Solange Knowles is featured on the cover of the latest Teen Vogue, and instead of an interview, the singer wrote an open letter to her teenage self. This summer, Knowles will embark on a series of dates at museums and festivals around the world.
In the touching, funny letter, the now 30-year-old singer looks back on her many phases — which included being a superfan of artists like Fiona Apple, Nas and Incubus’ Brandon Boyd — while offering advice on believing in herself and creating art.
“Sometimes you push these phases to the max, and when you go out into the world feeling confident in who you are and what you reflect, young folks will call you names and grown folks will call you names,” she writes of her identity exploration during her youth. “It’s ok. One day, you will name yourself and that name will belong to you. It will not be the ones they ordained: ‘crazy, ugly, attention-seeking, weirdo.'”
Knowles goes on to acknowledge the triumphs of her mother Tina, whom she refers to as a “wonder.” The effect of watching the Knowles family matriarch take care of her kids and run a salon made the “Cranes in the Sky” singer feel “invincible” and as “fiercely independent and outgoing” as Tina.
Knowles also offers many specific anecdotes from her youth, including a near-death experience when her friends drove up a steep mountain in a snowstorm. The personal letter also recounts losing her best friend to gun violence and giving birth to her first child at age 17, making that year the hardest of her life.