On Tuesday, Interview Magazine published an in-depth interview with Houston artist Solange Knowles about her 2016 masterwork, “A Seat at the Table,” conducted by her big sister Beyoncé. “The album really feels like storytelling for us all and our family and our lineage,” Solange says, explaining why she wanted to keep the profile in the family.
It’s an intimate, warm conversation, loaded with love and light and I highly recommend reading the whole thing, but here are a few highlights.
On being a strong woman: “As far back as I can remember, our mother always taught us to be in control of our voice and our bodies and our work, and she showed us that through her example. If she conjured up an idea, there was not one element of that idea that she was not going to have her hand in. She was not going to hand that over to someone. And I think it’s been an interesting thing to navigate, especially watching you do the same in all aspects of your work: Society labels that a control freak, an obsessive woman, or someone who has an inability to trust her team or to empower other people to do the work, which is completely untrue.”
On Master P’s role on the album: “Well, I find a lot of similarities in Master P and our dad. I wanted a voice throughout the record that represented empowerment and independence, the voice of someone who never gave in, even when it was easy to lose sight of everything that he built, someone invested in black people, invested in our community and our storytelling, in empowering his people. ”
On Missy Elliott and becoming a producer: “One of my biggest inspirations in terms of female producers is Missy. I remember seeing her when you guys worked together and being enamored with the idea that I could use myself as more than a voice and the words.”
On the response to the album: “The biggest reward that I could ever get is seeing women, especially black women, talk about what this album has done, the solace it has given them.”
On growing up in the Parkwood area of Houston: We grew up in the same neighborhood that produced Scarface, Debbie Allen, and Phylicia Rashad. So, culturally, it was as rich as it gets. People were warm. People were friendly. But the biggest thing that I took from it is the storytelling. I feel like, in the South in general, but specifically in our world growing up, people were expressive and vivid storytellers. In the hair salon or in the line at the grocery store; there was never a dull moment. I feel so happy that I got to grow up in a place where you could be the pastor’s wife, you could be a lawyer, you could be a stripper on the side, you could be a schoolteacher—we saw every kind of woman connect on one common experience, which was that everyone wanted to be great and everyone wanted to do better.