While the world’s eyes have been glued on Beyoncé, her sister Solange has been quietly maturing into an artistic force in her own right. The younger Knowles has come a long way from dancing back up for Destiny’s Child. Her transformation from mini-Beyoncé to indie artist and budding fashionista shows the importance of finding your own path rather than following someone else’s. She is proof that success comes when you are true to yourself.
Taking the Path Most Traveled Gets You Nowhere
How many remember Bow Wow’s video for “Puppy Love”? Solange had a few acting roles in movies and television, but for many this cameo was her introduction. From the very beginning of her career she was groomed to follow in her sister’s footsteps. Her father, Matthew Knowles, even considered adding Solange to the Destiny’s Child line up following the group’s 2004 reunion. Clearly, that didn’t work out.
Solange started working on her debut album, Solo Star, when she was just 14. The album consisted of cookie cutter contemporary R&B. It barely made an impact, debuting at number 49 on the Billboard 200 and selling 112,000 copies domestically despite the involvement of the top producers of the time. Many brushed Solange off as Beyoncé’s wannabe kid sister.
Self Discovery – It’s All in the Journey
In 2004, Solange became a teen mom and married her high school sweetheart. Becoming a mother, wife, and a resident of Idaho (where her husband went to college) at the age of 18 would force anyone to mature quickly. The experience changed the way she saw herself.
“Idaho made me realize that I can be in any environment and survive,” she said during a 2008 interview with Sister 2 Sister. “And I didn’t realize this, as a woman – that I would step up that much to the plate.” Solange’s personal growth seemed to immediately influence her professional work. She started working on her sophomore album following her divorce and took on a decidedly more organic, empowered sound.
Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams barely outsold her debut album, but critics responded to her more modern take on R&B. Solange could’ve let the album’s disappointing sales deter her from her newfound path. Another artist might have abandoned experimentation in favor of the safety of formulas and gimmicks. Instead Solange continued to explore herself. She started spinning records before celebrity DJ’s became all the rage, hosting parties at nightclubs across the country. Soon her adventurous style choices started to appear on urban blogs.
In Full Bloom
Solange is finally beginning to receive accolades, and for nothing less than being herself. She has gone from hobbyist to in-demand DJ for exclusive industry events. With her recently signed contract with Next models, and appearances in ads for Rimmel cosmetics and the runways of Milan, she is now a certified fashion “it” girl. Her bold color and texture combinations continue to catch the eye of the fashion industry’s elite, and her current gigs include blogging for UK Vogue.
Solange has expressed that she doesn’t have a desire to replicate her sister’s career or level of stardom. Why would she? She has indie credibility and a cool factor that would make any mainstream pop star envious. Solange has crafted a career that only requires that she pursue her passions and improve at what she enjoys doing. Further proving that conformity is not the only road to success, or a guaranteed one. Solange dared to break the mold and be an individual. Now she’s reaping the rewards.
Cortney Cleveland is a public relations practitioner and freelance culture & business writer working in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter @CleveInTheCity.