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Solange Knowles Recalls Loneliness She Felt as a Teenager and the One Regret She Has In Her Career

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It’s been five years since Solange Knowles released her last album —  When I Get Home in 2019 — but she’s been anything but idle in that time. The artist, 37, has toured the world, held a special performance at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale de Venezia and written the score for a 2022 New York City Ballet production, among other projects.

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Just last month, Solange performed a multi-medium, four-act performance exhibition titled “In Service to Whom” at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Over its four acts, “In Service to Whom” explored “everyday mundane gestures” that’ve played parts in expanding Solange’s creativity, per her Saint Heron website. The 84-minute show featured Solange performing original orchestral works inspired by “repetition, gospel vocal arrangements, minimalism, and the Black southern marching band music of football games” she attended in her Houston hometown.

In a recent cover story interview with Harper’s Bazaar, the GRAMMY winner dug deeply into her artistry, explaining how an adolescence of loneliness inspired her, what she sees as her legacy, and the new music she’s hesitant to share with her fans.

Larissa Hofmann/Harper’s Bazaar

A Seat at the Table, and the work that went into it, was all about origin: finding the way that history was generationally repeating itself or evolving and all of the ways that I found those stories within me,” Solange tells the outlet, adding that she’s been thinking about her own “origin story” in the five years since the album’s release and doing the work to understand her younger self and forgive her.

Even as a young teen, Solange lived a life in the public eye as the younger sister of Beyoncé, a burgeoning superstar alongside Destiny’s Child group members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. “There was a lot of loneliness in my teenage years,” Solange recalls. “A lot of the work I do speaks to that loneliness and weighs that connectivity. This was, you know, prior to social media. I would be on the road for long stretches of time, mainly with adults or older people.”

While it was an isolating experience, touring introduced Solange to the “big, dramatic” spaces of concert halls and music venues that “intrigued” her. “I felt like I belonged there and that I could one day create a space that felt like that or embody the way that felt through a song or a project,” she shares.

It’s fair to say that the “Losing You” singer has explored that very concept with her various projects — whether they be musical, historical, or theatrical. Committing so intentionally to her work has created a career in which the singer says she has “very few regrets.”

The one regret she does have, though, is “I was supposed to work with Katt Williams on A Seat at the Table. I went to his show, went backstage to ask him. Honestly, I fumbled the ball. But he is singular,” she shares of the comedian.

Larissa Hofmann/Harper’s Bazaar

When it comes to how her approach to performing has changed throughout her career, Solange explains, “I show up in performance as myself. Fifteen years ago, the idea was to show up in costumes.”

Recently, the singer — whose only son, Daniel “Julez” Smith Jr., recently made his runway debut during New York Fashion Week — learned how to play the tuba and has been writing music for the instrument, but she admits that she’s not sure about releasing the music for her fans, wary of how they might receive it.

“I love it. I’ve started writing music for the tuba, and I am trying to talk myself into releasing it, but I can only imagine the eye rolls from people being like, ‘This bitch hasn’t made an album,'” the musician says of her tuba obsession. “It sounds like what the gut feels like to me. There’s a way that it takes up space that you can’t deny, and it also just feels very Black to me.”

Her identity as a Black woman is integral to every bit of work she produces, which is why Solange says that part of her legacy is “taking care of the work that I’m doing so that people will be able to come directly to the source when they want to know my story.” She tells Harper’s Bazaar that she’s “frightened” when she thinks about “institutions having all of the evidence of our existence, specifically Black artists.”

“It scares me that there are so many people doing important work, and it’s all on this digital print,” she says, adding that preservation “feels like such important work right now in the present. I think about all of the ways that the world that I’m building has tangible evidence.”

Solange’s cover issue of Harper’s Bazaar hits newsstands on Feb. 27.

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