By us­ing mu­sic as a uni­ver­sal lan­guage, soul queen Erykah Badu be­lieves she can deliver pow­er­ful mes­sages to dis­ci­ples of all ages

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE & LOUD -

As ec­cen­tric artists go, they don’t come more out there than Erykah Badu. The queen of neosoul, a la­bel stamped on her af­ter she dropped the mul­ti­plat­inum de­but al­bum Baduizm in 1997, has done some crazy stuff.

She has stripped for a guerilla mu­sic video while walk­ing down the street where Pres­i­dent John Kennedy was shot and live tweeted the birth of her daugh­ter.

Yet Badu re­mains a mu­si­cal force to be reck­oned with, sell­ing out shows all over the world – and an artist courted by the fash­ion world.

In 2008, her good friend Tom Ford en­listed her to pro­mote one of his fra­grances and now she is the face of Givenchy, which is be­ing re­vamped by Ital­ian de­signer Ric­cardo Tisci.

“That is awe­some,” she says in her drawl. “These are the lit­tle sur­prises in life be­cause I never thought I would be 42 and asked to be the face of Givenchy.”

Badu has been en­joy­ing yet an­other cre­ative re­birth cour­tesy of her col­lab­o­ra­tions with her ob­vi­ous suc­ces­sor, Janelle Monae.

Their work to­gether, most no­tably on the song Q.U.E.E.N. on Monae’s al­bum The Elec­tric Lady, stirred the fas­ci­na­tion of a younger fan base who missed the neo-soul move­ment the first time around when it was spear­headed by Badu, Lau­ryn Hill, D’An­gelo and Maxwell in the late 1990s.

“I am al­ways cu­ri­ous about the growth of a fan base, es­pe­cially now as it is 17 years since Baduizm,” she says. “You speak to a gen­er­a­tion when they feel the mu­sic – and they seem to feel it like I felt what my mother lis­tened to. It tick­les me to see that hap­pen in my life­time, it warms my heart to see chil­dren at the shows.”

Those “kids” are bump­ing up against the “hard­core Badu fans” who have main­tained their faith through her five records, which in­clude the last two, New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) and the 2010 fol­low-up New Amerykah Part Two (Re­turn of the Ankh).

“The hard­core fans are a great tribe, they are the rea­son I do what I do. They re­late to me no mat­ter how many clothes I got on,” she says, laugh­ing. “Or what the mes­sage is.”

And then there are her fans out­side of Amer­ica’s soul head­quar­ters, who she calls her “in­digo chil­dren”.

Badu talks in terms of mu­sic be­ing an en­ergy, of res­onat­ing with fre­quen­cies which tran­scend all lan­guages.

At­tun­ing to those en­er­gies is how Badu con­structs her live per­for­mances, as her Aus­tralian fans will dis­cover when she ar­rives for Blues­fest this weekend and some side shows. Erykah Badu plays Blues­fest, By­ron Bay on Sun­day.

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