Erykah Badu knows how to throw a party.
For her birthday bash, a ticketed public event held annually in her hometown of Dallas, Texas, the singer planned a 14-act event that included a 90-minute performance from the queen herself.
During rehearsals, Badu rejected the notion that the party was a show. “This is life,” she said.
The line for the event was wrapped around the block, as fans waited for their night with the hometown icon. From the moment that The Bomb Factory’s doors opened until showtime began, the energy was high. Some attendees paid tribute to Badu’s legacy through fashion, with headwraps and T-shirts featuring the singer face.
The festivities started promptly at 7 p.m. with a 45-minute libation ceremony, which is an offering of drink to a deity. This ancient act is basically the root of “pouring one out for the homies.” It’s a form of ancestral honor, which has proven to be something that Badu cares for deeply.
Over the course of the next few hours, a who’s who of burgeoning and established talent hit the stage. Texas rappers Trapboy Freddy and AssHole In Gold performed their latest works, while Tierra Whack ran through her 15-minute LP, Whack World. Bassist Thundercat also shared a funky set, closing out with “Them Changes.”
One of the most important moments of the night was the formal debut of Badu’s daughter, Puma Curry-Wright. The 16-year-old wowed the crowd with her rendition of jazz trio Moonchild’s “All The Joy.” Her wide smiles and Milly Rock during the song’s break was proof that she’s not only inherited her mother’s pipes, but her charm as well.
Badu also worked with students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, her alma mater. Students, under the direction of the high school’s dance instructor, Michelle Gibson, were tasked with choreographing their own dances. The elements and Yoruba culture inspired their movements, as their acts were titled, “Breath,” “Water” and “Chaos.”
This party wasn’t just for the kids though. For Act 5, all eyes were on Sammy Picone, a New York-based pole dance instructor, as she shared a few sensual moves for the audience.
At its core, the party was about expression through movement. Breakdancers from Red Bull, Badu’s background singer Durand Bernarr, and viral dance/combat star Super Bitch dueled it out onstage. The audience fawned over their backflips and dips.
Toward the night’s end, Badu ran through a number of some of her best deep cuts, including “Green Eyes,” “I Want You,” and “Cleva.”
The party wrapped up with the presentation of a disco ball birthday cake, and many hung out in the main area, as well as backstage, for an opportunity to convene with the music legend.
But, as fairies tend to, Badu was whisked away, leaving fans to ruminate on all the magic they’d just experienced.