MUSIC: BIRTH OF A NEW SOUL

SINGER ERYKAH BADU WANTS TO EXPAND THE BOUNDARIES OF R. AND B.

When singer-songwriter Erykah Badu goes before an audience, she observes a ritual to clear away any preperformance anxiety. "I light my candle onstage," says Badu. "I create my calm where I am. I close my eyes, open them again, and I'm O.K." Badu's music is a lot like that. Her debut CD, Baduizm (Kedar Entertainment/Universal), draws from soul, jazz, blues and hip-hop--but instead of a chaotic swirl of sound, the result is a slow-burning, serene, meditative work. It will open some eyes.

Badu, 25, is part of a promising trend in pop music. Along with other neo-soul performers like Maxwell, Groove...

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