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In her youth, she had decided to change the spelling of her first name from Erica to Erykah, as she believed her original name was a "slave name". She adopted the surname "Badu" because it is her favorite jazz scat sound; also, among the Akan people in Ghana, it is the term for the 10th-born child. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Badu went on to study theater at Grambling State University, a historically black university.
To concentrate on music full-time, she left the university in 1993 before graduating, and took on several minimum-wage jobs to support herself.
She was featured on the song "You Got Me", by The Roots and American female rapper Eve, co-written by Jill Scott, the song peaked at 39 in the US and 31 in the UK.
The song went on to win The Roots and Badu a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1999.
Badu had her first taste of show business at the age of four, singing and dancing at the Dallas Theater Center and The Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL) under the guidance of her Godmother, Gwen Hargrove, and uncle, and founder of TBAAL, Curtis King.
By the age of 14, Badu was free-styling for a local radio station alongside such talent as Roy Hargrove.
By 2000, Badu was in a romantic relationship with fellow Soulquarian Common.
The trek played to amphitheaters and arenas in the United States during the summer of 20.
He set Badu up to record a duet with D'Angelo, "Your Precious Love", and eventually signed her to a record deal with Universal Records.
Baduizm, Badu's debut album, was released in early 1997.
Reviewers found some of her lyrics hard to decipher on her initial releases.
Despite not charting as high as her first two albums, Mama's Gun was another platinum-selling success, and "Bag Lady" was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Influenced by R&B, 1970s soul, and 1980s hip hop, Early in her career, Badu was recognizable for her eccentric style, which often included wearing very large and colorful headwraps. As an actress, she has played a wide range of supporting roles in movies including Blues Brothers 2000, The Cider House Rules and House of D.