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Since her debut album, Baduism, in 1997, Erykah Badu has shown us a new way of being. She taught us you don’t have to conform to industry standards of beauty; love can still exist where a romantic relationship no longer does; and you never have to stay within any one box.

Some of those very lessons from Bady were conveyed in the pages of ESSENCE. Over the years, the Texas-bred singer, songwriter, producer, and actress has covered five issues of the magazine, letting us into aspects of her life as a mother, a lover, an artist, and a muse. Bady has made statements with her fashion and her words, continuously encouraging women to tap into their spiritual side and be the version of themselves they were created to be.

As we celebrate one of our favorite Pisces’ 50th birthday today, here’s a look back at the beautiful Badu on the covers of ESSENCE.