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How Solange brought the avant-garde to R&B

Amanda Parris
Listen to Marvin's Room, Oct 13th 2017

Marvin's Room with Amanda Parris on CBC Radio


Solange recently celebrated the one-year anniversary for the release of her award-winning album A Seat at the Table. It is a sonic masterpiece that took eight years to complete, and Solange wrote, arranged and co-produced every song. The result had fans and music critics alike dissecting every element, from the design of the lyric book to the art direction of her music videos.

For longtime fans, the worldwide acclaim was not a revelation, but an affirmation. For years, Solange has been pushing the envelope on her sound, defying genres, crafting platforms and leading the charge for a more visionary R&B.

Below are three examples of how Solange brought the avant-garde to R&B.


An acronym that spells "The Other Night Y?," "T.O.N.Y." was the anthem for every woman left regretting a one-night stand with an undeserving lover. The song sees Solange experimenting with an uptown funk sound, producing a nostalgia that she would return to in later years with an even more fierce innovation.

'Losing You'

"Losing You" fused '80s dance pop with contemporary R&B vocals, all amplified with a music video unlike any other. Shot in Cape Town, South Africa, and featuring the dapper dandy style of the Congolese Sapeurs, "Losing You" is a visual and sonic feast of colour, style, innovation and attitude. Basically Solange’s standard MO.

'Cranes in the Sky'

"Cranes in the Sky" perfectly encapsulates the brilliance of A Seat at the Table. She sings about a mysterious “it” that is never defined, but her meditative melancholy leaves the need for definition obsolete. Her voice is pristine in its delicacy, and the song carries listeners on an orchestral journey that is so incredibly satisfying.

Marvin's Room Playlist for Oct. 13, 2017:

  1. Lucy Pearl, "Dance Tonight"
  2. Whitney Houston, "I Wanna Dance with Somebody"
  3. Solange, "Losing You"
  4. Kiki Rowe, "Trust Issues"
  5. Aloe Blacc, "The Man"
  6. Jayd Ink, "DarkSkin"
  7. Kehlani, "Gangsta"
  8. Pluto, "Breathe"
  9. Deborah Cox, "Sentimental"
  10. Witch Prophet, "Wish I Knew"
  11. Patti LaBelle, "If Only You Knew"