By Claire Stern
Nov 27, 2016 @ 10:00 am
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"When I think of soul songs, I think of Rose Royce," said Erykah Badu on a recent afternoon at the InStyle offices in lower Manhattan. She's in town to host BET's Soul Train Awards, airing live today, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m. ET, for the second consecutive year in a row. The most exciting part of the gig, she said, is to watch people win. "It's great to see the smiles on everyone's faces. That's what I look forward to."

Of course, scooping up honors at the annual awards show is nostalgic for the singer, who was memorably named Favorite New R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist for her single "On & On" off her debut album Baduizm in 1997. "That laid a path for everything that came later," she said. "I've paced myself very subtly. I realized that it's not a race, and I take my time. The most fulfilling thing is that I am able to give to my children as much as I give to my career."

Badu, who's mother to a son, Seven, 19, and two daughters, Puma, 12, and Mars, 7, currently splits her time between Dallas and Fort Greene in Brooklyn, NY. "What my children consider soul music I wouldn't call soul music at all," she said, then added, "I don't know if they'd even categorize it anymore. Music is music. Everything is kind of mixed together. I'm enjoying the cross-pollination of a lot of different things."

Here, watch her throw it back to 1976 with an acapella rendition of "Car Wash."