Whether it’s through her expressive and poignant lyrics, her unapologetically Black performances, or her support of grassroots organizations driving change, songstress Solange Knowles has continually used her artistry and platform as an avenue to capture the essence of the Black experience and spread awareness about issues impacting the African American community. In February 2020, the Houston native will be honored for her creative approach to social activism by receiving the first-ever Lena Horne Prize for Artists Creating Social Impact, the Hollywood Reporter reported.
The award—inspired by the legacy of the late legendary singer, actress, and civil rights advocate Lena Horne—celebrates artists who have been dedicated to making a difference in their local communities and beyond. Individuals on the advisory board include writer Roxane Gay, Chief of Staff of the Ford Foundation and co-founder and Executive Director of BEGIRL.WORLD Deesha Dyer, sociologist Dr. Eve Ewing, Emmy award-winning director Yance Ford, and singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte. Horne’s daughter Gail Lumet Buckley also serves on the board.
As part of the honor, Knowles will receive $100,000 which will be donated to a Houston-based nonprofit organization dubbed Project Row Houses which focuses on bettering communities through the arts. Knowles, 33, was humbled by the recognition. She says she looked up to Horne while growing up. “I will never forget being a young girl and the impact of hearing the great Lena Horne so radiantly and powerfully singing the words ‘believe in yourself’ from that remarkable moment in The Wiz,” she said. “I have carried it with me closely my entire life. At the age of 12, I played this very role at the Ensemble Theatre in Houston, Texas and it was then I learned about Lena’s dedicated activism and fearless integrity as a woman and groundbreaking artist.” Knowles will be awarded the prize during a ceremony which is slated to take place in New York City on February 28, 2020.
The singer has received several accolades for her work. In 2018, she was named Harvard University’s Artist of the Year and a year prior received Billboard’s Impact Award and Glamour’s Woman of the Year Award.