Photos by: iO Tillett Wright
via: Brooklyn Magazine
Click “Read More + Comment” for additional photos. Solange Knowles moved to Brooklyn for a simple reason—family. Curled up on a couch in a recording studio in DUMBO, where she’s waiting for the guys from Lonely Island, Solange talks openly about the realities of being a young working mother to her 8-year-old son, Julez. “You know,” she says, in a voice that still retains a hint of Texas drawl, “my parents are here, my sister is here, my cousin is here, all my friends are here. We really wanted Julez to have the experience that we had growing up—being able to drop in on his aunt’s house and being able to hang out with Grandma and see our friends and have that experience of actually having a soccer game and having family show up. It’s such a beautiful feeling, but also having that village is a necessary reality so that I’m able to pursue my passion both outside of motherhood and outside of my career.”
Of course, for Solange, the professional passion that she pursues is a celebrated and ever-evolving music career that she’s been working on since she was a teenager, and the friends that she now lives near are a diverse group of vibrant, creative people with enviable careers of their own, and, oh, that sister she mentions? Well, that would be Beyoncé, who was an integral factor in Solange deciding not only to come to New York but also to come to Brooklyn specifically. “I’m still a newcomer here,” says Solange, “but I feel like because my family moved to New York when I was 17, that I have a longer and deeper connection. And I think about the times when I would come and visit them, and I would always spend a lot of time in Brooklyn. So it feels like an extension of me, living here, because I spent so much time here before.”
And in many ways, it makes perfect sense that Solange would end up in Brooklyn, rather than in the Manhattan environs where she might otherwise have been expected to dwell. Brooklyn suits the style—both musical and sartorial—that Solange has revealed over the many years she has spent in the public eye. Having now lived and worked in the entertainment industry for more than half her life, Solange was just 13-years-old when she started as a backup dancer on tour with her sister’s group, Destiny’s Child. Solange recounts that, rather than riding with her sister and the other members of Destiny’s Child, she had to ride in the backup dancers’ bus, where her young age—and the fact that she was still wearing braces—separated her from every crazy thing that goes on during a typical megatour. Her career wasn’t the only thing she started at a young age; Solange married and had her son when she was 18, first living in Idaho, where, she says, she had a formative parenting experience that “was very, very vital for the foundation” in her relationship with her son. And while the foundation of her relationship with her son was strong, Solange’s marriage ended when she was just 21, leading her to leave Idaho and begin the balancing act of single, working motherhood.
Which, Solange is quick to point out, “Is definitely a balancing act, and it is not at all easy. I do the best I can, which involves a lot of saying no to things, actually, and a lot of really organized scheduling and a lot of help, to be honest. That was one of our major incentives to moving here. We were living in LA and I was writing and recording this album literally between the hours of 9am and 3pm every day because that was the time that Julez was in school. We were completely isolated, we didn’t have any family or long-term friends there, and we didn’t have that support system built in there that we have in New York.” This clear-sighted appraisal of the choices that parents have to make in order to create an easier life for themselves and their children is so pragmatic and honest that it’s easy to understand why everyone I’ve talked to about Solange, from the friends who accompanied her to this photo shoot to…To hear the rest of Solange’s life in Brooklyn with Brooklyn Magazine, including career, Motherhood and her circle of uber- cool, close knit and beautiful friends click here