|Birth name||Erica Abi Wright|
|Also known as||Low Down Loretta Brown, Analog Girl in a Digital World, Fat Belly Bella, Badulla Oblongata, Maria Mexico, Annie, She-Ill, Silly-E-Badu|
February 26, 1971 |
Dallas, Texas, United States
|Genres||R&B, neo soul, soul, funk, jazz, hip hop|
|Occupations||Musician, songwriter, activist, producer, actress, DJ|
|Instruments||Vocals, keyboards, guitar, drums, drum machine|
|Labels||Kedar, Universal, Motown, Puppy Love, Control Freaq|
|Associated acts||Soulquarians, The Cannabinoids, Madlib, The Roots, 9th Wonder, The Flaming Lips, Macy Gray, Mark Ronson, Stephen Marley, Dead Prez, Lenny Kravitz, Queen Latifah, Joi, Bahamadia, Angie Stone, Janelle Monáe|
Erykah Abi Wright (born Erica Abi Wright; February 26, 1971),1 better known by her stage name Erykah Badu / /, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, activist and actress. Her work includes elements from R&B, hip hop and jazz.1 She is best known for her role in the rise of the neo soul sub-genre. She is known as the "First Lady of Neo-Soul" or the "Queen of Neo-Soul".
Early in her career, Badu was recognizable for wearing very large and colorful headwraps. For her musical sensibilities, she has often been compared2 to jazz great Billie Holiday.34 She was a core member of the Soulquarians. As an actress, she has played a range of supporting roles in movies including Blues Brothers 2000, The Cider House Rules and House of D. She also speaks at length in the documentaries Before the Music Dies and The Black Power Mixtapes.
Erykah Badu was born Erica Abi Wright in Dallas, Texas on February 26, 1971. Her mother raised her, her brother Jabbada, and her sister Nayrok alone after their father, William Wright Jr., deserted the family early in their lives. To provide for her family, the children's grandmother often helped to look after them while Erykah's mother, Kolleen Maria Wright (née Gipson), worked as an actress in theatrical productions. Influenced by her mother, Erykah had her first taste of show business at the age of 4, singing and dancing with her mother at the Dallas Theatre Centre.
By the age of 14, Erykah was free-styling for a local radio station alongside such talent as Roy Hargrove. In her youth, she had decided to change the spelling of her first name from Erica to Erykah, as she believed her original name was a "slave name." The term 'kah' signifies the inner self. She adopted a surname of Badu because it is her favorite jazz scat sound; also, among the Akan people in Ghana, it is the term for the 10th-born child.5
Upon graduating from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Badu went on to study theater at Grambling State University, a historically black college. To concentrate on music full-time, she left the university in 1993 before graduating, and took on several minimum-wage jobs to support herself. She taught drama and dance to children at the South Dallas Cultural Center.
Working and touring with her cousin, Robert "Free" Bradford, she recorded a 19-song demo, Country Cousins, which attracted the attention of Kedar Massenburg. He set Badu up to record a duet with D'Angelo, "Your Precious Love," and eventually signed her to a record deal with Universal Records.5
Baduizm, Badu's highly acclaimed debut album, was released in early 1997 and debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts. Lead single "On & On" reached #12 on the singles charts in both the U.S. and UK. Badu received notice for her introspective lyrics and jazzy, bass-heavy sound, and was hailed as one of the leading lights of the burgeoning neo soul genre. Her particular style of singing drew many comparisons to Billie Holiday.6 Baduizm eventually went triple platinum and, along with "On & On", won 1999 Grammy Awards.
Badu recorded her first live album, Live, while pregnant with Seven, and the release of the recording coincided with his birth.8 Live reached #4 on the Billboard charts, selling double platinum; it had a hit R&B single, "Tyrone", a song chiding a selfish, cheap, and inattentive boyfriend.9 Badu also collaborated with the Roots (who had previously handled production duties on a number of tracks on Baduizm) on their breakthrough 1999 release, Things Fall Apart. She was featured on the song "You Got Me", co-written by Jill Scott, which hit the top 40 and won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
After taking some time off to raise her child, Badu returned in 2000 with Mama's Gun. The album was characterized as more organic in sound than her previous studio album, and primarily produced by the Soulquarians and noted bassist Pino Palladino. A remix of one of the album's songs, "Bag Lady", was issued as the first single and topped the R&B charts for seven weeks. The album was well-received, with the lyrical content winning notices from many publications. Reviewers found some of her lyrics hard to decipher on her initial releases.10 Despite not charting as high as her first two albums, Mama's Gun was another platinum-selling success, and "Bag Lady" was nominated for a Grammy Award.
By 2000, Badu was in a romantic relationship with fellow Soulquarian Common. The two released "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" as a collaboration on the Brown Sugar soundtrack. "Love of My Life" hit #9 on the pop charts, topped the R&B listings, and in 2003 Badu was awarded her fourth Grammy Award for it.11
After the release of Mama's Gun and "Love of My Life", Badu suffered writer's block.12 She hit the road throughout 2002 and much of 2003, on what she dubbed the "Frustrated Artist Tour", in search of inspiration to write and perform new material. By its conclusion, she headed back to the studio with new material. In September 2003, she released her third studio album Worldwide Underground. It was more jam-oriented than any of her prior releases, and Badu said that the album was designed to as "one continuous groove."13 Worldwide Underground reached #3 on the Billboard charts and was certified gold not long after its release. Badu received four further Grammy nominations for the album. She also contributed to Zap Mama's album Ancestry in Progress (2004), adding her vocals to the track "Bandy Bandy."
In 2005, she was a judge for the 4th Annual Independent Music Awards, to support independent artists' careers.
Her daughter Puma was born in 2004.
In 2007 Badu was said to have three albums in the works for release during 2007 and 2008. "Honey", a new single produced by 9th Wonder, was leaked online in November 2007. The fourth studio album, titled New Amerykah Part One (4th World War), was released on February 26, 2008. According to Nielsen Soundscan, New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) sold 359,000 copies in the United States by early 2010.14 Erykah Badu performed at the 10th annual Voodoo Experience in New Orleans the weekend before Halloween 2008.15 Badu released her fifth studio album, New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh), on March 30, 2010.16 An "Icon" CD series of Badu was released on August 31, 2010. It features 12 of the most favored hits from different albums of Erykah Badu.
On March 13, 2010,19 Badu filmed the video for her song "Window Seat", at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, the site of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. She wrote on her Twitter feed that the video "was shot guerrilla style, no crew, 1 take, no closed set, no warning, 2 min., Downtown Dallas, then ran like hell."20 The team did not acquire permission or permits from the city.
In the video, Badu shed her clothes as she walked along a Dallas sidewalk until she was nude at the site where Kennedy was shot. A shot rang out as the song ended, Badu's head jerked back, and she fell to the ground. Children with their families could be seen nearby as Badu stripped.21 When asked about stripping nude in the presence of minors, Badu said, "I didn’t think about them until I saw them, and in my mind I tried to telepathically communicate my good intent to them. That’s all I could do, and I hoped they wouldn’t be traumatized."1922 Some people were offended by the video.
In response, Badu said on The Wanda Sykes Show on April 3, 2010, that it was not her intention to insult the memory of the late President Kennedy, saying "My point was grossly misunderstood all over America. JFK is one of my heroes, one of the nation's heroes. John F. Kennedy was a revolutionary; he was not afraid to butt heads with America, and I was not afraid to show America my butt-naked truth."23 Coodie and Chike, directors of the "Window Seat" video, said they had bail money ready during filming, in case Badu was arrested.23 Badu said the video was a protest against “groupthink” and was inspired by Matt and Kim's music video "Lessons Learned." Badu has also said she has "no regrets".19
In 2013, Badu appeared on the songs "Treehome95" from Tyler, The Creator's album, Wolf, "Heaven for the Sinner" on Bonobo's album, The North Borders and "Q.U.E.E.N." from Janelle Monáe's forthcoming album, The Electric Lady.
She is reported to have a leading role alongside Mos Def in the upcoming indie film, Bobby Zero, which tells a story of a struggling couple, who hit rock bottom after Mos Def's character gives up his artistic dream to pursue an advertising corporate job to live on.24 She also appeared in scenes of the music video of Miko Marks' 2006 recording "Mama" and Common's video for "The Light," as well as making a special appearance on the sitcom Girlfriends. She was named the latest muse to fashion designer Tom Ford in 2008 as the face of his White Patchouli fragrance. Ford, longtime friends with Badu, considered her the best choice for the campaign. “I have always considered her a true beauty … she just fits”, says Ford.25
Badu’s style is a prime example of Neo-Soul, as she focuses on the contemporary styles of the genres soul and hip hop. She expresses a deeper message, as opposed to common R&B music. The songs in Badu’s album, “Baduizm” express her personal take on life. Her philosophy is influenced by African ideology, African-centered and Five Percent theologies, the complex views of the ancient Egyptians, and Southern African-American folk traditions. The majority of Badu’s music is greatly influenced by her beliefs of the Nation of Gods and Earths and her exploration of her African heritage.26
Badu also remains an activist in her hometown of South Dallas.citation needed Her charity organization, Beautiful Love Incorporated Non Profit Development (B.L.I.N.D. 501c3), provides community-driven development for inner-city youth through music, dance, theater and visual arts.27
Badu has become vegan and says of this practice: "Vegan food is soul food in its truest form. Soul food means to feed the soul. And to me, your soul is your intent. If your intent is pure, you are pure".28
Badu splits her time between Dallas and the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.29 Badu has three children. Her eldest child, fathered by André 3000, is a son named Seven Sirius Benjamin, born on November 18, 1997.7 Their relationship inspired him to write the song "Ms. Jackson".
From 2000 to 2002, she dated rapper Common.
On February 1, 2009, Badu gave birth to her third child, a girl named Mars Merkaba Flowers-Wright; with her boyfriend of five years, rapper Jay Electronica.30 It was a family event attended by Puma and Seven as well.31
On April 2, 2010, Badu was charged with disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor, for appearing nude in Dealey Plaza in Dallas while filming the music video for "Window Seat." No witnesses called police at the time of the incident, but the Dallas police actively sought witnesses after the release of the video.32 Sgt. Warren Mitchell said the decision to cite Badu for a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 — came after witness Ida Espinosa, 32, of Vernon, offered a sworn statement to police Thursday, April 1. Espinosa declined to comment to The Associated Press.33 On April 28, 2010, Badu pled not guilty rather than paying the fee by mail.3435 On August 13, she paid the $500 ticket and began a term of six months' probation.36
- Studio albums
- Baduizm (1997)
- Mama's Gun (2000)
- Worldwide Underground (2003)
- New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) (2008)
- New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) (2010)
- Live albums
- Live (1997)
- Baduizm Tour (1997)
- Mama's Gun World Tour (2001)
- Frustrated Artist Tour (2003)
- Worldwide Underground Tour (2004)
- Sugar Water Festival Tour (2005)
- Summer Tour (2006)
- The Vortex World Tour (2008)
- Jam Tour (2009)
- Out My Mind, Just in Time World Tour (2010)
- All That (1997)
- Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)
- The Cider House Rules (1999)
- House of D (2004)
- Before the Music Dies (2006)
- Dave Chapelle's Block Party (2006)
- Yo Gabba Gabba! (2009)
- Re:Generation Music Project (2012)
- Bush, John. "Erykah Badu > Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
- "Just Don't Compare Her To Billie Holiday - New York Times". Nytimes.com. 1997-04-06. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- "Erykah Badu Has a Good Attitude (But No One's Perfect)". NY Rock. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- "Erykah Badu: The Last Great Jazz Singer? - Revive MusicRevive Music". Revivalist.okayplayer.com. 2012-03-05. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- Waldron, Clarence (2001). "Erykah Badu". Jet.
- "Erykah Badu". Rock On The Net. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- Dunn, Jancee (February 14, 2001). "Q&A: Erykah Gets Her Gun - Ms. Badu Cooks up Sweet Soul Music". Rolling Stone magazine. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- dead link
- "Erykah Badu plans to make music, money and babies". Ebony (Findarticles.com). 1998. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- dead link
- "Erykah Badu: on her career and her romance with Common - Biography". Ebony (Findarticles.com). 2003. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- dead link
- "Erykah Badu". Net Music Countdown. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- "Erykah Badu Unveils 'New Amerykah, Part II'". Billboard. 2010-02-23. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- Z, Chris (June 6, 2008). "Erykah Badu and Wyclef Join Voodoo Experience Bill". planeturban.com. Retrieved July 18, 2008.dead link
- Reid, Shaheem (2010-02-01). "Erykah Badu Puts Her Family To Work On New Amerykah, Part Two - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV.com. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- "Flying Lotus Working With Erykah Badu | News". Pitchfork. 2011-04-11. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- "Chili Peppers’ Flea and Blur’s Damon Albarn Talk New Group: Rocketjuice and the Moon". Gibson.com. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
- Hauk, Hunter.Badu speaks out about 'Window Seat' video DallasNews.com. March 29, 2010.
- "Erykah Badu Strips On Downtown Dallas Street For Music Video". Kwtx.com. 2010-03-30. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- dead link
- Kreps, Daniel (April 2, 2010). "Police May Charge Erykah Badu for Nude "Window Seat" Video". Rolling Stone magazine. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- Hanek, Joel. Erykah Badu Defends "Window Seat" On 'Wanda Sykes Show', MTV.com., April 5, 2010.
- Morales, Wilson (2008-11-14). "Erykah Badu To Star Opposite Mos Def In 'Bobby Zero'". BV on Movies. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- dead link
- Marlo David, African American Review, Vol. 41, No. 4, "Afrofuturism and Post-Soul Possibility in Black Popular Music", Post-Soul Aesthetic (Winter, 2007), pp. 695-707.
- Muhammad Ali, Queen. "Erykah Badu Talks to Nation19.com about going BLIND and more, APDTA". Nation19.com / 19magazine. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
- Mickleborough, Lisa (July–August 2008, accessdate=December 26, 2011). VegNews Magazine http://www.vegnews.com/articles/page.do?catId=7&pageId=30
|url=missing title (help).
- Ryzik, Melena (March 2, 2008). "The Mind of a One-Woman Multitude". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- "Erykah Badu Twitters Third Child's Birth". Us Weekly. Wenner Media. February 2, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2009.dead link
- Sheppard, Ferrari. 2009 "Eyrkah Budu Interview". Retrieved September 14, 2009.
- Kreps, Daniel. "Erykah Badu Pleads Not Guilty to "Window Seat" Charge". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 11/7/13.
- "Erykah Badu charged over Dallas nude video shoot". Boston.com. April 2, 2010.
- "Singer Erykah Badu pleads not guilty to disorderly conduct charge". Dallas Morning News (DallasNews.com). April 29, 2010.
- Kreps, Daniel (April 30, 2010). "Erykah Badu Pleads Not Guilty to "Window Seat" Charge". rollingstone.com.
- "Stripping at Dealey Plaza costs Erykah Badu $500 fine, six months' probation". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 11/7/13.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Erykah Badu.|
- Official website
- Erykah Badu at the Internet Movie Database
- Erykah Badu's page on Gigulate
- Erykah Badu video