Grammy Award winning singer Erykah Badu was born Erica Abi Wright in Dallas, Texas, on February 26, 1971. Influenced by her mother, Erykah had her first taste of show business at the age of 4, singing and dancing with her mother at the Dallas Theatre Center. By the age of 14, Erykah was free-styling for a local radio station alongside such talent as Roy Hargrove. 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. Badu is her favorite jazz scat sound and is also an African name for the 10th born child used for the Akan people in Ghana.
Badu’s style is a prime illustration of Neo-Soul in that it focuses on the contemporary styles of the genres soul and hip hop and it sends out a deeper message as opposed to common R&B music. Her philosophy features ideologies from African influences, with fusions from the Nation of Islam and the Five Percent theologies, the complex views of the ancient Egyptians, and Southern African-American folk traditions. Badu has three children. Her eldest child is a son named Seven Sirius Benjamin, born in 1997, with André 3000. Their relationship inspired André 3000 to write the song Ms. Jackson. From 2000 to 2002, she dated rapper Common. On July 5, 2004, Badu gave birth to a daughter, Puma Sabti Curry, in her Dallas home; Puma’s father is West Coast rapper The D.O.C., who is originally from Dallas, Texas. On February 1, 2009, Badu gave birth to her third child at home, a girl named Mars Merkaba Thedford, with her boyfriend of five years, rapper Jay Electronica. In attendance were her two children, Puma and Seven.