Decades: 1990s 2000s


Chonita Gilbert, 1970, Dallas, Texas, USA. N’Dambi made her name as a backing vocalist for fellow Dallas native Erykah Badu on her 1997 debut, Baduizm. N’Dambi grew up playing the piano and the clarinet, and started singing in her father’s Baptist church. She attended Southern Methodist University and graduated in 1994 with a degree in English. Shortly afterwards she adopted the west African name N’Dambi (meaning ‘most beautiful’), and recorded an unsuccessful demo tape. Gilbert was then introduced to Badu (at this point still going by her birth name of Erica Wright), and the two young singers became firm friends making a promise that whichever of them landed a recording contract first would use that position to help the other’s career. N’Dambi appeared on Baduizm and toured with Badu before recording her debut album, 1999’s Little Girl Lost Blues, which was self-produced and self-distributed on her Cheeky-i label. The...

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