How an Erykah Badu-led Soul Train Awards Inspired Me Creatively
The 90s-themed 2016 Soul Train Awards, hosted by the talented Erykah Badu, brought me back to the days as a kid, sitting around watching Moesha, singing along to Aaliyah on the radio, and staring at Tupac's pictures in Word Up! Magazine. It also brought me back to the time as a young creative, making up stories about folks in my Texas neighborhood and daydreaming about writing a book series like The Babysitter's Club or Goosebumps.
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What I enjoyed most about the show was Erykah Badu’s creative influence. From comedy skits to singing collaborations, Badu's forward-thinking elevated the show to greater heights, quality, and motivation for others to create.
While watching I picked up on a few teachable moments that can inspire young creatives everywhere:
For one, you must perfect your craft. Every since Erykah Badu introduced the "Soul Cypher," we've witnessed older and newer school artists join together in a Power Ranger-type singing force. Their undeniable talent and skill is a testament that greatness doesn't occur overnight. Legend-like greatness -- like Ms. Gladys Knight -- takes great patience, practice, perseverance, and consistency.
Two, think outside the box. Erykah Badu and her futuristic introductions and comedy skits weren't the only sign of creativity on display. Among the honorees of the Badu-led Soul Train Awards was Teddy Riley, a man who created his own sound known as the New Jack Swing. To know that it is possible to invent a whole new genre of music should inspire creatives to use their imagination and various influences to deliver unique material to the world.
Third, don't be afraid to show your personality. This year, Badu awarded internet personalities for their creative videos. Sometimes, people are fearful of putting themselves or their work in the public sphere because they are afraid of rejection. However, when you are confident in yourself and your work regardless of public opinion, opportunities just may float your way.
Lastly, celebrate others in your field. The creative world is a community. This was evident watching Jill Scott gush over Brandy as she presented her with the Lady of Soul Award. I can also see this when Badu and India Arie sung together, Badu grooving to Arie's guitar skills. It also warmed me to see Tyrese honor the legend Gladys Knight through his words. We are not on this earth to be an island, but to uplift and inspire each other with our gifts and talents.
It’s your time, creatives. Use every inspirational tool to produce timeless material and leave a legacy like those before us.