Mz Badu, I have to thank you for allowing an experience that changed my life. I got onstage with you in 2003, at the LA House of Blues. It was a full moon, and your birthday. I was the blonde glittery pigtailed dreadlocked young woman in purple and blue from head to toe, looking like a galactic raver, who you brought onto your stage and who sang to you. my name is Amae Love, and I want to share that story with you. I imagine that you will read this someday and you will, in fact, remember me
You had announced from the stage that artists in the audience could come share. I didn’t believe my ears. I almost had not come to the show, because I was recovering from tonsilitis. My voice was not in top shape, to say the least. But I knew I had to show up for this opportunity. So I went to the side of the stage and waited. I was standing there still contemplating if I had heard you correctly and if so how I would possibly got onto the stage. The side door was locked, of course. I asked about it, but the security guy stationed there thought I was off my rocker. “she means known artists,” he said. But I knew what I had heard, so I waited. Then I saw someone wearing an audience wristband onstage, singing, and I made a decision in that moment. I was going up there. But I had no idea how I would GET up there, how you would know I was waiting there, or know if I was any good. I started to doubt.
“Is Erykah Badu really going to come off the stage, at her own concert, and get me? no way….” I was thinking.
It was at that mystical moment when the side stage door opened and you were standing there, dressed in white from head to toe, turban on your head, with glittery platform boots. It was a gorgeous vision. It was just you and me, standing there. Your show was happening onstage, and there you were before me in the doorway, nearly in the audience. I was stunned. Nobody else noticed, which was equally stunning.
“Will you be performing?” you said. I realized later this was the only audition neccessary. Anyone with enough balls to say yes was either an amazing talent or going to be very entertaining. What a brilliant invitation you had given.
“Yes.” I managed. You then took me by the hand, and led me backstage. You informed me that you would call me up when you were ready, after your sister played a song. I waited there, in the wings, for about 20-30 minutes.
During this eternity I had ample time to contemplate my predicament.
Interesting things went through my mind: fear, terror, excitement. My mind kept trying to figure out what I was going to sing, kept following the music trying to come up with ideas. Now I’m a good singer, but what you had going on the stage that night was like an impromptu gospel/soul professional showcase. Musiq Soul Child was there, Common, Tina Marie and many others. I was out of my league, and I knew it while I was waiting there in my 23-year old skin, shaking in my silver reflective platform moon boots. I was going to make a fool of myself. Had I made a mistake? What the hell had I gotten myself into?
Suddenly, my inner voice spoke to me.
“You can’t impress them with your technical skills, especially not now, while still recovering from being ill. You will have to channel your pure heart from the Divine, in order to touch theirs. Let God speak through you. Nothing else will suffice.”
I knew It was right. I had to channel. This was my vow: I would be a conduit. Breathing deeply, I waited.
When you finally called me up, it was in silence, between songs. You beckoned me from the stage. I didn’t budge. You had called everyone else up during music. I had been counting on knowing what the groove was first, and I froze. You beckoned again, rather fiercely. I shuffled reluctantly to the front of the stage, keeping to the very side. I was terrified.
You looked at me. You looked at your band. the audience glared at me. I swear you could hear a pin drop in that place. I think you were trying to decide what to do with me. I imagine that you wanted to challenge me, but who knows what you were thinking.
“gimme some flute,” you said to your flute player, at long last.
The you turned to me and signaled me to go. Yes, to nothing but FLUTE. Now THIS was incredibly unexpected.
I was sooooooo scared, but I knew I had no choice.
I closed my eyes, and went within. I let my voice out, softly at first. A feminine and soothing, meandering melody. One by one, other instruments joined, and to my shock I recognized that the band started to follow ME…chasing my melodies, building up the music around me.
I gained momentum, and my heart blew wide open. The notes turned into words- I was speaking of the deep gratitude I felt to you to be given this opportunity and how much it meant to me. I was celebrating you and your birth. When “I” was not there anymore, and God was truly flowing through me, the silence burst and the crowd went wild. At that moment, this huge note ripped from my gut, louder and higher and more powerful than I could sing even in my full health. Full proof that I was, indeed, channeling.
The note was on the word “love” as I was singing “I love you” to you. I actually turned around, turned my back on the audience, and sang this directly to you. Do you remember this at all, Mz. Badu?
You were moved, I could see it in your eyes. They were shimmering with moisture. You looked directly into my soul as you walked toward me. I stayed turned around, facing you, back to the audience, singing you my heart song. You approached me with open arms to embrace me, and as you did I wrapped the mic around you and put to back to my lips, holding it around your neck as I sang to you. We had almost a slow dance kind of hug as I continued to sing to you while you held me. This moment seemed to last forever! Words can’t explain the joy and deep presence I was feeling. It was God. It was Universal. It was timeless. I sang, I cried, I died, and transcended everything. My purpose had been actualized in a way I had not known I was capable of. Thank you for showing me myself that night!
My performance ended then and the audience went wild as you thanked me onstage. It was a moment I can never forget. It was quite simply the best stage experience of my life, though I had been performing professionally since age 11. But nothing could compare to this.
Then you led me off the stage. I gave you CD of my band at the time, Animastik. You thanked me sweetly. You were so humble and gracious. I felt so blessed. It was like I was in in dream, floating weightless above my body. I was so pissed later that I did not get a picture, an autograph, or anything to “prove” that I actually had this priceless experience that seemed so unreal. All I had was my tale to tell, my memory, and I know now that is all I needed, because I was totally present in the moment. I was on cloud freaking nine and logic or future consideration was simply not present in my being.
Then, you actually escorted me all the way back to the side stage door where you had first greeted me. You opened the door and my friends were waiting there for me. I fell into their arms, weeping and laughing. It was an “I could die happy right now” kind of moment. At that point I assumed that you had gone, but I was absolutely stunned beyond belief when my friends told me later that you remained behind me, massaging my shoulders, rubbing my back, and pointing at me to my friends, mouthing “she’s the shit!” That really blew my mind, and made me cry all over again.
Thank you, Mz Badu, for allowing me onto your stage and showing me a piece what was possible for me as an artist, for inviting a deeper part of my God-self out to play, and for challenging me to be my best. You have influenced me more than you will ever know, and helped to shape me as an artist. I have 2 solo albums out now that you can hear at http://www.amaelove.com/music
I want to say Happy Birthday to you Mz Badu! I know you are a pisces and it has passed already, but I am thinking of you now. May you all.ways be celebrated for being brave, for never fitting into a mold, for being a trail blazer, a spiritual warrior and an incredible mother and artist. You will forever be in my heart. I didn’t “make it” in the way I thought I would after 11 years in LA. Most don’t know who I am, but I have journeyed to the depths of my being and found the vibration of inner success. I am happy knowing that I am still living my dreams. But I still know I am capable of being heard by a wider audience. I have so much to give as an artist. My story is not over.
I have finally realized what I really want to do as artist, and I want to share it with you.
I love celebrating life with my beloveds through birthdays, so I wrote my own birthday song. It’s soulful and upbeat. I call it “the Amae-zing Birthday Song” and right now I am raising funds on Kickstarter to turn it into a music video, so It can go viral and showcase all of my amazingly talented friends. Then I envision us traveling the world together giving amazing, healthy, sexy, conscious parties.
Here is the link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/973582431/help-make-the-amae-zing-new-birthday-song-music-vi
I would be honored if you would be a part of this in some way- by contributing to my Kickstarter, (it ends this wednesday at midnight, so I hope you see this soon!) sharing the link on your Facebook wall, being in the video, or perhaps singing the song someday. Or whatever your heart calls you to. Perhaps someday we will be able to collaborate.
It’s a bold move asking you this, I know. It seems highly unlikely that The Queen Badu Herself will respond to lil’ old me. But then again, I never thought when I went to the House of Blues that night, that I would end up on stage with you, that I had it in me to do what I did. SO, as I always say, it never hurts to ask. I wish I’d learned this sooner, but it’s never too late to make your dreams come true
It’s hard to ask for what you want sometimes, but I feel there is no time for me to be afraid anymore. I want to dream big, to actualize more of my divine potential. The time is now to live my passions.
You may never read this, but then again… you might.
And if you did…..who knows. Anything is possible, right?!
I know that as an artist I want to be surrounded always by family, spreading joy and being interactive with my fans. This “Birthday Movement” allows me to do all of that and still “make it” in a holistic way. What could be better than inner and outer success, together at last?
I see you living this. You have been an inspiration to me.
Blessings on your path and thank you for being so deliciously YOU.
May all your dreams come true, Mz Badu.