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Meet The Real “Ms. Jackson” Erykah Badu’s Mother Speaks On Andre 3000 + Stankonia, 15 Years Later

Meet The Real “Ms. Jackson” Erykah Badu’s Mother Speaks On Andre 3000 + Stankonia, 15 Years Later

Ms. Kolleen Maria Wright

Meet The Real "Ms. Jackson" Erykah Badu's Mother Speaks On Andre 3000 + Stankonia, 15 Years Later
Ms. Kolleen Maria Wright holding a young Erica Abi Wright AKA Erykah Badu (photo courtesy of Koryan Wright)

Kolleen Maria Wright: Okay, as a little girl–my first little girl–she was absolutely the cutest little green-eyed thing you’d ever want to see in your life. She was very, very precocious; always into something, always marched by the beat of a different drummer. Real funny. And we had a pretty good relationship, until it came to what we were going to wear and what we were going to eat…because we never agreed on anything. She had a mind of her own but super-super-super talented from day one. But I didn’t know whether it was talent then–I have to take that back. I wasn’t that smart. I didn’t know that it was talent. But I knew she was different. She was different but it was a good different, you know what I mean?

OKP: Yes, I do know what you mean. When did you first know it was talent?

KMW: When I heard her sing and somebody else agreed that it was good, when she was a little girl. All mama monkeys think that their baby monkeys–or baby giraffes or baby bears or whatever–they think that their babies can really sing or can really dance or can really whatever, y’know. But of course that’s your baby; you’re the mom. But then when other people agreed then I said, Okay…we are on to something.

OKP: Was she always this fearless? I feel like that’s a real personality trait that has come through in her art.

KMW: Oh yeah, definitely. She was always very for taking chances and even earlier on in school with her choice of clothing and hairstyles and all of that, they were very daring; very daring. She wore things and made things that I didn’t believe that she was going to do!

OKP: I imagine this powerful spirit of hers might have gotten her into trouble sometimes, when she was little…

KMW: Sometimes? (laughs) got into trouble, sometimes? All the time. It was always. Well, first of all, they went to private school. When I would go to visit, her desk was always right there next to the teacher’s desk. Pulled there as if she was the teacher. I mean right next to the teacher’s desk. I thought, Oh look at that! My baby is the teacher’s pet. She is the smartest girl in class. She is the teacher’s helper. She is the teacher’s best…but no. Hell, no. She was the class clown. She was the one that was disruptive and the poor woman had to keep her there so that she could keep control over her! She was a mess. Smart, bright–but a mess, yes. She was a class clown.

OKP: I love that story. I used to be a schoolteacher so I can relate to that. I remember the special students that I used to have next to my desk but they were always my geniuses too.

KMW: Right, but the ones you had to keep an eye, keep close to you.

OKP: Do you remember when she got her first boombox or turntable or microphone?

KMW: Well, first instrument of any kind, that would have been at her dad’s mother’s house–her “Ganny” as she refers to her all the time–Ganny bought them a piano. And they were banging out tunes and playing piano very well by ear and writing and composing music; their grandmother would call to let me hear what they were doing. They recorded a song called…what was the name of it? Some boyfriend song about love, “I love my boyfriend.” I love something..and the grandmother didn’t approve of that ‘cause she was a church lady. They had to change the lyrics to “I love Jesus.” That was one of the things that I most remember.

OKP: About how old was she when she did that?

KMW: They must have been about 7 to 9…no more than 10 (thinks) No, they hadn’t gotten to be 10 yet, just little girls.

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OKP: When you said “they” was that her and her sister, who else was there?

KMW: Yes, that’s was Koko (Koryan Wright AKA Nayrok) because Eevin I don’t think Eevin was born yet. That was she and Koko, she and her sister.

OKP: How many kids were there total?

KMW: Oh, God–just the three. She, Koko and Eevin. Yeah, that’s all I can handle.

OKP: …and Erykah is the oldest?

KMW: Yes, she is the first.

OKP: What songs did you sing to Erykah while you were pregnant with her, do you remember?

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