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'Mama's Gun' her latest album
Erykah Badu continues on her funky way
HOLLYWOOD, California (CNN) -- R&B singer Erykah Badu sent shock waves through the recording industry in 1997 with the release of "Baduism," her debut album. It entered the charts at No. 2, the highest ever for a first-time artist.
She didn't stop there. Badu had a major impact on the "Smokin' Grooves" and "Lilith Fair" tours of 1997. Then, just months after her debut album, Badu followed up with the "Live" disc.
She collected an armload of awards that year, including two Grammys, and released a number of hit videos that she directed.
She extended her reach beyond the studio and music stage, too. Badu played cameo roles on "One Life To Live" and full roles in "Blues Brothers 2000" (1998) and "The Cider House Rules" (1999). Badu also had a son, Seven Sirius.
Badu's latest album is "Mama's Gun," released in October.
"CNN Showbiz Today" staffers recently spoke with Badu about working on a soap opera, motherhood and the origins of her name.
On motherhood and work: Motherhood gave me a lot of patience, and it is a humbling experience, because this whole new life comes into the world and instinctively knows so much more than you do. Having Seven in my life didn't change my songwriting, but it taught me how to pace myself as an artist. Raising him and writing songs comes from the same place in my soul.
It was a really wonderful example to me to get back to my innocence as well, because the child doesn't worry about how you feel, or how it looks or how it smells. He just lives and is peaceful and is kind for no reason at all -- that is what love is, and I learned a great lesson in love from my son.
On "Mama's Gun" and her growth as an artist: I just go with the wind because you get further that way. When it comes into my mind to change and grow, I do. So nobody should ever expect anything from me, because you are gonna be let down every time.
On "One Life To Live": I did "One Life to Live" because that is my grandmother's favorite soap opera, and I only did it because she'd be able to see me on it. When you get a chance to involve other people in your own blessings, that's the best thing, to me.
On directing: I love directing, because we live in the video age now, and when I am writing a song now, after the song has come to life with the music and everything ... the next thing that comes to life is a vision -- how you want people to see you. So, as an artist, I also take on the role as director for the videos that I appear in, because it's important that my vision is shown in its entirety. ...I enjoy doing that; it's fun to me. I love it.
It's like painting a picture. You don't know exactly how it's going to come out -- you know what you have in mind, a rough blueprint in your mind -- but you don't know how it's going to come out. …Only the artist knows when it's ready.
On her name: I was born Erica Abia Wright, … my mother was very proud of that name, Erikah. So, when I confronted her with "I want to change my name, you know, … This ain't my name, this is a slave name,' my mother said, "Well, the white man didn't name you that. I named you that and I like the name. I think it's a beautiful name." So, I thought about it and I said, "Well, there has to be some way for me to find meaning for myself, because I long for that." Instead of changing my name... I found meaning in it. I changed the spelling from E-R-I-C-A to E-R-Y-K-A-H.
Badu, my last name, came from my singing style, which is derived from scat music: "badhu, badhu..." And when I started singing, that was the scat, the only one that I knew. And that was what I would do every night, and I was known as Erykah 'Badu.'
On resting on her laurels: You are only as funky as your last cut.
Review: 'The Cider House Rules' -- both hard and sweet
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