Erykah Badu was (born February 26, 1971) in Dallas Texas, known professionally as Erykah Badu is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress. Her mother raised her, her brother Eevin, and her sister Nayrok alone after separating from their father, William Wright Jr. To provide for her family, the children’s maternal and paternal grandmothers often helped look after them. Badu had her first taste of show business at the age of four, singing and dancing at the Dallas Theater Center and The Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL) under the guidance of her godmother, Gwen Hargrove, and uncle TBAAL founder Curtis King.
By the age of 14, Badu was freestyling 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 the surname “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.
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 university. To concentrate on music full-time, she left the university in 1993 before graduating and took 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.