Dallas Observer Music Awards

The DOMA Ceremony Was a Gathering of Talent and Old Friends, But Erykah Badu Stole the Show

Erykah Badu was the night's big winner.
Erykah Badu was the night's big winner. Mike Brooks

The red carpet rolled out at Canton Hall on Tuesday evening for the 31st annual Dallas Observer Music Awards ceremony.

The venue was buzzing with excitement from the moment the doors opened, letting in lines of fur, sequins, leather and oh so many accessories. There’s no doubt it was the best dressed (and most talented) gathering any Tuesday night in Dallas has seen.

DOMA was a clear reunion for many, as the artists and guests strutted down the red carpet only to break into high school-like shrieks while seeing old friends. The close-knit nature of the Dallas music scene was ever apparent.

The night kicked off with a pink tulle dress-toting Dezi 5 opening as host, singing his soon-to-be-a-hit, “Lady,” which led into a sultry rendition of Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady.” The stage was a conglomeration of color and style, as Dezi sang and reached for the audience from behind large, Jackie O. sunglasses and swung around in black platform boots that put him high above the crowd.
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Artist Hilly Holsonback painting one of Jacob Metcalf and Doug Burr's dancers.
Mike Brooks
The Gray brothers and Jackie “Juice” Whitmill carried the band behind him; Juice, his oversized telescope hat swaying from behind the drums; Kwinton —  in glassy red, retro-squared shades to match his red-dyed, high top hair — played the keys superbly across from his brother KJ, who kept us toe-tapping to the bass in a colonial red blazer and micro oval shades to match. And we can’t forget their dangling earrings, which the two noted as their fashion staples in a red carpet interview.

"We have our own thing that started right here in Deep Ellum. My music is rooted here.” — Erykah Badu

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Presenters began taking the stage, starting with Mike Rhyner from The Ticket sports radio show who presented with fellow radio notable George Dunham, leading into an array of other well-known Dallas figures, including The D.O.C., Cold Cris, Mr. Pookie, Grammy winners Symbolic One and Jah Born, Stone Mecca (who was fashionable as ever in a brown suede suit), and DJ Spinderella and her daughter, DJ Christy Ray, who complemented one another in chic black leather and satin.

Between the frenzy and excitement that filled the room upon each winner announcement were magical performances that hit all ends of the musical spectrum: Cody Lynn Boyd gave us a sultry, old-school rock sounding set, clad in his usual, ‘60s-style turtleneck. Ronnie Heart brought every move with a wild, interpretive dance number, followed by the acclaimed Jacob Metcalf and Doug Burr, who played a unique, folky collaboration, both in clean, black tuxes as vintage Goldie Hawn-inspired bikini-clad dancers go-goed around them.

Midlake kept us swaying with their bluesy rock performance that one can always expect to impress, and ended with a blood-pumping electric guitar solo that had the crowd begging for more. And, in a switch of pace, Courtney Crave swung over the crowd in rose-decorated lingerie for a delightfully masochistic suspension performance that had a stunned audience wincing from pain and pleasure.

Medicine Man Revival, whose frontman, Keite Young, won Best Male Vocalist and whose guitarist, Jason Burt, won Best Producer, wowed as always with a funky, soulful cover of "Vicious" by Lou Reed, both sporting their staple looks: Young in a wide-brimmed feather-topped hat and Burt, rocking out in a low-key green beanie.

One of the crowning moments was when Rosegarden Funeral Party, who took home Best Group Act, took the stage to give their final DOMA performance as Dallas residents, before the group moves out to the West Coast. Lead singer Leah Lane won Best Female Singer and dazzled as always in extravagant silver and black cat eye makeup, with what must have been pounds of gems draped around her neck from choker to chest. In their performance, they gave a special shout-out to our Observer editor with a cover of “These Boots are Made for Walking.”

After moving tributes by Cold Cris and Rob Free, who introduced hip-hop legend The D.O.C., one of the founders of Death Row Records. D.O.C. had many words of praise for Badu and her astonishing contributions to the music industry.

The highlight of the night, however, was no question, when Erykah Badu made her sweeping entrance to receive her Lifetime Achievement award. Draped in a fur coat with (literally) killer heeled boots with braids hanging nearly to the floor on both sides, she beamed at the audience from behind large, red-rimmed glasses and a black, captain-style hat to top it off, in her usual cap-toting fashion.

Badu shared her experience from rising artist to music legend through stories about her team and other musicians who were all in the room, while giving props to the city's music history and the blues greats that came before her, who she said other city musicians and herself carry in their atoms.

One of the loveliest presents that Badu brought to the stage though, other than getting the crowd clapping and laughing together, was when she reminded the audience of her Dallas roots and how they’ve led her through her career, like she said:

“I like the sound of the birds. I like the smell of the air. I like the sound of the cars and the expressways, and freeways; all those things inspire me. All those things are huge. This place is where I found my understanding of music, my own theory of music. We have our own thing that started right here in Deep Ellum. My music is rooted here.”
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Host Dezi 5 brought the glamour.
Mike Brooks
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Ryann Gordon is an Oklahoma-born writer who has lived in Dallas since 2016. After attending the University of Oklahoma, she began writing for Preview Magazine in Tulsa. She currently writes for the Dallas Observer and Katy Trail Weekly, where she represents the face of the “Uptown Girl” column.