Solange on Cash Money, Diversity in Music, and Performance Art

"Saint Heron actually built the first release of our compilations modeled off of Cash Money’s sales of CDs out of trunks."


Image via Getty/Rick Kern/WireImage


Solange is one of music's most eclectic and multi-faceted artists. She's never been one to mince words, and her new cover story with Billboard is no different. In it, the singer explained everything from balancing motherhood and artistry to her love of Missy Elliot and Cardi B ("I can’t wait to hear what her album sounds like," she told writer Doreen St. Félix) and what real diversity looks like.

Diversity, or lack thereof, at award shows and beyond has been an important conversation for years, and while Solange has long championed bringing black art to the forefront, she also makes it clear these awards aren't the end-all-be-all of good work. "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," she explained. "But I certainly don’t subscribe to [awards] as the only way, best way or most important way to celebrate work."

Making music as introspective as Solange's, it shouldn't come as a surprise that some songs are trickier for her to perform than others, including her hit "Cranes in the Sky." "Singing 'Cranes' every night in front of everyone was like throwing salt on the wounds all over again," she said of the song, written in Miami when she lived around tons of new developments. “[The cranes] were so heavy and such an eyesore, and not what I identified with peace and refuge. ... It was very different recording it in a room in a safe space. And I remember my voice would quiver and shake for probably the first three months of singing that song...every night, in a festival environment."

Solange also delved into her connections to Master P and Lil Wayne, who both showed up on 2016's A Seat at the Table. "I immediately knew that I wanted [Master P] to come in and speak about his journey as a black entrepreneur during the time where black ownership in the music business was really not present. Saint Heron actually built the first release of our compilations modeled off of Cash Money’s sales of CDs out of trunks," she explained. "Wayne is an old friend of mine. He is a monster when it comes to how quickly he’s able to articulate his feelings. "

After skipping the traditional tour route for A Seat at the Table and taking its accompanying performance series "Orion’s Rise" to museums around the world like the Guggenheim and Chinati Foundation, Solange self-identifies as a performance artist. Even with the recent distinction of being named Harvard's 2018 Artist of the Year, she knows her position in the art world is and continues to be hard-fought, despite her deep knowledge thanks to childhood lessons from mother Tina Knowles-Lawson. "I don’t think that I ever saw this idea of existing as a performance artist or a multifaceted artist as a possibility as a black woman. Over the last 10 years, we’ve become more understanding and supportive of multidimensional artists, but there’s still such a long way to go," she said.

You can read the full interview here.

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