Erykah Badu prepares to rock Cemil Topuzlu Stage

Erykah Badu prepares to rock Cemil Topuzlu Stage

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Erykah Badu prepares to rock Cemil Topuzlu Stage

U.S. singer Erykah Badu performs during the three-day Elevation music festival near the Bulgarian capital Sofia June 24, 2012. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Long-awaited neo-soul diva Erykah Badu is finally visiting our humble town as part of the 19th Istanbul Jazz Festival organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV).

Through her controversial and brilliant career, Badu has gained great admirers around the globe, Istanbul being no exception. The absolute highlight of the festival, Badu will be taking the stage on June 13 at the Cemil Topuzlu Open Air Theater.

It is not only casual concert-goers that are set to lose themselves in the thrill of the opportunity to see the diva live; her performance is sure to be a great experience for the local jazz and soul scene.
Badu is a fighter. She does not yield to limitations imposed by fame, nor does she look like she is entertained by it at all. As it is the case with all her peers, giving interviews is not her favorite pastime. The Hürriyet Daily News wishes to welcome the diva with contributions from prominent music writers and jazz musician Elif Çağlar, who recently gave a performance at the award ceremony that marked the opening of the 19th Istanbul Jazz Festival.

Live to tell, strip like there is no hell


Some people have different ways of expressing their feelings, like Erykah Badu. Although she says that she chiefly tells her anger, love or any other emotion through her music, it is obvious that sometimes the music itself is not enough to convey some thoughts. And there she has got to choose other means. From her beautiful songs to her reasoned lyrics, from her big hats to her provocative character, she is a different and special soul. It is no surprise that she chose Dallas, Texas, where President John F. Kennedy was notoriously assassinated, for the shooting of the video of her 2010 song “Window Seat.” In the video she starts to strip while walking on the streets, until she is totally naked. And in the finale she is shot to death. The video immediately raised eyebrows but it is a perfect example of how Badu gets critical of multiple issues in one go. We may assume that Badu does not give a thought to whether nudity or using symbols related to religion damages her career. But the damage has been done. After a photo showing her “Allah” (God) tattoo was released, her concert in Malaysia was canceled.

The first lady of neo-soul music style


Erykah Badu is not among the market’s favorite. Her songs are never MTV-type. But when she is going to get naked, she does so without a second thought. And she does it for a reason. She gets naked in such a way that you don’t see her body but look for the message instead. You hear soul, funk, hip-hop and pop tunes in her music. Even listening to her 10-minute songs becomes a ritualistic act. And it is this type of ritual that awaits Badu fans in Istanbul. Erykah Badu is among those few concerts in this year’s jazz festival selection that stands at a distance to jazz as we know it. Although her albums are closer to hip-hop tunes, she gives more room to funk rhythms and jazzy vocals in her shows. If I am supposed to make a forecast about the upcoming Istanbul show by what I know from video footage of her concerts that I have had the opportunity to see, I can say that Badu is going to entertain us very much. This concert tops the list of “the concerts not to miss this year,” and we can do nothing else but bow down before the “First Lady of Neo-Soul.”

A prominent name in the neo-soul scene


I was introduced to Erykah Badu’s music when I was 17 years old through her song “On&On.” Ever since, I have been a great admirer of her music. Her against-the-grain attitude and general way about things, the universality of the songs she writes and of the musicians she works with, as well as the poetic quality of her lyrics, place her among the most prominent names of the neo-soul music scene. Plus, she has an amazing energy on stage, and I am very sure an unforgettable concert awaits us.

The mysterious ruler of the neo-soul scene


In the late 1990s, while I was trying to acclimatize myself to the time difference after I returned to Turkey from the United States, I would frequently spring from my bed in the dead of the night and lazily sit myself before the TV to kill some time. If I was lucky, there would be a live airing of an award ceremony and she used to be the first thing that caught my eye with her half-meter long headwrap in the birds’ eye view provided by the jimmy-jib cameras that hovered over the venue packed with celebrities who had gathered for the special occasion. It would give me naughty pleasure to think that the unfortunate celeb seated in the row behind would be missing the whole ceremony as the giant head piece would totally block the view. It has been a long time since Erykah Badu got away with her headwrap. This mysterious lady, who has secretly governed the neo-soul scene from her underground castle since her 1997 debut album “Baduizm,” is finally in Istanbul. As a person who has missed all of the nine tours she has given around the world so far, I really wonder what this cool woman, a modern Amazon with her warrior soul, will be shouting at us, in the face, from stage.