It’s sometimes easy to overlook how much pain and sweat, how many tears go into conceiving, composing and recording an album. For by the time the pre-release promotional machine begins in earnest for an artist’s new LP, the listener has been, by design, largely removed from the album-making process, including all of the different components and contributors that bring the project to fruition.
Hence why the behind-the-scenes short film that accompanies Solange Knowles’ A Seat at the Table—one of 2016’s finest albums—is so captivating. Unlike most “making of” documentaries, ‘Beginning Stages’ finds Solange laying the very raw and organic groundwork for a handful of the songs that were ultimately featured on her third studio album, along with a few that didn’t make the final cut. Just north of 11 minutes long, the footage is a pure, unembellished portrait of the artist harnessing her muse and indulging the creative process with her collaborators, including the acclaimed British singer-songwriter-producer Sampha. The only regrettable omission from the film is the absence of Raphael Saadiq, who played a prominent role in the album’s development.
In an official statement via Saint Heron, Solange explains, “When I look back at the beginning stages, I remember the powerful energy that set the tone, and that I'm so grateful followed us everywhere during the creation of this record.”
With all due respect to Solange’s more famous older sister and her Grammy-nominated album Lemonade, A Seat at the Table was criminally overlooked in the Album of the Year category at this year’s festivities. But no matter, as now that Solange has secured that seat at the proverbial table, such elite recognition is surely not too far off for her.
Watch A Seat at the Table, Beginning Stages below and then revisit a few of the album’s accompanying videos.