Solange Wants to Put This Undersung Black Architect on Your Radar (and So Do We)

Singer-songwriter Solange is a multihyphenate whose interests and talents extend beyond the world of the performing arts. She earned our eternal respect for her artistic vision as the designer of her own unique furnishings and glassware collection—not to mention warming our interiors-obsessed hearts by dubbing her last two albums When I Get Home and A Seat at the Table. But a new interview for the cover of Harper’s Bazaar revealed some information that brings her even further into our favor: The “Cranes in the Sky” vocalist is editing a book on the pioneering Black architect Amaza Lee Meredith.

As a Black queer woman born in 1895 Virginia, Meredith had to blaze her own trail to becoming a respected architect. Her work designing homes in the Sag Harbor, New York, area laid the foundation for what came to be known as the Black Hamptons. Several cottages within the seaside locale’s Azurest subdivision were designed by Meredith, but the true meaning of her work is found less in the physical architecture she helped to construct and more in the legacy she built by creating a community in which Black leisure-seekers could take in the beauty of their coastal surroundings together, in relative peace and safety. In a time where African Americans were attacked for enjoying public swimming pools and banned from a number of resorts and hotels, this was no small task.

Writer Kaitlyn Greenidge described Solange’s focus on Meredith as an obsession, reporting that the icon is combing through the archives of Virginia State University, where some of Meredith’s records are kept, and spending a great deal of time researching Meredith on the internet. (Safe to assume she’s come across New Angle Voice’s podcast on the subject, which AD covered last year.)

Greenidge detailed Solange’s worries about the potential for losing evidence of Black legends in the absence of robust archives on African American achievement, so it makes sense that the undersung Meredith is a force she’s decided to champion. Particularly, Solange is concerned that much of the responsibility for carrying these important narratives forward has been left to institutions—when it comes the accomplishments of minorities, they have not historically proven to be the most effective stewards. So she’s “taking care of the work that I’m doing so that people will be able to come directly to the source” when they want to know her story and the stories of her people.

“[Preservation] feels like such important work right now in the present,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “I think about all of the ways that the world that I’m building has tangible evidence.” Whenever that Meredith retrospective is released, we’ll be sure to store an extra copy on our bookshelves for safekeeping.

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