Sunday, December 7, 2008

Solange: More than Beyonce's little sister

What I'm about to say may catch some of you off guard, but watching Solange Knowles perform at Terminal 5 in New York City on Friday night made me think of Janet Jackson.

I know it sounds crazy but let me explain.

Solange is the younger sister of a superstar singer Beyonce, who has hands down taken the music world by storm since breaking out from Destiny's Child. Beyonce went from being a part of a cute girl group to becoming a superstar solo performer. Beyonce is probably one of the best and most popular performers/singers out right now, love her or hate her.

How can Solange step out from being the younger sister of such superstar? Maybe she should ask Janet Jackson, who shared a similar story trying to break into music despite having some very talented big brothers -- specifically Michael Jackson.

Janet faced some difficulty emerging on to the music scene in the early 80's. How could she have a promising music career when most people just looked at her as being Michael Jackson's little sister? Well, it took some time. Two albums to be exact.

Janet released a self-titled debut album in 1982 and then tried her luck again two years later with "Dream Street." Neither turned many heads. In fact, most people don't even acknowledge those albums. It was her third album, "Control," where Janet finally brokethrough.

Solange's first album, Solo Star, was released in 2003 and barely sold 100,000 copies. Pretty disappointing start for being the little sister of a multi-platinum selling artist.

After five years, a marriage, a baby and a divorce, Solange returned with her second effort entitled "Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams." This time around she takes the old sounds of Motown and slapped a "modern twist" on it.

On Friday, I watched her perform a few tracks from the album -- including "Sandcastle Disc," "I Decided" and "Dancing in the Dark" -- and I was pretty impressed by her ability to singer live and really command the stage. She's a solid performer and a pretty good singer. Just too bad she's the sister of Beyonce because she'll always be compared to her.

She even tried her luck performing Kanye West's "Love Lockdown." I wasn't really pleased with this portion. I would have rather she performed something else, perhaps "T.O.N.Y." from her album. I was pretty surprised she didn't perform "T.O.N.Y." during her quick 20-minute set. But she was opening for the London pop singer Natasha Bedingfield and it was quite clear the crowd was there for Natasha. Although I did not stick around to see her.

Overall, in the short time Solange was on stage she made a believer out of me. This latest album may prove to be just another learning experience for the singer struggling to break out the shadows of Beyonce. But there's no doubt Solange is talented. Not only is she an exceptional singer and performer, but she's also a song writer that has penned songs for many, including her big sister.

Solange may have it hard because of her sister but if she keeps doing what she is doing maybe her big break will come.

Maybe Solange will hit it big on her third album. The third time was a charm for Janet and she managed to maintain a successful 20-year career. If Solange plays her cards right I think it's possible for her to do the same. Only time will tell.

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