While raising the Knowles girls, mother Tina was constantly entertained. She wasn't the only one.
"I don't know how she had friends," Solange Knowles, younger sister of Destiny's Child singer Beyoncé, said of her mom. "We used to harass her friends. They would come over, we would make tickets, and Beyoncé would sing, and I would dance. We did it all."
A few years and the massive success of Destiny's Child later, Solange is taking her show out of her Houston home and introducing it to the world. This time, someone else will be making the tickets.
Last week, Knowles launched the Young Pop Power Tour of malls across the country with Swedish pop quartet Play and R&B singer Devin, her labelmates at Music World Music, run by Solange's father, Mathew Knowles.
On June 25, the 15-year-old will release her debut album, Solo Star, which features a who's-who of hot producers, including the Neptunes, Rockwilder, Timbaland, Linda Perry and Damon Elliott.
Beyoncé also produced a track for the album, though Solange warns not to expect her to sound anything like her big sister's group. "My sound is Solange. It's definitely not Destiny's Child," she said.
Solo Star is primarily uptempo R&B, though Solange said there are rock, reggae and hip-hop flavors. Other than a duet with B2K on "Dance With You" and Murphy Lee of St. Lunatics rapping on "Scooby Doo," which is also due on the soundtrack to the upcoming movie of the same name, the album is guest-free.
"With a name like [Solo Star], which means that I'm a star just being by myself, I didn't want to have everybody and their mama on my CD, it wouldn't make sense," Solange said. "I really wanted people just to get to know Solange on my first album, just to establish Solange's sound, just to establish Solange's personality. And when you have all these people on your record, it kind of confuses that."
Solange, who has danced with Destiny's Child (see "Destiny's Child Has Tough Backstage Break") and introduced them on last year's TRL Tour, is definitely the star of Solo Star. Of the 15 songs on the album, she co-wrote eight of them.
"I'm open to working with other writers and stuff, but I think I create my own sound when it's just me," Solange said. "A lot of writers, you know, they don't even have enough time to spend with me and to really get a feel for me, so it turns out sounding like Destiny's Child, and I have to do the whole song over."
Solange said her songs are about life from a 15-year-old's perspective, but not what you might expect.
"Every teenage artist out there is mostly talking about boys, and I think there's so much more to being a teenager than just boys," she said. "I have songs about just encouraging yourself. It's so sad, actually, how teachers and parents tell their kids, 'You're never gonna be anything.' And I have a song about that, because I know how that feels. Teachers have done that to me. It's just a song saying, 'If you've been battered on, if you've been hated on, then this song is for you.' "
Solo Star is not due until summer, but you may have already heard or at least seen Solange. She and Destiny's Child sing the theme song for the Disney Channel's "The Proud Family," her "Solo Star" was featured on last fall's "Osmosis Jones" soundtrack and she appeared in Lil' Bow Wow's video for "Puppy Love."
"Solo Star" marked Solange's first time recording in a studio and the experience convinced her to play more of a role in the production of her album.
"It was really hard for me just having somebody to tell me how to sing," Solange said. "So from that point on, I was like, 'I've gotta learn how to arrange and produce my own music, 'cause this is too hard for me.' I've been writing since I was like 10, learning and just sitting in the studios and watching my sister. If you be quiet and listen sometimes, you can actually learn a lot."
Solange is also turning to her sister for help on the biggest challenge surrounding Solo Star choosing the first single.
"I think their first single, 'No, No, No,' was so wonderful," she said. "It was just one of those songs that no matter what kind of music you listen to, you had to love it. And I know they know what a first single should be. I mean, they've had eight #1 singles, so, I definitely asked her."
The Young Pop Power Tour dates, according to Columbia Records:
- 3/19 - Lakewood, CA @ Lakewood Center Mall
- 3/20 - Newark, CA @ New Park Mall
- 3/22 - Lynnwood, WA @ Alderwood Mall
- 4/16 - Saugus, MA @ Square One Mall
- 4/17 - Columbia, MD @ The Mall in Columbia
- 4/20 - Alpharetta, GA @ North Point Mall
- 4/21 - Miami, FL @ International Mall