With her velvety voice, inventive lyrics, funky dance moves and impossibly cool style, it is no wonder that Solange Knowles is one of the most anticipated performers to hit Vassar in years. Her most recent EP, “True,” has been met with nearly universal critical acclaim, spawning hits such as “Losing You,” and “Lovers in the Parking Lot,” and her performances and music videos have been highly praised.
Knowles, brought by ViCE Music and the Council of Black Seniors, will perform in the Chapel on Friday at 8 p.m. with special guest Iman Omari. Knowles’ visit to Vassar is part of a series of sporadic college concerts. “I had her on the back of my mind for a while, but when her agency approached us about her having availability in our area, it just made it that much more of a reality,” wrote ViCE Music Director Maya Toler ’16 in an emailed statement.
“Solange is known by many as her sister, Beyoncé’s antithesis. However, in the last few years she has been coming into her own and making a name for herself as more than the talented little sis.”
Since her musical debut as the lead vocalist of the Proud Family theme song in 2001 and debut album Solo Star, Knowles has worked to establish her own musical style and voice. A prolific songwriter—she began writing songs at age nine—she has written some of her superstar sister’s biggest hits, such as “Get Me Bodied” and “Upgrade U” from Beyoncé’s second solo album, B’Day. She has performed on the stages of Glastonbury, Made in America, Pitchfork Musical Festival and Jimmy Fallon.
Knowles is heavily influenced by The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas and The Marvelettes, along with other MoTown girl groups. She also cites her mother, Tina Knowles, as a big influence, and Beyoncé as a powerful inspiration. Solange has managed to come more into her own style as she has gotten older. In reference to Solo Star, she expressed to The Scotsman that she had little control over the artistic direction of her first album.
“Even at that age I had very diverse taste in music, but I didn’t necessarily have control on the record,” she said (“Solange Knowles interview-Soul sister, 10.21.08). “I didn’t understand about having an identity. There was none. One song was jazz, another was reggae… when you’re 14, everyone else is older and more seasoned and you trust their decisions” (Solange Knowles Interview-Soul sister, 10.21.08).
Solange’s eclectic taste and inspirations are best exemplified on True and Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams.
“She’s genre-less, which I think makes her perfect for Vassar,” wrote Toler. “Everyone can find something about her music that they gravitate towards.”
Knowles mixes various musical styles, including R&B, hip hop, indie, funk and neo soul. She has also been described as a fashion icon, famous for her bold hairstyles, busy patterns and flashy suits.
One student from the class of 2014, a big fan of Knowles, spoke to her versatile music and daring fashion choices.
“[Knowles] has a really fresh sound that builds on old school Motown influences, equally suited to dancing with friends or lazy afternoons alone,” wrote this student in an emailed statement.
Knowles, also a model, is renowned for her hipster-inspired fashion mixed with retro elements displayed in her music videos and public appearances.
“She’s got a phenomenal personal style. Yes, she’s Beyoncé’s sister, but her sound and voice are absolutely her own and I think well-suited to the sort of smart, hip, indie-pop aesthetic that the Vassar crowd appreciates,” the student added.
The student also expressed admiration for Knowles’ personal conviction and artistry in her work. “Her path to success in the music industry is very unconventional and admirable. She writes all her own stuff, and she will release her next album through her own label.”
Toler asserted that Vassar students can look forward to Knowles’ opening act, Iman Omari, as well. Also an artist with a style that spans genres, Omari will bring west coast sounds, with a fusion of jazz, hip-hop, R&B and soul.
“The opener Iman Omari is someone who [Knowles] really wanted to open for her, so his set should be a good transition into hers,” wrote Toler.
Overall, Vassar students have shown great enthusiasm for ViCE’s upcoming fall concert.
“Generally, the [student] response has been great. We sold about 700 tickets in only 3 days of sales, so I think the numbers speak for themselves,” wrote Toler. “I think students always appreciate it when a relatively big name comes to campus.”
Tickets are $15 at the door for students, and $25 at the door for the public. “The concert’s going to be one to remember,” wrote Toler.
“Students can expect [Knowles’] contagious energy and an all around great, inviting show.”