As you now know, Beyoncé received 9 Grammy nominations for Lemonade yesterday, the most of any artist, and in categories ranging from rap and R&B to pop and rock, which speaks to how limitless she is as an artist. But today’s intro is not about Beyoncé. It’s about Solange. While Beyoncé is now the most nominated female artist in Grammy history, Solange earned the first Grammy nomination of her career in the Best R&B performance category for Cranes In The Sky, arguably the best song from her outstanding album A Seat At The Table (Kathleen reviewed it here). NPR actually named A Seat At The Table the Best Album of 2016, ahead of Lemonade at #2. It’s perhaps the first time Solange has ever come before her sister. Who are you if you are Beyoncé’s sister? Is this an unfair question? Probably. But we ask it anyway, and often, of two people who are profoundly connected and yet exist in both perceived and self-imposed imbalance. Zadie Smith just wrote a book about that called Swing Time, about two close friends who grow up together, one more talented in the art of performance, the other more talented in the power of observation. I did think about Beyoncé and Solange while reading it. About how the narrator, who remains unnamed throughout the novel, relegates herself, for far too long, to the status of spectator instead of participant, and what ends up happening when she finally decides to become the story. The consequences are brutal but I’m not convinced there’s no promise in that kind of devastation. Which is not say that that’s an exact comparison to Solange’s personal and professional narrative. But there’s been a process at work that we were only just made aware of this year.
Two years ago, in a post about Solange, I wondered how and when Solange would find her peace and her place. Her “Seat At The Table”. Let me admit here, in bold, that I underestimated Solange. I did not think music was how Solange would get there. But Solange delivered a masterpiece, the same year that Beyoncé delivered a masterpiece. You remember what she tweeted back in February, right after Beyoncé dropped Formation?
She was talking about herself too. She just knew before everyone else.
Yours in gossip,