Solange's wildly introspective work on A Seat at the Table detailing black womanhood under the cultural duress of 2016 was so profound that we're still talking about it two years later. It put her on the main stage of nearly every summer festival of 2017 from D.C.'s Broccoli Fest to Panorama in New York City, and sprinkled her throughout museums like the Guggenheim composing intricate performance pieces. More recently, she's revealed she suffers from an autonomic disease which prevented her from performing at AfroPunk in South Africa. Just last month she was named the Harvard Foundation's Artist of the Year. Despite all this acclaim, New Orleans-based singer said in a new interview with Billboard that she's "not interested in entertainment at this moment," though she does offer some indication of what she's been up to since A Seat at the Table.
She explains what being honored by the Harvard Foundation means to her.
“It feels like such a colossal honor that I’m still working through feeling deserving of it,” she explains. “I didn't come from a line of college-educated women. I feel so humbled and appreciative, [having been] an 18-year-old teenage mother who didn't go to college, who always had to explore academia on her own.”
Solange, winner of last year's Best R&B song at the 2017 Grammys, spoke about why the music industry needs to make changes on representation.
I would like to see more diversity in all institutions, and I don’t just mean in music and art and fashion. I would like to see more people who look like me making decisions...Through Saint Heron we hope to uplift and empower and tell our story and celebrate each other every day. I am certainly not going to wait for anyone else to tell us that we’re worthy of that.
In the interview, she reveals that it was difficult to constantly perform songs like "Cranes in the Sky," that were initially painful. Instead of creating a general tour, she's curated performances fit for museums, and now considers herself a performance artist.
I have made myself pretty clear that I’m not interested in entering these spaces unless I am wholeheartedly occupying the space. I can’t even tell you what going down that rotunda [at the Guggenheim] felt like, seeing all of those black and brown faces. I am constantly trying to keep [connected] to my 13-, 14-, 15-year-old self. Imagine what it would have meant to see that at that age.
But the question many want to know is, what's next? Solange is writing, but won't be putting anything out until it's complete, a method she reveals she's done with all three of her projects.
I’ve been working in Laurel Canyon, Topanga Canyon and Jamaica. I actually have been following Joni Mitchell. It has been really wild. The house that I was just recording in [in] Jamaica, I stayed there for four days. And then the last day, the owner was like, “You know that mural that’s downstairs in the spare bedroom that the engineer booth is in? Joni Mitchell painted that.”
Solange seems like she's gained a better understanding of who she is after the deep dive of her lineage through A Seat at the Table, and she's showing no signs of ceasing exploration. Read the rest of the interview at Billboard.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer at Noisey. Follow her on Twitter.