It was in South Dallas, Texas, that a future star was born under the name, Erica Wright. The girl who was delivered to the world on February 26, 1971, has a sister and a brother. Her father walked out on her mother, herself and her siblings when she was still little, leaving her mother to fight for their existence by engaging in several jobs as an actress. It was the exact same thing that influenced Badu to choose her career path later.
While still a four year old, she was taken by her mother to perform and dance at Dallas Theater center. Coming to the age of teen, she had become quite apt in freestyling that eventually led her to meet beatboxer, Ray Hargrove. Once she graduated from high school, she set her mind straight to performing education. She was a theater student of Black College Grambling State University before choosing music over the course. Just before she graduated from college, Badu abandoned the education to pursue what she loves, music.
With help from her cousin, she recorded a demo tape that drew the attention of producer, KedarMassenburg. It was not long until she was introduced to D’Angelofor and a duet was signed with Universal Records. Her first eponymous album, Baduizm, was released in 1997 and it was not relatively hard for the album to reach number 2 on Billboard Hot 200 chart with the highly-acclaimed single, On & On.
Besides helping the set to reach platinum, the single also won Badu her first Grammy in 1998 for Best R&B Vocal Performance - Female. Her love ride also blossomed when she tied a romantic relationship with Andre 3000 from OutKast. She became pregnant with his child in 1997 but continued to record an album while carrying the bun in the oven. Her first live album titled, Live, was dropped in November 1997 to another acclaim. It reached platinum with the help of the radio hit, Tyrone, and the raw delivery of her songs.She gave birth to a son named Seven but separated from Andre in the late ‘90s.
After taking some time to nurse her child, Badu tried her skills at acting. In 1998, she was cast in Blues Brothers 2000 and the year after, the Oscar-winning drama, The Cider House Rules. For her role as a raped woman named Rose Rose, Badu received a win at 2008 Black Reel Awards for Theatrical - Best Supporting Actress. Meanwhile, she was also thriving with her music career as more and more collaborations with Soulquarian members like ?uestlove, J Dilla, Q-Tip were done. Eventually, it led her to becoming the only female member to join the like-minded group that later spawned successful solo artistes.
Her second studio album, Mama’s Gun, was released in October 2000 to another warm reception. Although it did not sell as much as her first two efforts, the album managed to secure Badu’s name as one of the prominent Neo-soul singers in the world. Bag Lady, a single from the album, gained two nominations at the 2001 Grammy Awards which were followed by three others in the same event in 2003 for her collaboration with then lover, Common, in Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop).
In 2002 and 2003, Badu supported Mama’s Gun in a tour which was dubbed, “Frustrated Artist Tour”. She was traveling while performing to seek inspiration for her next studio record. Once the tour was concluded, she began the work that resulted in the 2003 “Worldwide Underground” and for the release, she was again a nominee at Grammys that year.