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Why Solange Matters

Why Solange Matters

A Black feminist punk performer and important new voice recounts the dramatic story of an incandescent musician and artist whose unconventional journey to international success on her own terms was far more important than her family name.

Series: Music Matters

Sales restrictions: Not for sale in the Commonwealth (except Canada)
April 2021
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248 pages | 5 x 7 |

Growing up in the shadow of her superstar sister, Solange Knowles became a pivotal musician in her own right. Defying an industry that attempted to bend her to its rigid image of a Black woman, Solange continually experimented with her sound and embarked on a metamorphosis in her art that continues to this day.

In Why Solange Matters, Stephanie Phillips chronicles the creative journey of an artist who became a beloved voice for the Black Lives Matter generation. A Black feminist punk musician herself, Phillips addresses not only the unpredictable trajectory of Solange Knowles's career but also how she and other Black women see themselves through the musician's repertoire. First, she traces Solange’s progress through an inflexible industry, charting the artist’s development up to 2016, when the release of her third album, A Seat at the Table, redefined her career. Then, with A Seat at the Table and 2019’s When I Get Home, Phillips describes how Solange embraced activism, anger, Black womanhood, and intergenerational trauma to inform her remarkable art. Why Solange Matters not only cements the place of its subject in the pantheon of world-changing twenty-first century musicians, it introduces its writer as an important new voice.

  • Preface
  • 1. Solange Takes Her Seat
  • 2. Little Sister
  • 3. The Making of a Solo Star
  • 4. Bite the Hand, It Never Fed You
  • 5. Rooting for Everybody Black
  • 6. Creating Community
  • 7. For Us, By Us
  • 8. When I Get Home
  • Epilogue
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes

Stephanie Phillips is a London-based music journalist and musician who writes for The Quietus, She Shreds, Noisey, Bandcamp, and The Wire. She started the Black feminist punk band Big Joanie and played backup for Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney. She is also part of the collective behind Decolonise Fest, a festival celebrating punks of color.


“Singer and author share a story as Black women moving through spaces that weren’t built with them in mind. Why Solange Matters asks not only who Solange is, or who Stephanie Phillips is, but who Black people are and what they can be...This is a book about what freedom could look like for Black women, in which Phillips provides a framework, a vision of a new world, one she hopes Solange would be proud to be a part of.”
The Guardian

“Phillips analyzes Solange's musical evolution and connects the dots between the music and her experiences as a Black British woman...In less than 250 pages, Phillips celebrates and humanizes a woman whose artistic and personal milestones allowed the author's 'Black girl weirdo self a space to exhale.'”
National Catholic Reporter

“[A] rousing argument for 'Why Solange Matters'...Why Solange Matters helped me to re-hear A Seat at the Table through new ears.”
The Current

“[Phillips] does a great job at zooming out and considering all aspects of Solange’s artistic journey to stardom, including her childhood...[Phillips'] vibrant writing reminds us how Solange lit 'the flame of creativity' within many Black women, reminding us that society’s expectations continue to be limiting. Long live 'kooky' Black artistry.”

Why Solange Matters is a love letter to outsider music nerds, but especially to Black women, who continually have their tastes, talents, hearts, bodies, and minds suppressed by 'the limited imagination of the white mainstream.' The book is a call to action — embrace yourself, embrace those who are hurting alongside you, and be brave.”

“Stephanie Phillips (a rock star in her own right) deftly interweaves Solange's ascendance from 'black girl weirdo' to one of contemporary pop music's most innovative artists with her own coming-of-age story in London's underground music scene. Positioning Solange as a foundational artist, Phillips's study of female self-empowerment and cultivating racial identity in all-white spaces gives readers a much-needed look into the struggle of staying true to yourself within a challenging music industry.”
Laina Dawes, author of What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman's Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal

“Every once in a while, a musician comes along who so beautifully, so poignantly, speaks that Black women remember that we are more than our vulnerability. In Why Solange Matters, Stephanie Phillips gracefully positions Solange amongst that elite cohort. From Houston to London and many places in between, Phillips presses our ear to the street in order to reveal how Solange broke the mold and released us all.”
Shana L. Redmond, author of Everything Man: The Form and Function of Paul Robeson

“Forget 'Gimme Indie Rock,' this is Gimme Afro-Punk Feminist Knowledge right here. Stephanie Phillips throws down on Solange and the intersection of punk, indie, and R&B through a personal prism of race consciousness. She explores not only the race, class, and gender issues of the record industry, but her own radicalism and epiphany as an activist. Read it and join hands!”
Thurston Moore, Sonic Youth


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This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca