Solange Knowles was presented with the prestigious 2018 Artist of the Year award from the Harvard Foundation at Harvard University on Saturday (March 3).

The Grammy-winning singer was recognized for her tireless work in exploring race relations through music and art. “I feel so incredibly humbled and beyond grateful that you have allowed me to do this work,” said Solange. “And to now be rewarded for that, it just blows my mind.”

During her acceptance speech, the 31-year-old detailed her own personal journey being an 18-year-old mother with a small child to becoming a prominent voice in the music scene.

“I was 17 when I became pregnant with my son Julez. At 18, he was a newborn and we were living in Moscow, Idaho, supporting his father’s [Daniel Smith Jr.] dreams of playing football and getting an education,” she recalled (quotes via People,/i>). “My dreams were to write music and create work that could express the inner workings of my soul.”

Although she was happy with just being a mother and a behind-the-scenes songwriter, she felt the need to step in front of the mic and let her own voice be heard.

“I began to shape and mold the way that I viewed the world, while the world continuously tried to shape and mold me,” she explained. “I had to start being honest with myself and with the world in creating the work and spaces that I wanted to see and be a part of.”

She ended her speech by telling the audience of students to never let anyone silence their voice and to express the creativity by any means necessary. "Staying silent and letting someone else create the version of your truth can be a slow and painful death itself," she warned.

Afterward, Solange shared her happiness on Instagram with a photo of herself posing with a Harvard student named Solange. “Today truly brought me so much joy, my heart is so full," she wrote. "To be selected harvard foundations “artist of the year” by these tremendous, glorious students I met today....fills me with such great gratitude."

"I’m grinning from ear to ear because this beautiful gals name is solange too, and she is a wonder! Thank you to all of the students who made today one I will hold close forever more!" she concluded.

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