WRITTEN BY ANDI LOPEZ
You may know her as Beyoncé’s little sister, but make no mistake - Solange has earned a name in her own right.
Her third studio album, A Seat at the Table, is a gracious protest that focuses on issues like racism and misogyny. From the cover art to the tone of her songs, everything in this album has been constructed deliberately to reflect a message of strength and empowerment in a seamless way.
Cranes in the Sky is one of my personal favourites from this album and is what introduced me to Solange’s work. It’s a song she wrote in her 20’s during a transitional period in her life, which is just oh-so relevant to many of us right now. It narrates a story of avoidance, of building walls higher and higher, until you can no longer see the ugly truth that’s staring you down. And if that doesn’t perfectly describe the struggles of your 20’s then I don’t know what does!
Don’t be fooled by the softness in her voice, Solange’s lyrics are hard hitting. The song Don’t Touch My Hair is a prime example of the singer’s experiences as an African American woman. She describes how her hair represents much more than meets the eye, and indirectly references the ignorance that comes along with being a woman of colour.
Solange addresses these issues all while maintaining a gentle melody - a trope for the challenges that women face when speaking up. Women, especially black women, are often portrayed as angry, emotional, and out of control whenever speaking out and standing up for themselves. Think, Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open, and the unfair backlash she received for calling out sexism. Women of colour are almost always unfairly represented in the media, however Solange breaks these stereotypes down even through to her music videos.
The visuals that accompany Cranes in the Sky and Don’t Touch My Hair speaks volumes when it comes to Solange controlling her own narrative. The muted colour palettes and smooth choreography for both videos create a vision of vulnerability and femininity, while maintaining a sense of strength and sturdiness through the landscapes and architecture. Clever choices that have only contributed positively to the bigger picture.
Solange uses her platform and creative mediums to be the representation that I, and so many other young women of colour, needed growing up. It’s important for it to be communicated to people who are still finding themselves that they don’t need to fit into one box. That you’re allowed to be emotional without being seen as weak, that you can wear a dress and still be tough as guts, and most importantly, that you control your own narrative and therefore define your own beauty. Solange is both delicate and indestructible, and this is why she inspires me.
Andi is a columnist for Maidenhair Press. She mainly writes about fashion and life advice as these are the things she is most passionate about. She also curates fashion shoots each issue for the magazine which you can find in her fashion columns and the gallery.