Solange Is Very First Recipient of Lena Horne Award, Donating $100,000 Prize to Houston Charity

Solange Knowles, winner of Best R&B Performance for ‘Cranes in the Sky,’ poses in the press room during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on Feb. 12, 2017, in Los Angeles.
Photo: Frederick M. Brown (Getty Images)

Solange Knowles will have more than a seat at the table as the recipient of the prestigious Lena Horne Prize for Artists Creating Social Impact.

The award named after the late, great entertainment icon and pioneer honors “the excellence at the intersection of arts and activism,” according to hallowed New York City concert venue The Town Hall, which announced its creation in November.


The Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter is recognized for “her platform to advocate for representation and justice while providing constructive and empowering messages.”

She will be honored on Feb. 28 during a special ceremony at the venue, which was created by suffragists in 1921 and has hosted everyone from Billie Holiday and Celine Dion (her U.S. debut in 1994) to Oprah Winfrey and Whitney Houston for the pop diva’s final major interview in 2009.

Solo—as she is often referred to—is the first-ever honoree and will receive a $100,000 donation to be directed to the charity of their choice.

Project Row Houses, based in her hometown of Houston, is her selection.

Located in one of the city’s oldest African-American neighborhoods, the non-profit (created by artists in 2003) encompasses five city blocks and houses 39 structures that serve as home base to a variety of community enriching initiatives, art programs, and neighborhood development activities.


“I am beyond humbled to be the first recipient of the Lena Horne Prize,” Solange said in a statement on Friday. “I will never forget being a young girl and the impact of hearing the great Lena Horne so radiantly and powerfully sing the words ‘believe in yourself’ from that remarkable moment in The Wiz.

“At the age of 12, I played this very role at the Ensemble Theatre in Houston, Texas, and it was then I learned about Lena’s dedicated activism and fearless integrity as a woman and groundbreaking artist,” she continued. “I am honored to be receiving an award that bears her name and continues her legacy of using the arts to inspire reflection and evoke change.”


Horne was a trailblazing singer, actress, and dancer who broke down barriers for The Blacks in Hollywood in the 1940s.


Though the Brooklyn native will always be remembered for putting her stamp on the signature torch song “Stormy Weather,” she participated in the 1963 March on Washington and stood up against racism throughout her career.

Lena Horne raises her arms to the cheers from the audience as she ended her smash Broadway hit musical, “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music” in New York, July 1, 1982. It was also her 65th birthday.
Photo: Nancy Kaye (AP)

In addition to her Grammy and Tony awards, Horne received an NAACP Image Award and was a Kennedy Center honoree before transitioning at age 92 in 2010.

Her daughter, writer, and author, and Gail Buckley Lumet, and granddaughter, screenwriter Jenny Lumet, sit on the Town Hall’s advisory board alongside the likes of Harry Belafonte, Dr. Jason King, Billy Porter, Janet Mock, and Roxanne Gay.

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Karu F. Daniels

Hailing from "the thorough borough" of Brooklyn, Mr. Daniels has written for The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Essence, VIBE, NBC News, The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News and Word Up!