By Treasure Smith | August 15, 2016 11:13 AM EST
Photo Credit: Treasure Smith
Photo credit: Treasure Smith for Steed Media
On Friday, Aug. 12, Grammy Award-winning recording artist Erykah Badu graced the stage at Chene Park Amphitheatre. The Dallas native entered the stage wearing palms from the Maori tribe of New Zealand, Egyptian Scarab of Kemet, Mayan calendar from Mexico, and Oman calendar from the early Americas showing her versatile, ethnic side. Queen Badu showed the audience how talented she truly is by playing the SPDS pad (a drum pad) creating her own music and freestyling in between songs. Badu took the audience back to 1997 singing songs like “On and On” and “Apple Tree” from the popular Baduizm album. Badu then took us back in time with songs from several albums, including Mama’s Gun, New Amerykah Part One and Two, Icon: The Best of Erykah Badu, and But You Caint Use My Phone. To the audience’s delight “Bag Lady,” “Love of My Life,” “Honey,” Window Seat” and “Danger” made the cut.
Badu, Chene Park, and Right Productions Incorporated collaborated to raise money for Enough Said’s African American 490 Challenge. Enough Said, founded by Kim Trent, aims to raise funds to complete the testing of untested rape kits. Five dollars of each ticket sold was donated to the organization with the goal of raising in excess of $50,000.
Rolling out attended the press conference where Badu spoke about rape, her music, and future plans.
Has sexual assault affected you personally?
Absolutely. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been sexually assaulted, could almost [have] been sexually assaulted or could be sexually assaulted. I think it is something very common in every family so it does affect us all.
How do you plan on spreading the word about these rape cases? Would you do it the same way you did it here in Detroit at Chene Park?
As I learn more about it, I’ll take those steps to bring awareness. Every show after this one, a portion of the ticket sales will go toward this organization until the goal is met. I will match [them].
What would you tell your fans to do to get involved and solve this problem? How could they help change how we view and treat women in America?
Well, it’s a violent crime just like any other crime in America. It’s illegal. It’s immoral. It’s a violation against human rights and the human body. It’s a violation of our integrity. It’s a violation of our sexuality. Not only women, but there are children and boys who are victims as well and when you put it into perspective, it’s a very violent crime.
What would you say to your fans that weren’t here tonight?
Well first, my fans are not fans; they are family. So I would tell my family I love them and for those who couldn’t make it, I miss them. I have a special connection with Detroit; it reminds me of home. When I hit that stage at Chene Park, for many years, I feel that same connection. We all become one living, breathing organism at some point. It feels like home. It feels like family and my job is to make you feel good. I hope that I do that.
As far as being an activist, when did you realize how big of a platform you had and how you could make a difference?
I don’t know if there was a time I realized that, but I’ve always been a servant; it’s my own selfless and personal therapy. It makes me feel whole. It makes me forget all about the little things that I think are wrong with me when I’m serving others. My grandmother always said, “The servant is the greatest among us.” So I always try to be the servant’s servant’s servant. I’m known in our community for making some kind of social political statement whether it’s with our natural hair or how we’re unapologetic [in the] way that we are Black or are unapologetic [in the] way that we are human. The basis of my activism is my conscience and my compass and if I see area that I can contribute, I will and I never tire.
How important is it now to be an activist, especially with everything going on in the world such as the Black Lives Matter movement?
It’s very important to me. If you see work that needs to be done, do it.
Where are you getting your inspiration from these days?
First, my children. I’m inspired by them because they’re listening to everything I have to say and watching everything that I do, so I’m inspired to show them me; both sides. That inspires me.
What keeps you hitting the stage, writing lyrics, and motivated at this point in your career?
“Tyrone.” It’s just something about the connection I have with that song.
What would you tell people around the world to do to make a positive impact on the world?
I think the most important thing they could do is follow their hearts and even if it doesn’t get you where you want to be, it’ll get you where you need to be if you continue following your heart. I think you should be honest about yourself and everything that you feel and that you are because when you’re not honest, you f— it up for all of us. And have no fear. Overpower that in some kind of way. Be fearless. Stand up to things; even your dreams. Don’t allow anyone to infiltrate those dreams; not even your last level. When we’re in a group together, we’re so much more powerful. If you find an organization that can move things in the same way that your heart feels necessary, then you’ve done a wonderful thing. That is what moves things; when we all think and feel collectively. We all matter! Until we multiply ourselves against the speed of light squared, then we’re all energy.
Erykah Badu plans on continuing her activism throughout the world and supporting the 490 Challenge until the goal of $675,000 is met.