Neo-soul singer Erykah Badu embodies a level of grace, wisdom and love we should all strive to achieve.
And on Monday night, she exemplified the best of these qualities during a special vegan dinner in New York City to help celebrate her as the host for the 2016 Soul Train Music Awards, which airs on BET on Sunday. The event, which was named “Vegan With Soul,” featured fabulous food and aimed to feed the mind, body and soul of the 25 journalists of color (including yours truly) Badu invited to dine with her that evening.
“I’m happy to be here in this moment,” Badu told guests. “In being able to enjoy this moment and be in it, and not be somewhere else in my mind or be sad about something or be somewhere that I don’t want to be. I’m happy to be here right now.”
The dinner was held at The Kitchen Table, a chic dining space in lower Manhattan that was decked out with incense-burning candles, dim purple lighting and kimono-wearing guests (per Badu’s request). It was an intimate scene ― one that came with great conversation and a menu specially curated by Afro-Vegan author and chef Bryant Terry with help from the popular culinary group Ghetto Gastro.
Badu, who has been vegan for nearly two decades, kicked off the dinner by welcoming guests and introducing Terry, who shared powerful words on the importance of coming together through food ― but his opener did not come without a cautious reminder: “This is not for you all, this is for Erykah,” he joked.
The savory menu came with creative and beautiful dishes that fed our bellies and our souls. It included glazed carrots, purple potato soup, barbecue tempeh and a scrumptious “Lord Help Me” spiced apple and sweet potato pie for dessert.
Terry, who spoke with People magazine’s Janine Rubenstein following the event, said: “My work is about celebrating the diversity of vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes and expanding people’s notions of African-American cuisine.”
The table buzzed with conversation and laughter as we wined and dined. But the night didn’t end without playing a fun game or two. For the first game, guests were asked to participate in a more playful challenge by selecting celebrity names from a hat and sharing one thing we believe they may be thankful for. Folks were fully engaged as names included everyone from Beyoncé and Blac Chyna to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
But Badu ended the night in the best way by having guests play a game aptly titled “Love, Soul and Peace.” The game prompted people to share one thing that drives their happiness, one person or thing that they could live without and one thing that they love most about themselves.
Badu played along and expressed thanks to her family, wished death to all mosquitoes and relished the fact that she is a compassionate and giving woman.
If nothing else, Monday night proved this all the more.