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5 Things You Might Not Know About Erykah Badu

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Ever since the release of her chart-topping, critically beloved debut record, Baduizm, in 1997, Erykah Badu has been a force to reckon with. The intervening years have seen her win four Grammy Awards, release four more studio albums, become a doula, give an incredible Tiny Desk Concert, and—most recently—emerge as something of a fashion plate, striding the cobblestone runway at Vogue World: New York and ascending the Met Gala red carpet in Thom Browne and Marni. And yet, all the while, Badu has maintained an air of almost magical mystery about her; a not-quite-of-this-world-ness, despite being born and bred in Texas. So, in honor of her gloriously sunlit March Vogue cover, we’re breaking down five things you might not know about the soul icon. 

Her stage name has ancient (and musical) origins

A Dallas native, Erykah Badu was born Erica Abi Wright on February 26, 1971. The “kah” in her stage name refers to an ancient Egyptian term for one’s soul or “inner self,” while “ba-du” is her favorite jazz-scat sound.

Her most indelible hit was created live on stage

Before it became an actual song, “Tyrone,” Badu’s infectious (and hilarious) 1997 break-up anthem, was a riff that Badu’s band just played for fun. “When we would be in rehearsal, we would do this one groove, which was ‘Tyrone,’ the music, but I would sing different funny things over it,” Badu told Mark Ronson on The Fader Uncovered podcast in 2021. “So I was onstage, and my keyboard player, Norman Keys Hurts, starts playing the melody from rehearsal, and I was like, ‘Okay,’ and ‘Call Tyrone’ was born on that stage.”

As a doula, she’s worked with both celebrity friends and perfect strangers

Since coaching a friend through her 52-hour labor some 20 years ago, Badu has become a trusted doula and certified midwife to many, including model Slick Woods and singers Summer Walker and Teyana Taylor. Yet you needn’t have a famous name to seek her help: According to writer Kate Branch (another satisfied client), Badu has also worked with “relatives, and even a woman she met in Whole Foods once.”

She’s at the center of a sprawling blended family

Badu herself has had three children: son Seven Sirius Benjamin, with André 3000 of OutKast (whose song “Ms. Jackson” was inspired by Badu and her mother); daughter Puma Sabti Curry, with rapper the D.O.C.; and Mars Merkaba Thedford, with rapper Jay Electronica. Although she has never married, she remains close with all three men. “I’m nowhere near a single mom,” she told The New Yorker in 2016. “I mean, I am, but the fathers are always here.” 

She’s breaking into the cannabis game

In December, Badu announced a special collaboration with rapper Berner: a new weed strain (called “That Badu,” naturally) and a psilocybin mushroom tea set. While she has described the former as having a subtle lemon smell, the latter is “really for your evenings or meditations or vision quests or evenings when you have an opportunity to commune with your mind.” Honestly…sounds good!


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