Jamaica Observer / Earlier this year social media lit up after Solange, the younger sister of pop icon Beyonc�, announced that she was in Jamaica via an Instagram post. Media outlets including lifestyle arbiter Vogue , reported on the young starlet who was staying in Cardiff Hall, St Ann, in an old villa once used by rock legend Joni Mitchell, where she was being inspired to write music for an upcoming album. Her last effort, A Seat at the Table , was released in 2016.
On Thursday, British, bimonthly glossy Dazed released a cover story featuring Solange in which she pens a thank you letter to Jamaica
Her ode to the island is written in seven parts; each is a tribute to a specific place in Jamaica and how the locales inspired her work.
Runaway Bay seems to have held pride of place for Solange, as she dedicated two entries to this St Ann spot in her Jamaican travelogue.
She noted that she has been a follower of Joni Mitchell and staying at Itopia — a villa in Runaway Bay where Mitchell once stayed — renewed her spirit.
“I’ve been following Joni. First through her words, then through her truth, then through her melodies and the way I dance and drown in them… I’ve been looking at photos of this house in Runaway Bay for five years. Wanting to know if it could tell my secrets. If it could hold me. If I could write music, and drink wine, and draw sketches, and sleep well naked and invent new ways to say how I feel. If I could burn my sage, and wash my hands with Florida water right there on the porch until I feel renewed,” she wrote.
“On the fourth day I wake up here, someone casually mentions Joni Mitchell painted the mural in the bedroom below. There’s a story in a Rolling Stone article from 1982, about her on a quest to the nearest shopping centre for yellow paint, so she can paint the mural. The store was closed so a man painting a curb gave her some of his. There was no place to store it, so she put it in a coconut which splattered everywhere on the drive back, so she only had a little left. The yellow in the mural suddenly looks really lonesome and sad to me. The crickets and roosters are so loud here, they are seeping through the mics on the recordings. They want to be heard so I will keep them on top of the mix,” she continued in Dazed .
Port Antonio, she continued, provided her with a spot to record some vocals.
“I have re-recorded them over, like four times. I am feeling insecure about not enunciating my words clearly enough for people to understand the lyrics. I take a walk and sit under the big tree. I smile, thinking about jumping off the cliffs in the lagoon. I have jumped that cliff about half a dozen times, and each and every time it feels like a deliverance and salvation and I want my future to be bright blue-green like those waters.”
Solange zips across the island to the south coast parish of St Elizabeth where she said she has spent two Christmases, one Thanksgiving, one break up, a breakdown and a birthday.
“I’ve spent many a day on the beach, just my son and I, both of us reading and running and smiling wide in the sun, tasting the salt in the corners of our mouths. I’ve had dinner in country fields of the mountains. Drank too much punch and watched the masters play dominoes in the middle of the ocean at the Pelican Bar, feeling the slam of the ivory all around me… I’ve taken my son to play a football match in the middle of town, and I love my baby, but he got smoked,” she said of St Bess.
Capital city Kingston came in for special mention based on an experience the singer and songwriter had years prior.
“I was 15 when I first went to Kingston. I met a teacher and felt really spoken to in a way I hadn’t before. His words made me feel really proud to be black, really proud of the colours of the blood of black martyrs, the wealth of the motherland, and the vegetation of the Promise Land. I went back to Houston and spent a lot of time alone, and was a seeker of constant reflection and stasis. I am forever grateful for the teachings, for the word. Those teenage days have become a part of me and a stranger all at once, but the word will remain always. Thank you Kingston.”
In closing she offered thanks to the island which guided her through the writing process.
“…I gather my things and walk up and down the beach saying my goodbyes, and till we meet again. I say my thank yous. Thank you, to this island for giving so much, sharing so much, and being a constant place of refuge and retreat when I’ve needed it the most. Thank you for its lessons and its guidance, for its stunning reflections and affirmations into the world…”
The current issue of Dazed hit news-stands yesterday.