To Be A MiSFiT: Solange Knowles
As we began to unwind from what is considered to be the ‘most important night‘ of any musician’s career, I had to start this particular post by congratulating Solange on her big win. Last night, Solange Knowles won her very first Grammy award for best R&B Performance for her now Grammy award winning album, ‘A seat at the table’ released September of 2016. It would seem like the only proper time to speak of her accomplishments and how powerful her black girl magic truly is.
When I started the thought process of this series, I didn’t have the slightest idea of where I wanted this series to go. I wasn’t sure of who exactly I was going to write about, or even how I was going to write about them. I wanted to just wing it as I went along. But in the end, I ended up intuitively writing to different aspects of myself. When I wrote about Jaden Smith, I was writing to 17 year old Megan. The girl who had her whole life ahead of her, that young person who knew what she wanted to be in life, but unfortunately let life pass her by. I wanted to remind the world that the youth is the future, and that we are responsible for influencing their thinking. As oppose to writing of Pharrell, I was talking to the creative in me. The part of me that craves to be understood, yet loves being seen as a misunderstood individualist. The part of me that is always looking to push the envelope and do so much more. This particular post however is different, because I am not talking to the youth in me, or even the creative in me, but me as a black woman in America. Now this isn’t specifically for black women, because I am sure there is something about Solange that everyone can relate to. I only hope to speak fluently as possible of the liberation and optimistic nature of her self-love efforts and black girl magic movement.
During a conference in October of 2016, Solange and Melissa Harris-Perry took the stage at the CEMEX Auditorium for an intimate conversation about the Black girl magic movement. As Solange has always prided herself as an unapologetically woman, an unapologetically black woman, she spoke very vividly of her experiences and anger of what was occurring around her in America. I see ‘A seat at the table‘ as a Compilation of journal entries made into an album that is for the people. An album that reflects powerful messages of African American pride, received high praises from celebrities like Tracee Ellis Ross and Janelle Monae. A moment of pure honesty that has brought on questions of what could of possibly inspired such a strong message from Beyoncé’s little sister. “When I think of the black aesthetic, I think of archiving all of these things, all these little fractures of moments of my life,” Solange started. “It was one of the best things I could have ever done as a mother, as a wife – as a woman. All these things I had so much anger and resentment towards, I understood so much clearer. It brought my son’s father and me closer together.”
With the creative music and art inspired Saint Heron website, Solange helps to glorify the diversity and progression in music and in culture. As a part of their mission statement for Saint Records, an independent record label Solange started after leaving Interscope records, Saint Records is described as a space for ingenious artists to create their music and circulate their art.”The intent of the album, and the label at large, is to feature, highlight and align a new movement of contemporary, genre-defying R&B visionaries, which will serve as a segue into the diverse evolution of these independent artists as they share their voices and words as only they can – through pure, unadulterated music.”
Alongside of being an fashion icon in her own right, along with sister Beyoncé, Solange has been a staple of the loving your beautiful black hair campaign. When Solange decided to go natural and do the BIG CHOP, it brought on a lot of strong reactions from society, where as it has also influenced and encouraged women of color to do the same. Throughout the years since the decision of going natural, Solange has sported some of the most beautiful and nostaglic afro hairstyles. During an interview with her mother Tina Lawson that was featured on her Saint Heron website, Solange spoke about the inspiration of her track, ‘Dont touch my hair‘.
I believe that hair is incredibly spiritual, and, energetically, it really encompasses and expresses who we are. Obviously, my relationship with hair, being that I grew up literally in a hair salon, is very deep and very complex. I think that one of the things that I’m also trying to communicate through that song [“Don’t Touch My Hair”] is the way that people see us through our hair. It’s almost my India.Arie “I Am Not My Hair” moment. I feel like when I cut my hair and I decided to wear my hair natural, I didn’t feel any more pro-Black or like I identified any more or less in my walk as a Black woman. That just wasn’t my personal journey. I think I’ve been on so many fashion shoots and anything in regards to fashion, which is still a predominantly white industry, and also feeling the void of tokenism through my hair being an afro and what that meant to the fashion world. There was a fashion editor of a major magazine who was white and for Halloween she wore an afro wig and had black face and called herself Solange. There was another magazine that composed celebrity-look-alikes, and they used a dog for me. They talked about my hair being like one of a dog, literally. So, hair just became so complex for me. I remember my mother came with me on a two-show run that I did, and all of the micro-aggressions of us traveling within those four days had me noting to her that whenever I would wear my hair straighter, I would typically have an easier time traveling. So, the song is as much as what it feels like to have your whole identity challenged on a daily basis, although physically touching the hair is extremely problematic!
Whether she is influencing her sister Beyoncé or conversing with other future prodigies such as Amandla Stenberg, Solange has moved to the forefront of the empowerment of black women that is so desperately needed. ‘A seat at the table’ serves not only as one of Solange’s greatest masterpieces, but it also serves as a reminder to white America that although Black women tends to be one of the most disrespected people in the world, there is strength in numbers. Solange may not be the beginning of the trend, but she is certainly not the end of it. She will continue on to inspire those around her to love themselves and their blackness just the way they are.