Birthday Girl: Solange Knowles–Born June 24, 2013!

Photo: Mike Lawrie/Getty Images Entertainment
Photo: Mike Lawrie/Getty Images Entertainment

If Beyonce is queen — of pretty much everything — then what does that make her younger sister Solange? A force to be reckoned with, that’s what. Solange Knowles is really something else; while many young celebrities find fame by hopping on the older-sibling train, Solange didn’t need any help from her sister. She’s no Beyonce copy-cat — far from it. She’s exceptionally talented, having done work as a singer-songwriter, actress, model, dancer, DJ, and businesswoman. Have we mentioned she’s only 27? Well, as of today, that is.

Born June 24, 1986, Solange grew up in Houston, Texas with her parents and older sister. She showed an interest in recording music at a young age and began writing songs at age nine. There must have been something in the water at their house, because we don’t know many nine-year-old songwriters here. And, because clearly writing songs wasn’t enough, Solange danced with Destiny’s Child — her sister’s group — on tour. In fact, many people don’t know that she temporarily replaced group member Kelly Rowland when Rowland broke her toes backstage while touring with Christina Aguilera. And Solange still wasn’t done: She jumped right into the music scene at just 16 years old when she released her debut solo album, Solo Star, in 2003. Her second album, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams — which she worked on with stars Cee-Lo Green and Mark Ronson — was released in 2008 and peaked at number nine on the US Billboard 200 chart.

But Solange decided to stretch her wings even more, which we wouldn’t have thought possible. She lent her voice and acting abilities to multiple television shows, from Disney’s The Proud Family to the 2004 comedy Johnson Family Vacation. She also starred as a cheer-leading captain in the 2006 flick Bring it On: All or Nothing, working alongside megastar Hayden Panettiere. And, keeping true to her nine-year-old self, Solange wrote songs for Destiny’s Child, as well as for Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams independently.

With her unique R&B sound, Solange draws songwriting inspiration from 1970s funk, Motown, and English pop music. She refuses to be defined by the success of her older sister, saying, “There’s never been any competition.” It’s definitely true that Solange is her own person: She has received a lot of attention for her unique and iconic style as she mixes bold colors, different prints, and retro glam. In fact, her decision to wear her hair naturally has also made her a celebrated symbol of self-acceptance, particularly in the African-American community.

Solange now lives with her nine-year-old son in Los Angeles, referring to him as her greatest blessing and even writing songs about him. And, while Solange and Beyonce may not need each other to lean on when it comes to fame and success, they are similar in a lot of ways: They’re both strong, independent women, and they’re both exceptionally cool — no doubt about that. Happy birthday, Solange!