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Erykah Badu Hosting Radio Series on Black Power/Black Arts
by Jerome Weeks 13 Jan 2012

Badu plays the Granada this month — but she can be heard as the narrator on a BBC 4 series that captures the ferment of the late ’60s and ’70s when black poets and musicians came to grips with AM — life in America “after Malcolm.”


Erykah Badu is hosting Black Is a Country, a BBC Radio 4 series about the Black Power and Black Arts movements of the late ’60s and ’70s. The show’s title, as Badu explains, comes from a poem by Amiri Baraka, who was instrumental in starting the loosely organized Black Arts movement as a direct response to the assassination of Malcolm X. It more or less became an aesthetic expression of Black Power, primarily in music, literature and visual arts.

Period figures who are interviewed on the program include Baraka, poet Sonya Sanchez and jazz greats Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra and Archie Shepp but we also hear from historians and the Last Poets. Currently, though, only episode 2 is streaming on the BBC player; it features adult language.

Badu will be at the Granada next Friday, Jan. 20 with the Cannibinoids (above, at the Wiltern in LA). But she can also be heard singing on the compilation documentary, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (below) — which, as far as I can tell, has screened in Austin but not in North Texas. Ahem.