red lights

Erykah Badu Smooths Out Milwaukee

Erykah Badu
Riverside Theater
Milwaukee, WI
August 11, 2001
Erykah Badu
Badu hot as ever.

Story and Photos by Terry Mayer

You know you are at a hot concert when there is only one person outside the venue scalping tickets and they're demanding full price. Such was the case with the sultry Erykah Badu. Originally born Erica Wright she changed her name to Erykah, the kah meaning inner self and Badu so named for the scat singing of legendary jazz vocalists. Jazzy jelly is what you got when the sultry singer glided onto the stage.
Erykah Badu With her customary headdress, a stick of incense nestled in her mouth, and an elegant evening dress flowing with crimson coloring and a 1940's jazz club setting for a backdrop, Erykah's velvety voice pierced the warm summer night and caressed the soul of everyone in the audience.
With "Certainly," she exhibited her ability to improvise with a scatesque flare which melded nicely with the natural reaction of her voice. Erykah enhanced the already smoothly mellow and creamy mood by lighting a single candle in the middle of the stage. Followed by a slow pause this strangely spiritual act made pondering the music's mood and textures mandatory. Erykah then pounded her arms into the air and and broke into a soulful performance of "On and On" from her 1997 album Baduizm, after which she discarded her traditional headgear to reveal her newly shaved scalp . Seizing the moment, she removed her dark red dress to revel a skin tight black dress underneath to the wide-eyed enjoyment of many of her fans.
Badu's music has many influences from Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith to Chaka Khan. With her latest album Mama's Gun, she is by no means slowing down. Her voice also has infusions of R&B and smooth jazz. She writes, directs, produces and dances. Erykah once said "This is my gift, my baby, my art." Her thought provoking verses left you wondering long after the concert was over as to what she really means.
The high point in the evening of many high points was when Erykah stood center stage immersed in darkness and a lone spot light highlighted her lithe figure and sang a breathtaking version of "Orange Moon." Twinkles of stars behind her and shining from her eyes, Badu bowed the contented bow of a young star whose particular brand of shine just got brighter.

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