Erykah Badu was born Erica Wright in Dallas, Texas, in 1972. By the age of 14, Erykah was free-styling for a local radio station alongside such talent as Roy Hargrove, who, incidentally, was a talented beat-boxer back in the 80's and who is now a very successful session musician in his own right. In her early youth, she decided to change the spelling of her name from Erica to Erykah, as she firmly believed her original name to be her 'slave' name. The term 'kah' signifies the inner self, which, when translated from Muslim, means 'can do no wrong'.
Her surname, Badu, derives from an Arabic word which means 'to manifest truth and light'. After completing her theatre studies at university in 1993, Erykah Badu decided to concentrate on her music. She began to teach children how to sing and dance, whilst also performing in a hip-hop act with her cousin entitled Erykah Free.
The following year Erykah met Tim Grace, of Legacy Entertainment. He listened to a demo once and decided to sign the young hip-hop duo without further hesitation. He then successfully managed to book Erykah Free to open for such established hip-hop crews as A Tribe Called Quest and Arrested Development.
Erykah began recording the Baduizm set in 1996 and worked with such talented producers as ?love and Richard Nichols of The Roots, James Poyser and N'dambi. February of 1997 couldn't possibly have been a bigger year for Erykah. Her debut album was released and it achieved platinum status in under a month; her live shows received continual praise and her popularity increased dramatically. Erykah Badu had finally arrived on the big stage.
Erykah Badu inevitably drew close comparisons to the legendary Billie Holiday. The formers blend of old soul, jazz and hip-hop, fused with a hypnotic flow is capable of stirring the deepest emotions, and Erykah's place amongst today's elite female soul artists of the world is already well and truly assured.