Hear Solange’s inspirational lecture about activism in music and Prince’s legacy

  • Words: Spindle

Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign: Celebrating the Legacies of David Bowie and Prince’ was a four-day series of conferences, discussions, and even karaoke that took place at Yale University over the weekend. The symposium explored the pair of late icons’ lives and work, featuring talks from academics, artists, and journalists who presented a variety of viewpoints, covering spirituality, gender, and the politics of performance. There was also, naturally, music at the event: Questlove and Kimbra opened it with a Prince and Bowie DJ set, while TV on the Radio closed the weekend with a concert.

Solange, however, was not there to perform but to give a talk with Yale professor Daphne Brooks, who introduced the singer-songwriter as “Someone whom we see as carrying forward Prince as well as David Bowie’s avant-gardism, as urgent, necessary, multifaceted, black feminist sonic activism. Someone who has delivered some of the most uniquely stirring and gripping forms of social critique in pop music in recent memory. An artist whose galvanising statements about the nature of black freedom, black movement, and black imagination on the move have quickly become the soundtrack to our current moment of ongoing resistance and insurgent struggle.”

Solange and Brooks discussed activism in popular music and Prince’s legacy. They unpacked Solange’s album ‘A Seat at the Table,’ as well as revealing the challenges she faces in performing its songs live. “I definitely created this album as protest music,” Solange stated, “I am resisting, I am objecting, I am refusing. And in its most simple way, protest is a statement of objection. There were so many things that I fought against through this album, in hopes really for me to find healing and solace.” The pair also talked about the influence of black cinema on her music’s visuals, as well as the daily obstacles artists of colour face in the music industry, “I think of artists like Prince, who from day one burned that handbook and really fought for ownership in a way that had not ever been done,” Solange said. The hour-long conversation is now available to listen to in full, and is powerful, revealing, and highly inspirational.

Listen to the lecture with Solange and Daphne Brooks below: