Solange Is Honored as a Creative Trailblazer at the 2024 BAM Spring Benefit

solange knowles
Solange Honored at 2024 BAM Gala BFA

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Since its inception in 1861, the Brooklyn Academy of Music has become a beloved New York institution that celebrates the music that shapes our world.

It's robust programming is recognized year after year with BAM's annual Spring Gala, which this year honored musician and artist Solange Knowles and arts producer and advocate Mikki Shephard as cultural trailblazers who embody BAM's core mission. This year's benefit was held at BAM's Peter Jay Sharp building where guests came together (and dined onstage!) to celebrate both Knowles and Shepard for their contributions to BAM's programming. Throughout the evening, guests enjoyed performances from Alva Puppet Theater, Nailah Hunter and Beverly Glenn-Copeland as well as deejay sets from DJ Bembona and Lindsay Zae Summers. Shepard has been a longtime consultant and board member for BAM while Knowles curated the sold-out musical series El Dorado Ballroom for the venue last spring which saw artists such as Kelela, The Clark Sisters, and more grace BAM's stages.

mikki shepard bam
Mikki ShepardBFA
toyin ojih odutola
Bre Johnson/ - BFA

Before accepting her honor onstage, Solange was introduced by friend and fellow artist Toyin Ojih Odutola, who highlighted the musician's eager love of learning (and libraries!) and navigating the world as not just a performer or creator but also a maker of spaces where specifically Black women can thrive. During her speech, and while draped in a black transparent number from Acne Studios (and a matching clutch from Brandon Blackwood), Solange shared a moving message on her personal concept of joy and even referenced her 2020 essay for Harper's Bazaar where she reflected on the same theme.

"For the past few years, I've been so connected to this idea of building the world I wanna see, and creating artifacts as the evidence of this world's existence; whether that be composing a ballet or starting a library, designing an object, curating programming for incredible spaces like BAM or publishing a book," Solange shared during her speech. "It's been such rewarding, beautiful and humbling work that I feel so honored and blessed to create."

alva rogers puppetry bam gala
Alva Rogers Puppetry BFA
bam spring gala 2024
DJ BembonaBFA
bam spring gala 2024
Gina Duncan and Diane MaxBFA

Solange went on to share an excerpt from her 2020 Bazaar essay as a reminder to herself and the guests in attendance that "blazing a trail or building new universes is nothing without moments of joy."

"Most of the work I’ve made has been about knowing where you’ve been to know where you're going. Knowing who you’ve been to know who you are becoming. Going home—deep home, past homes, mother's home, father's home—to define home," she read. "I had answered these questions for myself and that felt good, but I had omitted truths that I just couldn’t stand to make a part of my home. They didn’t belong in my kitchen, or closets, or even in a shoebox under my bed. My stillness started with my body. It refused to be, to go. I’d look to moss trees asking for answers as if they could talk back to me."

solange raul lopez
BFA / Bre Johnson

She continued, "I heard a voice saying you deserve joy. Applause from my loved ones and heroes wasn’t gonna do. Another voice, a critical one, said you got a lot of nerve chasing joy and freedom when you already have so much, but I went for it anyway. I honored, listened, and lived."

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