Skill, Grace and Style – Catching Up with Janelle Monae Bassist Brandon Gilliard.

Get ready to meet a rising star who is as down to earth as they come.

For this journalist the most rewarding part of the profession is watching talented artists grow and succeed - and Bassist Brandon Gilliard is one of the most deserving I can think of. The ever stylish and laid back bass expert is currently holding down the low end with popular Cover Girl spokeswoman and Grammy nominee Janelle Monae. His work in music has taken him everywhere from Martin Luther King Jr.’s church to a performance at Coachella just this past weekend. I caught up with Brandon recently in Atlanta, GA and got to ask him a few questions about the whirlwind his life has become. You can follow the whirlwind for yourself at!

Tell our readers a bit about what you do.

I play bass with an artist named Janelle Monae, she’s signed to Atlantic records and was just on the Grammys. I’ve been playing with her for about a year. We’ve done a lot of different shows. Everything from the White House, to the Sydney Opera House, we even did a show with Prince. That was great. Every show’s been something pretty special. When I’m not on the road with her I play with pretty much anybody else.


How long have you played bass?

I’ve been playing since I was eight. I’m old now (laughs), I’m 29. Growing up I always played in church, played in my daddy’s quartet group, stuff like that. I did marching band. Marching band’s not really a gig, but you know (laughs). I was a music major and I gigged when I could, when I didn’t have class. Then after college I moved to Atlanta and I’ve been hitting it pretty hard since then. I had been gigging full-time for six years before I ever got my first road gig with an artist signed to a big label.

Who’s the coolest person you’ve met so far in your travels?

I met Prince. Prince is really cool. He has a really deep voice. He… he’s Prince. (laughs) He’s always Prince.

Who are your favorite artists besides Prince?

Brad Paisley. Funny enough I like a lot of the country artists. For one thing, in the music the bass players and the drummers really lock a lot of times. So you know, all of Brad Paisley’s albums have been great, I guess that says a lot about him but it says a lot about all of the session musicians too. I love Miranda Lalmbert, I love Earth, Wind and Fire, I met those guys in California. It was cool.

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