Erykah Badu, Mountain View Winery, June 19, 2010

Having discovered Erykah Badu’s in 1997 when I was fresh out of college (the same college Badu attended), I’ve been a die-hard fan of the “On & On” singer. If I were stranded on a deserted island and only had the option of listening to one singer – hands down – she would be the chosen one.

For 13 years, I’ve been on the Badu ride. I remember when “Mama’s Gun” was released and how I thought she had written “Bag Lady” with me in mind. For me, that album was a great follow up to “Baduizm” and I believed it was her best album (I still do. “Worldwide Underground” is a close second).

The first time I saw her in concert was at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, CA. As I stood in a long line to purchase tickets, I engaged myself in a conversation with some ladies about how profound Erykah was and how people just didn’t get her.

I have lost count of the times I’ve defended her against those that say she’s “weird.”

“She’s not,” I say. “She’s just a human being who happens to be different and on a higher plane some people will never reach. And she believes in being true to herself no matter what others think.”

If only everyone could be so brave and live according to their own rules.

When she released new “Amerkyah Part I, 4th World War,” I’ll admit it didn’t grow on me. I tried and tried – and tried – to like it. In the end, I just couldn’t. I was used to a different sound and message.

I told myself she had one more album before I couldn’t support her anymore. Then along came her single “Window Seat.” Aw, I proclaimed, here’s the Erykah I enjoyed.

I happily purchased “New Amerkyah Part II, The Return of the Ankh,” and after listening to this album over and over, I now have an appreciation for the first New Amerkyah. How funny is that?

All of this brings me to her Out of My Mind, Just in Time tour. Having missed her performance earlier this year because of aforementioned reasons, I quickly purchased my ticket to the Mountain View Winery. She was performing at the Paramount in Oakland, but I dislike that venue for reasons I’ll write about in another blog.

Through the red haze of lights, Badu’s band opened the show with “Amerykahn Promise” and transitioned into “20 Feet Tall.” Out strolled Erykah singing crisp and clear: “My love/ what did I do/to make you fall/so far from me.”

The jazzy, yet at times, up tempo set continued with “Out of My Mind, Just in Time,” “I Choose Me,” “Gone Baby Don’t Be Long,” and “On & On.”

During “Didn’t Cha Know,” Erykah told the crowd that there will be a “brighter day if you believe. Not because I told you to, but just believe in yourself as I believe in you.”

The song highlight of the night for me is from the album Baduizm. “No Love” is a song who’s meaning hit me while driving down the highway one night with my ex-boyfriend. Those lyrics expressed exactly how I felt at the time.

The most hilarious moment of the evening was when she sang “You Loving Me (Session).” Every time I hear this song, I crack up and Erykah let the crowd know she really wouldn’t do that to a man she was dating.

“I Want You,” is already a sexy song, but she made it even sexier by adding Zapp and Roger Troutman’s “More Bounce to The Ounce.”

My only complaint is that the set was too short – apparently the Winery has a 10:15 p.m., curfew I wasn’t aware of. The crowd didn’t get to hear “Bag Lady” or “Tyrone,” but I was fortunate enough to have seen Badu the previous evening at Yoshi’s in San Francisco, where she blessed the crowd with the aforementioned songs.

Side note: I really enjoyed the sound quality at the Mountain View Winery and there really wasn’t a bad seat in the house.

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