Birth Date: February 11, 1979 / Age: 35
Birth Place: McComb, Mississippi, USA
Also Credited as: Brandy
Biography: Brandy Rayana Norwood (born February 11, 1979 in McComb, Mississippi), known professionally as Brandy, is an African-American pop/R&B singer and actress. She was raised in Carson, California.
Norwood's father was a pastor, and by the age of two, she was singing at his church. Brandy became a fan of Whitney Houston, and she told her father that she wanted to be a singer, like Houston. At the age of four, the Norwoods moved to California, where Brandy began her artistic career singing at talent shows in 1990. At 11, she met a record producer who took her to various record companies and led her to backup singing jobs with two groups: Norment and the more successful Immature.
When Brandy was 14, she was able to land a record deal with Atlantic Records, and in 1994 her first album, Brandy, was released, reaching gold status in less than two months, and quadruple platinum| status soon after. The album contained the popular singles "I Wanna Be Down," "Baby," "Best Friend," "Brokenhearted," and made her an MTV star throughout 1995 and into early 1996. To date, Brandy's debut album has sold in excess of 7 million copies worldwide.
Awards started to come soon after. In the fall of 1995 she attended the Billboard Music Awards taking home the awards for "Best New Artist, R&B," and "Best R&B Female". At the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards she eclipsed a category that comprised U2,Whitney Houston, and Seal to win the "Best Song From A Movie" award for "Sittin' Up In My Room". She was nominated for a 1996 "Best New Artist" Grammy and "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" Grammy Award, also for her smash hit "Baby"; in 1996, she won an NAACP Image Award for "Outstanding New Artist". Between 1995 and 1996, she won a total of seven Soul Train and Soul Train 'Lady of Soul' Music Awards, in the categories of "Best New Artist," "Best R&B/Soul Artist, Female," "Best R&B/Single, Solo," "Best R&B/Soul Song of The Year," "Best R&B/Soul New Artist," "Best R&B/Soul Album of The Year, Solo," and "Best New Artist of the Year". At the 2nd annual Lady of Soul Awards, Brandy was honored with the Aretha Franklin Award for Entertainer of the Year in 1996.
In 1996, she recorded a duet with Lenny Kravitz for the Batman Forever soundtrack, penned and produced by Kravitz after viewing one of her videos on MTV and proclaiming he "had to have her". The sensual torch song was never released due to its mature theme and content (at the time, Brandy was only 16). Also that year, an acoustic reading of her hit, "BrokenHearted" with Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men, stormed into the top 10 of the Billboard singles charts. Towards the end of that year, she contributed a song to the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack, which yielded "Sittin' Up in My Room," a smash hit single that inhabited the top of the Pop charts throughout early 1996.
Also in 1996, Brandy was taken to her prom by Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant.
Later in 1996, Brandy teamed up with Tamia, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight, for the single "Missing You," released from the Set It Off soundtrack. Even with the superstar lineup, it was Brandy's least successful single yet, but was still a moderate hit, and peaked in the top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart. The song won a Grammy nomination in the "Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals" category.
Never Say Never (1998)
Her second album, 1998's Never Say Never, was nominated for a Rhythm and Blues Award and a Grammy Award, both as Best Album Of The Year, and she co-hosted the American Music Awards, where she was nominated for Favorite Female Artist Of The Year in both their Rock & Pop and Soul categories. Brandy wrote and produced a great deal of the material on this album, executive producing the entire project as well. The album received a total of four Grammy nominations and won in the "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group" category. Never Say Never also marked the beginning of Brandy's successful collaboration with record producer Rodney Jerkins, whose work on Brandy records made him a star in his own right.
Brandy recorded a duet with Monica, "The Boy Is Mine" which became the first single from Never Say Never. Brandy co-wrote and produced the song, which wasn't originally intended as a duet, then asked Monica to re-record it with her. The duet was released in the spring, and by the summer had transformed into a cult hit. "The Boy Is Mine" was, by far, the biggest single of 1998, winning the "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group" award at the Grammys in 1999. "The Boy Is Mine," spent thirteen weeks atop the Hot 100 chart that summer and dominated several other Billboard charts in the US and around the world.
Amidst this phenomenal success, the album was also a number one smash on the Billboard album chart, eventually reaching multi-platinum sales of over 5 million copies in the US. It was nominated for a Rhythm and Blues Award and a Grammy Award, both as "Best Album Of The Year", in 1999. In the fall of 1998, Brandy co-hosted and performed at the American Music Awards, where she was nominated for "Favorite Female Artist Of The Year" in both their Rock & Pop and Soul categories.
The second single from Never Say Never was "Top Of The World", featuring rapper Ma$e. The video featured Brandy incurring various supernatural phenomena. She spontaneously floated in the air, flipping and somersaulting above random objects; telephone poles and vehicles, as people stopped to stare. These strange phenomena also included balancing herself vertically and horizontally alongside skyscrapers and buildings. The concept video, while not her most beautiful, carried quite a bit of symbolism related to her life as a pop culture celebrity and international icon. A remixed version of "Top Of The World," with Hispanic hip-hoppers Fat Joe & the late Big Pun, became an instant club classic.
The album's third single, "Have You Ever," was the first number one single of 1999 as it hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and dominated US radio airplay for a record three months. "Almost Doesn't Count" a guitar-laden acoustic ballad was the fourth single, accompanied by two different versions of another interesting video.
While the album still had potential for a number of additional single releases, "U Don't Know Me (Like U Used To)," was the last single from Never Say Never. Again, two versions of the song with corresponding music video clips were released. Both were minor hits late 1998 and through 1999. To date, Never Say Never has sold over 14 million copies worldwide.
In late 1999, as part of her campaign to help UNICEF, as their International Spokesperson for Youth, "One Voice" (a selection from the Never S-A-Y Never LP) was made the official song of the organization. During this time, her record company, Atlantic Records, issued a 9-track remix EP entitled "U Don't Know Me... Like U Used To".
For the next three years, Brandy completed the remaining three seasons of her sitcom Moesha and starred in a number of widely successful and critically acclaimed television specials and movies. She also landed a multitude of endorsement deals with CoverGirl cosmetics, which she represented for several years. Brandy was the subject of a major advertisement campaign for DKNY Jeans for three seasons, and modeled Candies shoes in an eye-catching ad campaign photographed by Dave LaChapelle.
After a lengthy hiatus that saw the end of her Moesha television series, and a flurry of tabloid headlines discussing her bout with "dehydration", the singer quietly married Rodney Jerkins' cousin, record producer Robert Smith, in the summer of 2001. The union did not make public acquaintance until February of 2002 as the singer was preparing for her impending album release. A four-part reality series surrounding the birth of their daughter, Sy'rai Iman Smith, aired on MTV in the summer of 2002. Shortly after the birth of their child, Brandy retreated from public life with Smith.
In 2001, Brandy and her brother, Ray J, were chosen to remake Phil Collins' 1980s hit "Another Day in Paradise" for Urban Renewal: A Tribute to Phil Collins. The song was released internationally and became an instant smash hit, topping the charts in the UK, Germany, and Australia.
Full Moon (2001)
Brandy's third album, Full Moon, was released in March of 2002, and spawned the hits "What About Us", produced by Rodney Jerkins, and "Full Moon," produced by Mike City. The "Full Moon" video disguised the fact that Brandy was now five months pregnant; the song's lyrics explained how Brandy felt when she first locked eyes with her husband Robert Smith at a party.
Full Moon sold over a million copies, a modest number of units for an artist of Brandy's caliber. Overseas, it faired much better, selling around 3.5 million copies outside of the United States. Still, the album was rather quietly and cautiously declared as a flop by the media. Brandy ignored the rumblings and settled further into wedded and maternal bliss with her new family. The more she retreated from public life, the more she was hounded by gossip hounds and paparazzi. Brandy entered the studio to record new material with Smith in December of 2002. However, the couple divorced in 2003.
Returning from yet another hiatus, Brandy's fourth album Brandy's Afrodisiac album was released on June 29, 2004, amidst both her weakest promotional blitz ever and the well-publicized termination of her short-lived business relationship with entertainment manager Benny Medina. Brandy ended her relationship with Medina's Los Angeles-based Handprint Entertainment after less than a year of representation.
Controversy surrounded Medina's handling of the lead single "Talk About Our Love", produced by Kanye West, a puzzling VIBE magazine cover in which the singer appeared prostrated with headlines: "What's Behind Brandy?," and failed talks of a purported co-headlining tour with R&B singer Usher Raymond that was instead handed to Kanye West, another Medina client, as an opening gig.
Despite the negative blitz, Afrodisiac became Brandy's most critically-acclaim album to date. Afrodisiac featured tracks primarily produced by producer Timbaland, in place of Jerkins or Smith, and Brandy worked with the producer to create a new sound. Both People and Rolling Stone rated the album four stars, with Rolling Stone comparing it to "Janet Jackson at her best..".
The album debut at number 3 on the Billboard Top 200 Album charts, and number 4 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Album charts. The singles, however, did not perform as well: "Talk About Our Love" peaked at #36 on the Billboard Top 100 charts and #16 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Single & Tracks charts, while the follow-up "Who Is She 2 U" never made it out of the lower half of the Billboard Hot 100. The title track "Afrodisiac", released overseas as a single, was a Top 20 hit in the United Kingdom. At the end of 2004, Brandy asked for and received a release from Atlantic Records and began shopping for a new record deal.
Brandy starred, for six seasons, in the popular television series Moesha in which she played the lead character, a young teen. In 1997, she played the title character in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s television version of Cinderella (see fan site (http://www.foreverbrandy.com)) featuring multi-cultural casting that also included Whitney Houston, Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg, and Bernadette Peters. The tele-film broke ratings records and garnered nine Emmy Award nominations.
Other roles include a television movie she co-produced and starred in with Diana Ross entitled Double Platinum; and a role in the franchise-flick I Still Know What You Did Last Summer where she portrayed the sassy Karla, best friend to Jennifer Love Hewitt's lead character. Brandy was said to be the considered lead in a Diana Ross biopic planned by the legendary singer. There has been no word on this project since 2001, however.
In 2004 Brandy was Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher's crew members.