Throwback Thursday: Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Mama Zap at Giant Step SummerStage 2001


With the madness of the holidays behind us and Mother Nature giving us some weather related blues, we thought it would be a nice vacation for the soul to take this Throwback Thursday to revisit a particularly hot and humid summer night with Erykah Badu at Central Park.

There’s something special about summertime in New York. The city slows down and everyone’s a bit more carefree. It’s late in the season, and the long, sweltering days make us hesitant to venture from our little slice of heaven we’ve found in the closest air conditioning. It was a show not to be missed though, and everyone knew the promise of the night would be worth the heaviness in the air. It was August 6, 2001 and those that faced the above and underground temperatures made it to one of the city’s favorite escapes for the SummerStage concert series.

As the sun started to set, two memorable performances followed from Belgian a capella group Mama Zap and one half of Black Star, Talib Kweli. When Badu took the stage, she gave an amazing performance playing her best material including “On and On” and “Next Lifetime” from her first album Baduizm to the most recent at the time Mama’s Gun. Giant Step President and CEO Maurice Bernstein describes the magical quality of the night, “I especially remember an incredible rendering of ‘Orange Moon’ and ‘Bag Lady’ [Mama's Gun]; for me this was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen Erykah do.” The audience was captivated and loving every minute of the show with Erykah feeding off of their energy in return. At one point, she dove from the stage and was carefully carried around and back again, caught in that moment of pure happiness that’s created between performers and their fans.

It was an exceptional night and one of those shows where you can’t stop smiling: you’ve just seen the best concert of the year, and it happened to be in this crazy, wonderful city of New York. Over here at Giant Step, we’re continually impressed with Badu’s talent and all of the new collaborations and music she delivers. A couple of weeks ago, we were honored to have Erykah join our weekly party #Offline, and we remembered that SummerStage show so many years ago. It’s a unique feeling when such a talented artist has the power to bring people together and remind us to hang on to those moments to get us through the long winter days or until the next time we meet on a hot summer night.