An undeniable creative force took hold 20 years ago this week (Feb. 11, 1997) when Motown released a game-changing album by a newcomer named Erykah Badu. And on Thursday evening, that same force was in full effect as Badu powered up a mini-set of songs from Baduizm. The occasion was Essence magazine’s annual Grammy Week salute to Black Women in Music, this year honoring Badu.
Next-gen soulster Solange surprised the crowd packed inside NeueHouse Hollywood when she entered from the wings to introduce and later present the Essence award to the singer-songwriter-producer. Calling Badu “our mother, sister, daughter,” Solange prefaced her introduction with a brief story about feeling “overwhelmed by all that I felt was expected of me” following last year’s release of her own breakthrough album, A Seat at the Table.