ERYKAH BADU

MU­SI­CIAN, MOTHER, DOULA, 42

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - THIS MUCH I KNOW -

‘I did maths,

sci­ence, English… but

we weren’t taught about

hu­man in­ter­ac­tion’

Texas, to me, was my school, home, my church and the movies (…). I didn’t know who was poor or rich. My mom, grandma and ev­ery­body [else] just made it a good time all the time. Mu­sic was al­ways go­ing. It wasn’t my as­pi­ra­tion to be a singer, it was to be an artist. When I was 23 or 24, I was rap­ping and em­cee­ing a lot, but I was also work­ing at Steve Har­vey’s com­edy house. He was the best boss ever. I don’t think that my im­age ap­peals to nor­mal Amer­i­can cul­ture as Bey­oncé’s would. I’m a lit­tle eclec­tic and to the left in ex­press­ing who I am, and it doesn’t ex­actly go with the re­al­ity of what ev­ery­body else feels or thinks. I re­ally can’t say what in­spires me the most, be­cause I’m in­spired by just about ev­ery­thing. My feel­ings and re­la­tion­ships, my fam­ily, Scooby-Doo, a teacher’s opin­ion of my work – ev­ery­thing, not just one thing. Artists need stim­u­lat­ing ex­pe­ri­ences [of­ten], which crys­tal­lize when you sing about [them] or paint [them] or sculpt [them]. You lit­er­ally mould the ex­pe­ri­ence the way you want. It’s ther­apy. When I walk I count my steps, so I’m re­ally in the here and now. An­other med­i­ta­tion I do is try to stay out of my mind as long as I can, as an ex­er­cise, so I don’t be­lieve ev­ery­thing I think. I’m to­tally into my health. I’ve been a veg­e­tar­ian since I was 19 and I see pa­tients [as] a holis­tic health prac­ti­tioner. That helps my fam­ily in a lot of ways. I do the same thing ev­ery day. I get up. Drink a lot of wa­ter. Have a wheat­grass shot. Drink some green juice. I’m not try­ing to win an award for be­ing the best veg­e­tar­ian, I just want to be healthy. I take salt baths. I do things that my par­ents were never able to do. I’m blessed [I am able] to do any­thing I want, so I de­cide to take the best care of my body and my fam­ily in the same way. Once you re­search more and more about your health you get into the realm of how things work.

[Be­com­ing a doula] was a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for me; I just like to be of ser­vice to people. I don’t charge any­thing for my doula ser­vices; my mu­sic kind of af­fords me to be able to do that, and it’s my plea­sure to be the wel­com­ing com­mit­tee for a baby; to help the mother and fa­ther to com­mu­ni­cate in a very beau­ti­ful way. I look up to chil­dren be­cause of their hon­esty and their fear­less­ness and un­apolo­getic love for things and people. I hope I try to main­tain that. I mostly look up to them be­cause they’re not yet con­tam­i­nated with be­ing pro­grammed, and with judg­ing and cat­e­go­riz­ing. They’re not con­cerned with the things that ruin our lives. My lit­tle girl is seven and she’s just like me. She’s ex­actly what I de­serve [laughs]; she’s a lit­tle Erykah. And then my old­est son is 14 – he’s a very tal­ented, very hum­ble guy; he’s just like his fa­ther [US rap­per An­dré 3000]. His name is Seven and he seems like he has things a lit­tle bit more fig­ured out than the rest of us. No-one chooses to raise chil­dren alone. When you’re in a re­la­tion­ship you want it to work. But we are not taught how to make it work. We don’t know how to per­form in re­la­tion­ships. I did maths, sci­ence, English… but we weren’t taught about hu­man in­ter­ac­tion, about re­la­tions with the op­po­site sex. I don’t re­quire sex for hap­pi­ness – I need com­pan­ion­ship. I need a part­ner I can de­pend on, who I can love and grow with. But I un­der­stand the na­ture of these men I’ve been with, and men in gen­eral. They have a need to chase. I don’t have any re­grets in life, pe­riod. I feel like there’s al­ways a divine or­der. Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, there’s a les­son to be learnt, you know? It’s all de­signed to make us stronger, health­ier people who are evolv­ing at the quick­est rate pos­si­ble. Fol­low your heart. It will get you to where you need to be. Some­times it’s hard, some­times it’s easy, the places that your heart takes you. But con­tinue to fol­low it. Where the train leads you – you’ll get there.

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