A royal visit from Erykah Badu 

The queen of neo-soul headlines Summer Celebration

Erykah Badu is as well-known for her sweet-and-sour voice as she is her messages of Afrocentric self-respect and social idealism. And in case anyone wonders how Indiana Black Expo could top last year’s Music Heritage festival featuring Mary J. Blige as headliner, the reigning queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu, is ready to provide the answer.

Badu’s appearance at Summer Celebration 2007 is part of a summer schedule that has her performing at a variety of festivals and private events in the U.S. and Europe. Though she hasn’t released a new album since 2003’s Worldwide Underground, Badu’s records keep selling, as do tickets to her live performances. With rumors circulating that 2007 might see the release of a new album in September, and with two more releases scheduled at six-month intervals in 2008, fans are flocking to her summer appearances in hopes of hearing much-anticipated new material.

If other shows this summer at places like the House of Blues and the Grove in Anaheim are any indication, Badu will come to Indianapolis with a set list comprised mostly of hits like “On and On,” “Bag Lady,” “Tyrone” and “I Want You,” as well as multiple tracks off of Worldwide Underground.

Embracing her role as hip-hop royalty, Badu usually takes the stage after being introduced as “The Queen,” a title and stature born out by a recent Rolling Stone reviewer who calls Badu “a force of nature as a stage presence whose sultry voice and strut commands the room.”

It was the release of Baduizm that launched Erykah Badu in 1997, earning her multiple Grammy Awards and going platinum more than five times. Badu quickly followed that success with Live, released coincidentally on the same day she gave birth to her son Seven.

Though she had garnered acclaim as a member of the Roots and celebrity for her relationship with Outkast’s Andre 3000, the release of these two albums quickly established Badu as a singer with considerable talent in her own right. With every release since, Badu’s sales earn her multiple platinum status, as well as continued Grammy nominations and awards.

Badu isn’t content to be musical royalty, however. Still living near her mother in her childhood Dallas, Texas, neighborhood, the singer has invested a great deal of her time and resources into her own community.

In 2003, she founded B.L.I.N.D. (Beautiful Love Incorporated Non Profit Development), an organization aimed at creating social change through economic, artistic and cultural development, beginning in the south Dallas community.

The organization’s first project was refurbishing the Black Forest Theater, a venue Badu had frequented growing up to watch local acts perform. The theater now serves as B.L.I.N.D. headquarters and a space that has hosted live shows featuring artists including Prince, the Roots, George Clinton, Paul Okenfold and Snoop Dogg.

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