I never quite cared for the sub-genre “Neo Soul” but it’s damn near impossible not to mention it when describing The Queen herself, Erykah Badu. She has always set herself apart from the crooning over-emotive soul diva type. Her songs are empowering and uplifting, but she never lets her ego get the best of them. She’s not faking tears, or over dramatically singing about ridding her life of all drama. Humble, honest and flawed, Erykah Badu is real.
Her debut record “Baduizm” was a revelation to me. Here was this incredible female vocalist, who knew the meaning of restraint. She sang much like I imagine she conversed. I didn’t immediately feel apologetic and guilty for representing every man who had crossed her path and wronged her.
I first saw Erykah on stage at Paisley Park, singing with Prince and Common. Now, seeing anyone at Paisley, hell being INSIDE Paisley Park was enough to give me chills. Erykah’s solo set the following night completely blew me away. Her on-stage presence was huge and I was shocked to see how tiny she really was standing in front of me. Absolutely sweet and all smiles, she signed my copy of “Mama’s Gun” and gave me a warm hug and was rushed away backstage. Ok, I never said this was a review per se, I’m just being a fanboy now. Sorry.
Seeing her last night at Kool Haus, I felt she hadn’t missed a beat in over 10 years. Having just celebrated her 42nd birthday her strong voice and fragile beauty are as present as ever. Under one lone spotlight she held the crowd with a slowed down a capella chorus on “Bag Lady” and a stirring version of “Kiss Me On My Neck”