Ten years into a music career that still largely saw Solange Knowles as 'Beyoncé's sister' she dropped A Seat At The Table, in September of 2016. It was the album that made everyone stop and take note.
The record from the 30-year-old mother made use of the deeply personal as political. Songs such as 'Don't Touch My Hair' were critically acclaimed as well as heralded by black women across the world for their shaping and reframing of racial conversations.
She is one of three Teen Vogue cover stars for the music issue, alongside Paris Jackson.
And Chance the Rapper.
The magazine invited Solange to write an open letter to her younger self, much like we did with Leomie Anderson and other models not long ago.
The letter opened with a foreword by Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, which explained the cultural importance of Solange's artistry, putting her in the same bracket as authors such as Toni Morrison and artists such as Lorna Simpson, she said:
Like them, Solange represents in her work the story of black life yesterday, today, and tomorrow and the indomitable spirit of black women. In a culture that has often defined beauty so narrowly and placed so many limitations on possibility, she shows us that we need not accept others' projections of who we are. Instead, we will boldly exist at the creations of our own powerful imaginations, redefining beauty and possibility without limits, knowing and loving who we are.
Solange thanked Golden for her kind word on Instagram saying, 'It touched me deeply'. She also explained who difficult writing this letter was, saying, 'Wrote a letter to my teenage self for @teenvogue . I couldn't write for days, until I said fuck it...let's get real and honest baby solo, lol. '
The letter was written in all lower caps and opened, 'there will be fear.'
In it, she focussed on her sartorial and emotional evolution in a search for her authentic self and how some people would mock her for her individual style:
young folks will call you names and grown folks will call you names. It's ok. one day you will name yourself, and that name will belong to you. it will not be the ones they ordained: 'crazy, ugly, attention-seeking, weirdo.'
Solange is now praised for her unapologetic look, with some of us only dreaming of reaching her dizzying heights of coolness.
In 2004, when Solange was 17, she had a particularly tough year after getting married. Ebony reports that she lost her best friend, Marsai Song, in a drive-by shooting after she was hit by a stray bullet. She welcomed her son, Daniel Julez, now 12, in October of that year.
seventeen will be the hardest year of your life. it will grow you up almost immediately. you will lose your best friend whom you love so much to gun violence in a single moment, and give birth to a new one within a year.
Solange divorced Daniel's father a couple of years later and is now happily remarried.
Over the last week Solange has hosted two performances at the Guggenheim, she asked audiences to hand in their phones so as not to record it, though many people have praised the performance.
Solange closes the heartfelt letter with an importance message of hope and self-acceptance:
there will be times you are so sad you can't lift your head. and there will be times you are so happy that the sensation of life knocks you down. but most importantly,there will be you. a whole, whole lot of it. and you will feel good about who she is and who she is still becoming.
You can read the entire letter here.