September 8, 2008 in Features

Time to say hello, Solange

By Mark Kennedy Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Solange Knowles
(Full-size photo)

Solange Knowles is a little sensitive about a certain B-word: Beyonce, that is.

The 22-year-old singer is reluctant to discuss her older sister – the Bootylicious One – and it’s understandable why: All anyone seems to want to know is about their relationship, while she’s still trying to make a name for herself.

“I’ve answered that question and then that’ll be the one thing from a 40-minute interview that gets any play. That is what becomes frustrating,” she says.

The good news is that Solange has something of her own to crow about: “SoL-AngeL and the Hadley St. Dreams,” a sophomore album that’s anything but sophomoric.

The 13-song CD starts with a blast of 1960s-inspired R&B – think The Marvelettes and The Supremes – before evolving into more downbeat electronica.

“This is exactly what I wanted my record to sound like, from top to bottom,” she says. “This is exactly where I was musically when I recorded it. My influences, my inspiration, my honesty is poured into this record.”

Big sis does get a mention, albeit obliquely.

“I’m not her and never will be,” Solange sings on “God Given Name,” the opening track. “Two girls going in different directions/Striving towards the same galaxy/Let my star light shine on its own.”

“What I love about Solange is she dares to be different,” says her father, Matthew Knowles, an executive producer on the album. “I think people are finally getting it – that she is different from her sister. And that’s OK.”

There’s little doubt that Solange’s star shines differently.

While Beyonce appears more poised and proper, she’s raw and outspoken. She has tattoos, she curses and she’s prone to rashness.

Five years younger than her sister, Solange has already amassed a musical history. She joined a Destiny’s Child tour as a dancer and helped write songs for Beyonce and Destiny’s alums Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.

After her first album, “Solo Star,” came out in 2003, Solange took some time off, marrying Daniel Smith, her childhood sweetheart, at 17, giving birth to a son and moving to Moscow, Idaho, while Smith attended college.

Now divorced, she and her son have made their home in a loft on Hollywood Boulevard.

“It’s definitely a sense of balancing and I feel like I do it well,” Solange says about single motherhood.

“The key for me is really to learn when to say no. Sometimes my marbles are getting thrown around too much and then it’s bad news.”

Her new album’s title comes from a section of Hadley Street in Houston where her father chose five years ago to set up his music company, Music World Entertainment.

Back then, the area was rundown, a magnet for drug users and prostitutes. Now, it’s thriving – kind of like the little sister of a certain other Knowles.

“It’s a tribute for having a vision and making it a reality,” Solange says, “which is sort of what I had to do with this record.”

The birthday bunch

Comedian Sid Caesar is 86. Actress Heather Thomas is 51. Singer Aimee Mann is 48. Singer Neko Case is 38. Actor David Arquette is 37. Actor Henry Thomas (“E.T.”) is 37. Actor Larenz Tate is 33. Singer Pink is 29. Actor Jonathan Taylor Thomas (“Home Improvement”) is 27.

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