Santigold was born on September 25, 1976 in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania .   She is of African American descent. She attended Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, and later attended college at Wesleyan University , where she double-majored in music and African-American studies . White is married to Trevor Andrew, with whom she has a son named Radek, born in 2014.
She obtained her pseudonym in the 1990s after a friend gave it to her as a nickname.  She worked for Epic Records as an A&R representative but left the position to co-write and executive produce How I Do , the singer Res 's debut album. 
She was the singer of Philadelphia-based punk rock band Stiffed , which released the albums Sex Sells (2003) and Burned Again (2005): Both were produced by Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer .  While in the band, White was offered a solo contract by Martin Heath of London -based independent label Lizard King Records .