As previously announced, Solange Knowles was selected as this year’s recipient of the Harvard Foundation’s Artist of the Year.
During a ceremony on Saturday (March 4), held at the Sanders Theatre at Harvard University, the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter accepted the prestigious award and gave a heartfelt speech, while her mother, Tina Knowles Lawson, sat in the audience and helped cheer her on.
“I feel so incredibly humbled and beyond grateful that you have allowed me to do this work,” Solange said, addressing the bright-eyed crowd. “And to now be rewarded for that, it just blows my mind.”
During her passionate and humble speech, the 31-year-old reflected on her creative journey and how far she’s come in both her identity as a mother and an artist alike.
“I was 17 when I became pregnant with my son Julez,” she continued. “At 18, he was a newborn and we were living in Moscow, Idaho, supporting his father’s [Daniel Smith Jr.] dreams of playing football and getting an education. My dreams were to write music and create work that could express the inner workings of my soul.”
During that time, Solange explained how she “made [herself] believe [she] didn’t want to be an artist.”
“I was content living in Idaho, with a GED education, writing for other artists and commercials,” she continued. “I didn’t want to speak or feel worthy until I had something to say… I began to shape and mold the way that I viewed the world, while the world continuously tried to shape and mold me. I had to start being honest with myself and with the world in creating the work and spaces that I wanted to see and be a part of.”
Solange ended her speech with a note of encouragement, aiming to inspire students to live their truths much like she has chosen to do.
“Our worth cannot be invested in the moment someone tells us that we are worthy,” she concluded. “I feel rewarded by each and every one of you, and the people everyday that have shared their stories and their experiences with me, and I can’t thank you enough for those awards. I can’t hold them, but I hold them in my heart every single day.”
Congrats to Solange on her latest recognition!