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The American singer-songwriter and actress known as Erykah Badu was born Erykah Abi Wright in 1971 in Dallas, Texas. As a child, Erykah was raised by her mother, who was a stage actress. It’s no surprise then that young Erykah would become enamored with the field of entertainment at a very young age, taking to the stage alongside her mother when she was only a toddler.
By the time she was a teenager, Erykah had adopted “Badu” as part of her stage name and started studying the performing arts seriously while in high school. Although she briefly attended Grambling State University, she eventually left the school to focus on her career pursuits full-time, eventually recording her firsti demo, Country Cousins, which attracted the attention of Universal Records.
After signing her first major record deal, Erykah Badu released her debut album, Baduizm, in 1997. The album was an enormous success, critically and commercially, rising into the number one spot on the R&B charts and into the top five on the mainstream charts. Very quickly, Badu became recognized as one of the era’s emerging neo-style artists, drawing comparisons to such legends as Billie Holiday. Baduizm spawned four major hits (“On & On,” “Next Lifetime,” “Tyrone,” and “Apple Tree”) and earned Badu her first Grammys for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Album.
Since Baduizm, Erykah Badu has released the additional albums: Mama’s Gun (2000), Worldwide Underground (2003), New Amerykah Part One – 4th World War (2008), and New Amerykah Part Two – Return of the Ankh (2010.) The albums collectively spawned the additional hits: “Southern Gul,” “Bag Lady,” “ Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop),” “Danger,” “Honey,” and “Window Seat.” In addition, Erykah Badu has appeared as a feature artist on the songs: “You Got Me” (with the Roots); “Sweet Baby” (with Macy Gray); and “Q.U.E.E.N.” (with Janelle Monae.)
In recent years, Erykah Badu has also become recognized for her acting skills, especially following a breakthrough performance in the film The Cider House Rules (1999.) Badu’s role in the movie earned her multiple award nominations, to add onto the sixteen music-industry awards she has so far received. Currently, Erykah Badu continues to act and record, and has plans to return to the studio for another album release in the coming years.
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