Singer and innovative street performer Erykah Badu decided to sing for money on a busy Manhattan street and earned just under four bucks.
Badu, who was arrested in Dallas in 2010 after filming an unauthorized video for “Window Seat,” in which she stripped off all her clothes, didn’t summon the attention of law enforcement officers during her Oct. 10 performance. She didn’t summon the attention of anyone else, either.
“I just kind of always wanted to see what it would be like to sing for money on the streets,” she says early in the self-edited iPhone video.
Turns out, it’s not all that lucrative or rewarding, which should not be too surprising, sadly. (The Washington Post won a Pulitzer for its excellent story about acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell playing in obscurity in a D.C. Metro station).
One person recognized Badu, but she was after strangers’ donations, not fans’ attention.
“Beat it!” she tells a guy who wanted to take a photo. She did acquiesce, then removed her hat so no one else would recognize her.
Then she let her powerful vocals loose. She didn’t sing any of her hits, but rather a freestyle verse that basically went, “Give me some moneyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”
She wound up with $3.60 and a morality lesson.
“Look at all this money. If you’ve got some initiative, you can make money,” she says. Her video then flashes a message: “Easy to judge isn’t it … but in reality life is a lot harder than this.”
Here’s the video: