Did you read the Tina Knowles Lawson profile in the New York Times this weekend? I probably don’t have to say this but Miss Tina, as she likes to be called, is the mother of the Beyoncé and Solange. As noted in the piece, Miss Tina’s daughters “became the first sisters to reach No 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in the same year” with their respective albums Lemonade and A Seat At The Table, both nominated for Grammys next month. And you can feel Miss Tina’s unmistakable influence and presence are through both masterpieces. This then is an article that attempts to answer the question “Who is Miss Tina?”
Well, she was at first a makeup artist in California. Then, after moving back to Houston, she opened a hair salon. If you’ve studied Beyoncé, this is part of the history – Beyoncé’s first audiences were the clients at the hair bar. Those performances eventually became Destiny’s Child. Miss Tina dressed Destiny’s Child in outfits that even she says “looked a little crazy sometimes”. And while those clothes are undeniably not on brand with Beyoncé now, you can’t really separate that aesthetic from your memory. Do you want to look back on Destiny’s Child and imagine them NOT wearing those shredded pants? Or the denim and yellow crochet?
Or head to toe purple suede?
Me, I never want to forget these visuals. Ever. I never want to swap out these hilarious designs with a runway alternative. It just wouldn’t be the same. It would change the entire era.
The era for Miss Tina now is self-focus. And the point of this piece. She tells the Times how “I kind of lost myself” after the divorce and, after a period of reflection is now focused on writing her autobiography and opening an acting workshoppe with her husband, Richard Lawson, called Where Art Can Occur, specifically focusing on underserved youth.
As for her daughters, yes, they both contribute to the article. So… Beyoncé agreed to an interview? This is how the Times explains B’s involvement:
The journalist-averse Beyoncé broke her silence to talk about her mother’s creative influence (though on email, coordinated through a publicist). “I think it was important to my mother to surround us with positive, powerful, strong images of African and African-American art so that we could reflect and see ourselves in them,” Beyoncé said.
“My mother has always been invested in making women feel beautiful,” she added, “whether it was through someone sitting in her hair chair or making a prom dress for one of the girls at church. And her art collection always told the stories of women wanting to do the same.”
How much do you love that that had to be specified? That Beyoncé communicated only via email and through a publicist, which means, yet again, that this really isn’t a real interview. It was Beyoncé offering a few words of her choice about her mother without a back and forth exchange. This is what I call a “statement”, it is not an “interview”.
In Solange’s case, it’s not as overtly explicit how she sent in her comments. Here’s how she described Miss Tina’s presence in her life and in her art:
“She says things in that interlude (on my album A Seat At The Table) that I had been trying to say for the last four years. But my mother has a very special way of communicating, a very special channel that she speaks through that has always felt bigger than her. If my sister and my project feels like an ‘awakening’ to some,” she added, “I am constantly saying that we both grew up in a home with two words: Tina Knowles.”
Click here to read the full article.