Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Solange Knowles, who “has used her platform to advocate for representation and justice while providing constructive and empowering messages,” was named the first recipient of the Lena Horne Prize for Artists Creating Social ImpactThe Town Hall announced Friday (December 6). This is the first major entertainment award named after a woman of color that honors excellence at the intersection of arts and activism.

“With the release of her critically acclaimed albums ‘A Seat at the Table’ (2016) and ‘When I Get Home’ (2019), Solange has navigated themes of self-reflection and origin, empowerment, grief and healing that have resonated with millions of voices,” notes the announcement. “This coupled with her performance art work has led to a defining career of music, visual art, and activism.”

Knowles was chosen by a board that included Horne’s daughter Gail Lumet Buckley, Harry BelafonteBilly Porter, Judy Collins, Deesha Dyer, Roxane Gay, Bob Santelli, Bruce Cohen and Jose Antonio Vargas.

Of Horne’s activism, Belafonte told The Associated Press: “She was a huge contributor because she found the best way to use her strength and notoriety, [which] was to make sure she did things that stimulated attention and positive response.”  

Knowles will be presented with the award on February 28 in New York City. At the ceremony, she will receive $100,000 for the Houston-based nonprofit Project Row Houses. The organization uses the celebration of art and Black history and culture to transform communities.