Music Legend, vegan and Doula, Erykah Badu is one of the strongest women in the Industry. She gets real, raw and speaks openly about vulnerability and staying centered. The following is an excerpt from ORIGIN Magazine's February issue, currently on stands.
Interviewer: Maranda Pleasant, Editor of ORIGIN Magazine
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MP: What is it that makes you vulnerable?
EB: My art. Or the empty platform that my art will go on.
MP: What do you do with pain, emotional pain?
EB: Not one particular way. It depends on the severity of it. For the most part, I go with it. I let it happen.
MP: How do you keep your center? How do you stay grounded in the middle of chaos?
EB: I guess it’s the daily routine. I don’t have any particular thing I do ritualistically. I do the same thing every day. I get up. Drink a lot of water. Have a wheatgrass shot. Drink some green juice. Eat as healthy as I can. I’m not trying to win an award for being the best vegetarian, just want to be healthy. Take a salt bath. Do things that my parents were never able to do. I’m blessed to do anything I want so I decide to take the best care of my body and my family in the same way. Holistically. Vitally.
MP: How long have you been a vegetarian?
EB: Let’s see. I’m forty-one. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 19. How many years is that?
MP: [laughing] That’s a long time.
EB: Yeah. I’ve been vegan-vegetarian for about the time my first album came out, so it was 1997. I eat like a vegan-vegetarian, more than anything.
MP: Do you have any wisdom or advice for women who may be in negative, unhealthy or abusive relationships? Do you have any wisdom for those women?
EB: Mm. I have advice for people—period—who are in unhealthy relationships: Follow your heart. It will get you to where you need to be. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s easy, the places that your heart takes you. But continue to follow it. Where the train leads you—you’ll get there.
MP: I had my daughter naturally at home, in our bathroom, with a doula. The doula was probably the most important person in that room with me. What led you to become a doula?
EB: Let me see. It was 9.11, actually. Around that time. One of my girlfriends was in labor, she happened to be the wife of stic.man from Dead Prez.
MP: He writes for [ORIGIN]!
EB: They’re my best friends, both of them, stic.man and Afya. I was actually flying from somewhere, doing something. On my layover, stic.man called me and told me Afya was in labor. I just redirected to New York, because we’re friends, and I just had Seven a couple years before. I just wanted to be there and we just all wanted to be together. I happened to be the person, one of the people, that stayed up with Afya. Didn’t sleep. Never got tired. I could feel every emotion that she had. It was just a very natural, intuitive experience. I just knew how to open myself up to the baby and be the welcoming committee. And now when Afya was in labor for fifty-two hours. Day and night. She’s my hero. And she finally had the baby and put my finger in his palm, and I kind of felt like, I like being the welcoming committee.
I just continued to be present at different people’s births, and I started studying on my own, different techniques, and the variables of what being a doula is about. I learned to originally be like water, in the place that I was, so that I could be a container for whatever they need. I love being of service in that way. I’m an official doula, and I am working to get my midwifery license right now.
MP: My midwife and my doula shaped my entire experience. It was beautiful. Have you had a homebirth?
EB: All my children were born in my bed. In my home. I had a midwife and doula each time.
MP: What has shifted for you, what is the thing about motherhood that flows through you? Is there something in you that is different, or that you have learned?
EB: I don’t know. I’ve got to think about that. I’ve never been asked that.
MP: You probably just live it. You’re not used to answering it, you just live it.
EB: I try to. Well, I just learn as I go. There’s no set way. I have a lot of faith in my abilities and in my children. I like them a lot, you know. They’re really good people, and I like them.
MP: What is one truth that you know for sure?
EB: Everything must change.
MP: Do you practice any kind of yoga or meditation?
EB: Breathing is my way of life. As a vocalist, just as a person who’s main focus is evolving, breathing—that’s my meditation. I enjoy yoga classes. I walk in meditation. I dance. I’m a ballerina. Modern jazz and tap. But I would love to get into a good yoga class if I can stay focused and breathe. I love the connection I have with myself every time I take a yoga class. It’s a very nice remembering, remembering the parts of me. You know what I mean?
But I walk and breathe in meditation. Another meditation I do: when I walk I count my steps, so I’m really in the here and right now. Another meditation I do is try to stay out of my mind as long as I can, as an exercise, so I don’t believe everything I think. I do many different things. Many different exercises that keep me focused.
Photos by Kenneth Cappello
ORIGIN is the conscious culture national print magazine bringing together art, yoga, music, humanitarianism, and sustainability to shift the planet for good. Twenty percent of our editorial is donated to nonprofits impacting the planet. You can find ORIGIN in Whole Foods, Barnes and Noble, Pharmacas, Central Markets and 15+ other National retailers.