Erykah Badu To Perform Benefit Concert For Dallas Spanish Immersion School Spanish House on Friday.
Last Wednesday night was a big one for Erykah Badu. In addition to making a surprise appearance (and possibly even stealing the damn show) at the Bad Boy Family Reunion concert at the American Airlines Center, the iconic Dallas-born-and-raised R&B singer also got to watch the broadcast premiere of Comedy Central’s Legends of Chamberlain Heights, the show for which she’s acting as music supervisor.
Well, she got to watch it for a bit, anyway. Turns out, the check-in time for her appearance at the AAC — which came at the personal request of Puff Daddy, she says — was right smack dab in the middle of Legends‘ debut, meaning she could only catch a few minutes of the show before pausing it on her DVR and returning home to finish it later.
“Fortunately, I’d already seen the finished product,” she says, giggling.
This week, as she prepares to take part in yet another Dallas-area performance, Badu’s making certain her attention is less divided. That’s because this show is one that’s close to her heart, she says.
On Friday, September 23, at the Dallas Children’s Theater, Badu will perform what she says will be an intimate stripped-down concert, backed by a three-piece band. The show will serve as a fundraiser for the Spanish House, a Dallas private school that is aiming to increase its Spanish immersion education offerings by expanding its couple-years-old elementary school campus to handle its growing student body. (The Spanish House also offers nursery school and preschool programs across the city.)
The school’s directive — to completely teach its students all subjects in Spanish under the understanding that its students are already learning English at home — is one that speaks directly to Badu, who says she is herself attempting to learn a few new languages at the moment (through a smartphone app that she praises, but refuses to name without being paid to do so).
“I just think it’s a hugely important idea,” Badu says of being multilingual, admitting that she wishes she’d been encouraged to learn multiple languages in her younger years. “Language is such a barrier in our world. Communication is vital to our understanding of each other’s cultures and to the compassion we have for one another as part of the human race.”
That’s something Badu says she’s seen firsthand through her travels across the globe while touring and performing her music. She’s been fortunate to have had translators along for her interactions with fans and show promoters in non-English-speaking countries, but realizes that such a luxury isn’t feasible for everyone.
“One thing those travels have helped me realize, though, is that music is the universal language,” Badu says. “I’ll perform in these other countries, and the people will sing back to me, making the same noises and focusing more on the melodies.”
And so Badu will be relying on that universal musical language this week to help bring attention to one area school’s efforts at bridging the gaps between spoken language barriers. The idea to throw a concert was all hers, she says; same goes for the idea of making tickets available for purchase to the public, which the school was uncertain of at first. Her hope is that the concert, in addition to raising funds for the school, will go a long way toward increasing awareness that such a program is even available for area children.
“It’s just an amazing school,” Badu says of Spanish House, which charges $10,450 in annual tuition fees for its elementary school students. “I think anyone with the means to send their child there should consider it.”
The benefit of such a school extends beyond the students themselves, Badu says — something she’s learned by watching on with envy as her own three children have gone on to learn multiple languages in their own schooling. Learning what she can along with her children, Badu says, is how she decided it was time she tried to learn another language for herself.
“I think it’s a great thing for this world,” she says.
But will she go so far as to put her own lessons to work on Friday night? Will she perhaps translate one of her songs into Spanish for the small crowd for whom she’ll be playing this special, “more jazzy” set?
“I might have to now that you mention it,” Badu says with a laugh. “We’ll see.”
Erykah Badu performs a fundraiser for the Spanish House on Friday, September 23, at the Dallas Children’s Theater. Tickets start at $150 right here.