in the industry and Belvedere has also been very good to me in the past” is why part-time Atlantan Rotimi, who stars as Dre in the Starz phenomenon “Power,” attended the event.
Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours chef/owner Deborah VanTrece worked with Monáe on a menu that included a lobster bisque served with a lobster Carolina beignet as well as chicken breast stuffed with Georgia apple, pecan and chicken sausage. VanTrece was excited to collaborate with Monáe.
“The menu, really the inspiration for it was Janelle Monáe herself, her history,” VanTrece said. “She was born in Kansas City [,Kansas], which is where I’m from [Kansas City, Missouri but ‘it’s just like a street across’] and then also being here in Atlanta and planting roots here. So we wanted to stick with a Southern menu. She handpicked the items. She gave me a little bit of free range to produce things that she wanted to see and then get an idea of what I do and then we got it together.”
Kicking off the dinner portion of the program, held in a candlelit room bathed in blue, Monáe joyfully referenced her Dec. 1 birthday by announcing that “this is Sag season.” She also acknowledged her mother who was seated across from her.
“I started my career here. I started my dreams here and I see some folks in the house: Dallas Austin you have been a huge inspiration to me and to Wondaland. I see Keshia Knight Pulliam and the artists St. Beauty who are part of the Wondaland collective,” she informed her dinner guests.
As she briefly recounted her rise from living in a boarding house in Atlanta, Monáe encouraged her guests to fellowship. After the portion in the program where each honoree spoke, Monáe let everyone know that she was “super thankful for these individuals.”
“I hope you’re feeling this energy in the room like I am. You guys are making an impact in the A-Town,” she said in her closing remarks.
The limited edition of Belvedere Vodka x Janelle Monáe will be available until it sells out.
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