American singer-songwriter, record producer and actress
Erica Abi Wright (born February 26, 1971), known professionally as Erykah Badu, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer and actress. Influenced by R&B, 1970s soul, and 1980s hip hop, Badu became associated with the neo soul subgenre in the 1990s and 2000s along with artists such as D'Angelo and Maxwell. She has been called the “Queen of Neo Soul”. Badu's career began after she opened a show for D'Angelo in 1994 in Fort Worth; record label executive Kedar Massenburg was highly impressed with her performance and signed her to Kedar Entertainment. Her first album, Baduizm, was released in February 1997. It spawned four singles: "On & On", "Appletree", "Next Lifetime" and "Otherside of the Game". The album was certified triple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Her first live album, Live, was released in November 1997 and was certified double Platinum by the RIAA.
Her second studio album, Mama's Gun, was released in 2000. It spawned three singles: "Bag Lady", which became her first top 10 single on the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at #6, "Didn't Cha Know?" and "Cleva". The album was certified Platinum by the RIAA. Badu's third album, Worldwide Underground, was released in 2003. It generated three singles: "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)", "Danger" and "Back in the Day (Puff)" with 'Love' becoming her second song to reach the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #9. The album was certified Gold by the RIAA. Badu's fourth album, New Amerykah Part One, was released in 2008. It spawned two singles: "Honey" and "Soldier". New Amerykah Part Two was released in 2010 and fared well both critically and commercially. It contained the album's lead single "Window Seat", which led to controversy.
Badu's voice has been compared to jazz singer Billie Holiday. Early in her career, Badu was recognizable for her eccentric style, which often included wearing very large and colorful headwraps. She was a core member of the Soulquarians. As an actress, she has played a number of supporting roles in movies including Blues Brothers 2000, The Cider House Rules and House of D. She also has appeared in the documentaries Before the Music Dies and The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975.
My work as a doula also extends all the way to the end of life. I sit at the bedsides of people who are passing on in hospices or nursing homes, for the people and families who want that kind of thing.
I planned my success. I knew it was going to happen.
I really can't say what inspires me the most, because I'm inspired by just about everything. My feelings and relationships, my family, Scooby-Doo. Opinion of my work. Everything. Not just one thing.
My fifth mother is Mother Nature - the things I had to learn on my own, the understanding I had to come to and still have to come to as a young woman, as a responsible mother, a responsible granddaughter and child. She teaches me willpower, honesty, and the things we need to heal ourselves from moment to moment.
Being honest is my job. That's what music is for me.
I'm just being who I am and expressing myself as everyone else does.
I'd rather see a person with a natural mind and processed mind than a processed mind and a natural head.
My paternal grandmother gave me the courage to investigate things and not take things at face value or judge people by what I first imagine them to be.
Hopefully my music is medicine, some type of antidote for something or some kind of explanation or just to feel good.
My eyes are green, Cause I eat a lot of vegetables, It don't have nothing to do with your new friend
From then on, I realized this is what I want to do, what I'm supposed to do: Giving energy and receiving it back through applause. I love it. That's my world. I love it. I enjoy it. I live for it.
When it comes to fashion or any high art, you have to have a combination of delicacy, along with taste.
I don't know why, it's just what I feel inside, the thoughts that I sing about. It's just my truth. Sometimes my emotions can be mistaken for messages.
I think the job of an artist is to be honest and fearless.
Poor is the new black.
Because you're responsible for [children]. You are there to protect them, not possess them. I tell them, "Watch me and you might learn something."
As Erykah Badu, it has nothing to do with me, the way I look, my hair wrap, my style, it's about you and what you feel for my music. If I can make you feel like the way that people who influenced me made me feel, that's completion.
Artists need some kind of stimulating experience a lot of times, which crystallizes when you sing about it or paint it or sculpt it. You literally mold the experience the way you want. It's therapy.
I think [ fashion philosophy] it's about your smile and your smell.
What singing means to me, I never did consider myself a singer, I just let people watch me feel music and how it comes through me. I've worked on it and practiced a lot. I mean, music, I dance to it, and singing is just one way of getting it out of me.
Marvin Gaye is one of my favorite revolutionaries. He spoke from his heart, his mind. That's what I want to do.
The reason why you don't see people looking like me is because I don't encourage that. I encourage you to be you.
I come from a long line of matriarchal women, and my greatest teachers were my mothers.
Im a hip-hopper, and its something you live and do. It makes me angry that were misrepresented, that were being killed every day by one another, by the government, by the food we eat, the choices we make. It makes me angry because it doesnt have to be that way and it is.
He definitely does what a partner is supposed to do, that is, evolve you.
I believed in myself, and I've always worked very, very hard as an artist, and I am an artist in every sense of the word.
I got a call from a mutual friend of ours, Charles King, who's also the executive producer. [Steven Caple Jr and I] had a conversation about it. I read it. We kind of finished each other's sentences when it came to the nuances and personality flaws that the character had, and some stereotypes and things we were trying to stay away from. We agreed on that as well. He just kind of allowed me to run rampant with the ideas. As we paced ourselves through, we developed Turquoise.
I love watching Rihanna in fashion. I like to see her take chances and risks. I like seeing Naomi Campbell in the forefront. They're both women who stand out and use their bodies as canvases to introduce this functional art to the world. They carry it in a way that is very inspiring.
I'm a Pisces, so I'm a very closed-book kind of person.
[The Land] is a film that just happens to be directed and written by a Puerto Rican guy with a black dad. It seemed like a very natural, human interaction between people who all just came from one common cesspool of bad luck.
Hip-hop is not something we do, it's something we live. It's the way we dress, the way we talk... everybody bobbing to the same beat. It's a culture, and you have to find your own place in that culture. Top 10 or Top 40 can't dictate that. They can only dictate what's marketable.
I don't know... I've been doing it for 17 years now, so of course I've seen pictures and thought, "Oh my god, I wish I would've never worn that." Yeah, but I did! And it was probably because it was my favorite thing at the time - my clothes always have some kind of emotion attached to them.
I grew up listening to old soul
I try to be honest and I keep moving.
I don't have one song that sounds like another one in my entire catalog.
The kind of music or the kind of arrangements that I do, the kind of musicians I choose, is just what I like to hear.
My second mother is my maternal grandmother. Her name is Thelma. She also gave me a very powerful medicine; she made sure that I knew my role as a young lady and as someone with moral structures and principles. She taught me that if I was going to be involved with anything, whether it be spirituality, music, or some skill, that I have to practice.
We were all born, and we all came to the music business with everything we had. Some of us just don't get a chance. Now there's a lot of other people like myself, indeed, who are getting heard worldwide. That gives other artists a chance.
When you're in a relationship you want it to work. My parents did, I did. But we are not taught how to make it work.
I had the opportunity, as a child, to grow up in a community center where I was exposed to theater, music, art, and computer science; things that I would have never had the opportunity to even meet had it not been for those people taking time out of their schedules, helping us as children to travel all over the world while sitting in a gymnasium. That's what I did before I was a musician, before I was a recording artist, I was a teacher and a community leader.
I love being an entertainer - not really fond of being a celebrity.
I can be Erykah the human being more than the celebrity.
I mean thats a big part of our existence here on earth, the personal relationship we have with the person that we love, with the person that we make love to, with the person that we share our lives with. We expect a lot of things back from our loved one, and the lesson is to accept and not expect.
Some people come up and ask for an autograph and don't even look at me. They're like, 'Here, do it.' That don't bother me, but it doesn't open my heart.
Hip-hop was created out of necessity. We needed to create some digitized things to help us understand what we were feeling.
The music business is motivated by money. Music is motivated by energy and feelings.
I am not systematic at all when it comes to religion. I just love life. And I'm not judgmental. And I'm a vegetarian.
I don't plan how many people I work with. I don't charge anything. It's for my own learning, and I just enjoy being the welcoming committee. I became a doula by default.
I consider my musical ability to be a gift from the Creator. It's not that I try to work hard or nothing like that, it's a gift, it was given to me, and I appreciate it.
My fourth mother, my godmother, she passed away a couple years ago - her name was Gwen. She was the theater director over at the gym where I grew up and learned about all those awesome things I told you about already. She was the one who taught me terms like "upstage" and "downstage," all those technical things about the art of what I do - how to breathe what I see, how to move. They were all her tactics, not anything learned or given to me through a theory, but rather by her natural abilities.
Breathing becomes really easy when you're laughing. It kick starts that feeling of joy.
I'm learning from them! Everyone says that, but it's true. You learn more about yourself from them than from any other lesson.
...When it come to da: " What it do?! I don't fall for da: "Woop- TeE- WoOoo!
I take the same approach in all genres of art, across the board. It's intuitive.
I thought the Billie Holiday comparison was beautiful. I think, Wow, what a wonderful, creative, helpful spirit. She's someone who wanted to help others by sharing her emotion. That's what I do, too, so I think that's a great comparison.
No one chooses to raise children alone.
I'm pretty mutable as a human being.
I have a master plan as an artist. I've always said I'm not going to be punching nobody's clock. I will work as an artist to survive in this world.
I trust the political system to be what it is. It's a structure to keep the country running, a boat to get us [citizens] from one side to the other, and it has the country's best interests at heart. Not the people's.
I don't read music or anything, so when I produce, I go basically by ear.
Hip-Hop is bigger than the government.
I was the bohemian in my family, the "this is my favorite shoe and I don't care if it has tape around it" kind of person. The tape could become a fashion statement. Or a political statement.
During childbirth and hospice I'll sing gospel songs that my grandma taught me when I was younger, or something I've made up, or I'll hum. I just play things that I think the audience will like.
Whenever I think about funk music, it has a look - and that's how it sounds.
I'm not trying to win an award for being the best vegetarian, just want to be healthy. Take a salt bath. Do things that my parents were never able to do. I'm blessed to do anything I want so I decide to take the best care of my body and my family in the same way. Holistically. Vitally.
I don't think it matters what school you go to, but I think it's important for parents to be involved. And to know that when school stops, learning continues, and to continue teaching at home.
Music and the music business are two different things.
We mainly focus on putting music, art, dance, theater, all forms of art, back into the community, so the community can put it into the world.
All I want to do is give the world my heart... Record label tryina make me compromise my art.
I go through phases of stuff.
I have a Pinterest, and if you look there you'll see the things I really like and adore, have crushes on, and there's a lot of stuff from Riccardo's [Tisci] line on there.
I have the ability to sing with emotion and feeling, but if you say I sound like Billie Holiday, that's cool. Let's look at who Billie was: she was this person, this singer, this beautiful diva who could move the audience with the slightest gesture of her hand.
I started performing at two or three on a tape recorder, one of those little flat recorders where you just push play and record.
When people are going on to the next plateau of whatever this thing is called life, I also want them to breathe easily, even if it's the last one they take here with us. I guess I'm the welcoming committee and ushering committee.
A home birth is about being able to create exactly what you want, because it's such a violent moment inside of the body that you want everything else to be as beautiful as it can be.