Watch Erykah Badu Perform ‘On & On’ At An Open Mic Before She Was Famous
Mindy Small

Erykah Badu is throwing it all the way back to the days before her fame and recognition.

The neo-soul singer posted a Facebook video Monday of the moment in 1995 when she first performed “On & On” at an open mic in Brooklyn. The song would become the breakout single from her debut album “Baduizm.” The Grammy-winning album celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

“I guess you just gotta take that first leap…huh?” she captioned the video. “One night I did.”

The song as performed in the video stays pretty true to the official track she eventually released. And you can see the glimpses of showmanship that Badu uses to electrify stages today.

But in a conversation with earlier this month, Badu fondly remembers the days before she became an international megastar.

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“I was finishing up my album and I had moved to New York to a little apartment in Brooklyn,” she says. “I still have the same apartment, over [the clothing shop] Moshood. I rarely left that apartment. That place means so much to me, it’s like a little shrine. I would sit with my feet hanging out the window. People would pass by, say ‘hey’ to me. Nobody knew I had a record deal. It was the last of, I guess, my private life. I never had that anymore, because after Planet Groove on BET, everybody knew. I was trying to hold on to Erykah Badu, the little girl from Dallas.

“I remember just being in that space and being able to, if I wanted, go to the grocery store or different things. I could just do it,” she continues. “I envy those beginnings, because it’s a really sweet place. To know there’s something wonderful ahead of me if I work hard enough for it. Anticipating the super stardom and dreaming about those things were sometimes better than having them. I remember that.”

It may have been twenty years since her debut, but Badu remains a force and an inspiration to many in the industry, as Solange Knowles so expertly explained during her tribute to Badu at ESSENCE ‘s 8th annual Black Women in Music event earlier this month.

“She is mother, she is sister, she is friend, she is auntie, she is chief, she is warrior of many tribes,” Solange said. “She is a beautiful reminder that you cannot put us in a box.”


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