- NAME: Erykah Badu
- OCCUPATION: Singer
- BIRTH DATE: February 26, 1971 (Age: 43)
- Did You Know?: The mega hit "Tyrone" was actually improvised live.
- EDUCATION: Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Grambling State University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Dallas, Texas
- Full Name: Erica Abi Wright
- AKA: Erica Wright
- AKA: Erykah Badu
- ZODIAC SIGN: Pisces
Best Known For
Erykah Badu is best known for her soulful music style, showcased on albums such as the Grammy Award-winning Baduizm and 1997's Live.
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Born in 1971 in Dallas, Texas, Erykah Badu was exposed to the arts early on, and eventually began to perform in shows at the local Dallas Theater Center. In 1996, Badu's demo caught the attention of music producer Kedar Massenburg, who signed her and paired her with D'Angelo to record the song "Your Precious Love." Kedar Entertainment later merged with Universal Motown. Today, Badu is best known for her soulful music style,
"I'm free. I just do what I want, say what I want, say how I feel, and I don't try to hurt nobody. I just try to make sure that I don't compromise my art in any kind of way, and I think people respect that."
"Personally, I don't choose any particular religion or symbol or group of words or teachings to define me. That's between me and the most high. You know, my higher self. The Creator."
"Music and the music business are two different things."
which is showcased on albums such as the Grammy Award-winning Baduizm and 1997's Live.
Erykah Badu was born Erica Abi Wright on February 26, 1971, in Dallas, Texas. (She would later choose the moniker Erykah Badu—"kah" is an Egyptian term for one's "inner self," and "badu" is her favorite jazz-riff scat sound.) Raised by her actress mother, Kolleen Maria Gipson, Badu was exposed to the arts early on. She danced and sang for her mother from a very young age, and eventually began to perform in shows at the local Dallas Theater Center. When it came time for Badu to attend high school, she chose Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She flourished at the arts magnet school, focusing on singing and dance.
Badu was also active in the Dallas music community during this time, and even began freestyling on a local Dallas radio station under the name DJ Apples. Following her graduation from high school, Badu attended Grambling State University, a historically black institution in Grambling, Louisiana. She majored in theater and minored in quantum physics. In 1993, Badu left Grambling to pursue her career in music. She moved back to Dallas, where she worked as a drama teacher and as a waitress while she recorded a demo.
In 1996, Badu's demo caught the attention of music producer Kedar Massenburg, who signed her and paired her with D'Angelo to record the song "Your Precious Love." Kedar Entertainment, then a small start-up label, later merged with Universal Motown.
Badu's debut album, Baduizm, exploded onto the music scene in 1997 with soulful hits such as "On & On," "Next Lifetime" and "Appletree." The album marked a shift in the music of its time and began what was labeled a "neo-soul" movement. Baduizm received critical acclaim and won Badu two Grammy Awards, for best female R&B vocal performance and best R&B album.
Badu released her second LP, Live, later that year. During the recording, Badu was pregnant with her first child, son Seven Sirius, whose father is legendary Outkast artist André 3000. The album went double platinum, and Badu's unmatchable talent was firmly established with the album's breakout song, "Tyrone," which was completely improvised on stage.
In 1999, Badu collaborated with the distinguished hip-hop group the Roots to create the song "You Got Me." Badu struck Grammy gold yet again with the song, taking home the trophy for best rap performance by a duo or group. That same year, she made her big-screen debut, portraying the heartbreaking, tortured character Rose Rose in The Cider House Rules.
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