Born & Raised:
Real name: Erica Wright.
Born: Feb. 26, 1971 in south Dallas, Texas. Raised in Dallas.
Erica Wright, the girl who would grow up to become Erykah Badu, is the daughter of William Wright Jr. and Kollen Gipson. Erykah's father left the home when she was young, and she, along with her brother and sister, was raised by their mother in Dallas, Texas. Erykah began performing at an early age, influenced by her mother, an actress. Her first public performance was at age 4, when she performed with her mother at the Dallas Theatre Centre. While growing up in the 1980s she became multi-talented and sang, danced and rapped. Eventually she changed her stage name to Erykah Badu; Badu in Arabic means truth and light.
After Erykah graduated from the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, she went on to attend college at Grambling State University in Louisiana. She dropped out, however, to focus on her music career. She eventually made a demo tape which wound up in the hands of music mogul Kedar Massenburg and he signed her to Universal Records. Her debut album, Baduism, followed in February 1997. It was a critical and commercial success, reaching No. 2 on Billboard's albums chart. She also won Grammys for Best New Artist, Best R&B Album and Best R&B Song (for the single "On & On.")
Baduism ultimately sold over three million copies, and to date is still her most successful album ever. Sales of each subsequent album have been lower than the previous one, though she continues to be a popular, award-winning artist. As of mid-2008, she has won four Grammys, three Soul Train Awards, one American Music Award, an NAACP award and one BET Award. In addition to singing, Erykah has followed in her mother's footsteps by becoming an actress. She has appeared in numerous films, including Blues Brothers 2000 and The Cider House Rules. She's also appeared on the former UPN/The CW sitcom "Girlfriends."
Baby Mama Drama:
Erykah currently has two children: the eldest is a son named Seven Sirius Benjamin who was born in 1997. Seven's father is rapper-actor Andre "André 3000" Benjamin of OutKast. Next is a daughter, Puma Rose, who was born in 2004. Puma's father is former rapper Tracy "The D.O.C." Curry. In July 2008, it was confirmed that she was pregnant again, this time with hip-hop artist Jay Electronica. After news broke that she was preganant with her third child by a third man, she came under heavy criticism. She later shot back saying that she's an "excellent mother" and "complete without a partner and always will be."
The Last Word:
"The things that happen naturally will happen. But we can do some things to avoid the other stuff. We can stand together as people who accept each other as people and not as races and things – and stand up for one another. Stand up for what is ultimately right, and that is to divinely love each other." -- Erykah Badu to Westword Weekly's Backbeat Online blog, May 2008.
2010: New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh
2008: New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)
2003: Worldwide Underground
2000: Mama's Gun