Eryka Badu is an iconic artist who birthed what we now know as neo-soul; through this, she has continued to inspire many other artists in the music industry.
Erica Abi Wright, also known as Erykah Badu, was born on February 26, 1971, in Dallas, Texas. She was raised by her mother, Kollen Maria Gipson, who was an actress that introduced Ms. Badu to the entertainment world. In addition to having her mother around, she was also raised by her godmother and her two grandmothers. Badu from a young age began performing because of her mother as a dancer and continued her performing at Booker T. Washington High School (known for performing and visual arts). Once leaving high school Badu continued her education at Grambling University where she left in 1993 to pursue her music career. Badu’s demo that she recorded with her cousin, Robert “Free” Bradford, caught the attention of producer Kedar Massenburg, who helped Erykah Badu kick start her music career.
Erykah Badu started performing at the young age of four, but it was not until after she left Grambling that she really began her singing career. When she left Grambling, she worked as a waitress while also working on her demo. Badu’s first album Baduizm took over the charts when it was first released in 1997. Baduizm included hits such as “On & On” and “Next Lifetime” that put Badu on the map and earned herself the title “The queen of neo-soul”. When people heard her album they loved the vibe and the emotion that came with her music. It was different from what people were used to hearing and her sound was just something that really set people off; so much so that her first album earned her a grammy and two other awards to accompany. Soon following her massive debut, she released her second album later that year titled Live that also was appreciated with more awards. With her success and talent only growing, Erykah Badu continued to create music that put her at the top of the charts with at least 3 more studio albums. Even though Badu is now fifty years old and has accomplished so much inside and outside of the music industry, she says that she is not done and has big plans.
Contemporaries, Influences, and Social Involvement:
In 1997, Ms. Badu founded an organization which she named “Beautiful Love Incorporated Nonprofit Development”, or “B.L.I.N.D. for short. The purpose of this organization was to bring art and culture to areas in hope that it would motivate inner-city areas to be better. Then in 2003 she also turned the Black Forest Theater into a place that could host charity events and also become the headquarters of B.L.I.N.D.
- D’Angelo “Your Precious Love”
- The Roots “You Got Me”
- Angie Stone, Queen Latifa, and Bahamadia “Love of My Life Worldwide”
- Badu and her mother were influenced by Chaka Khan
- 1998: Best R&B album (Baduizm)
- 1998: Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (On & On)
- 2000: Best Rap Performance (You Got Me)
- 2003: Best R&B Song (Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop))
- 2008: Video Music Award for Best Direction (Honey)
- 2013: Video Music Award for Best Art Direction (Q.U.E.E.N.)
- 1998: Image Award for Outstanding New Artist
- 1998: Outstanding Female Artist
- 2014: Image Award for Outstanding Music Video (Q.U.E.E.N.)
Soul Train Music Award:
- 2013: Video of the Year (Q.U.E.E.N.)
- 1998: Best R&B/Soul Album (Baduizm)
- 1998: Best Album of the Year (Baduizm)
- 1998: Best New Artist
- 1998: Best R&B/Soul Single (On & On)
- 2018: Legend Award
American Music Award:
- 1998: Favorite Soul/R&B New Artist
- 2003: Video of the Year (Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop))
- 2008: Video Director of the Year
Erykah Badu, from the moment she took the stage, has amazed the world with her sound and creativeness. She is an artist who was never afraid to be different, and in that made a name for herself in the music industry. Many people and artists are inspired by her work that she continues to prove to have no limit. Erykah Badu in so many ways has been appreciated, acknowledged, and the face of neo-soul and continues to inspire us with her work as she assures us that she is nowhere near done.