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BRANDY Norwood

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Brandy (born Brandy Rayana Norwood on February 11, 1979) is an African American pop/R&B singer and actress. She is best known for her starring role in the UPN sitcom Moesha, and for hit records such as "Sittin' Up in My Room", "Have You Ever", and "The Boy is Mine".

 

Early career

Norwood was born in McComb, Mississippi and raised in Carson, California. Her father, Willie Ray Norwood, was a pastor and choir director, and by the age of two, she was singing at his church. Her mother, Sonja Bates, is a cousin of legendary blues singer Bo Diddley. 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 thirty-nine, 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.

Music career

Early career

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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. 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 honoured 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, a remix of her fourth single, "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, Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant took Brandy to his High School Prom.

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 "The Boy Is Mine" which became the first single from Never Say Never. Brandy co-wrote and produced the song; which 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, its also went on 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 that summer (selling over 2 million copies) and dominated several other Billboard charts in the US and around the world.

Amidst this phenomenal success, the album was also a 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, with a video directed by Paul Hunter. A remixed version of the song featuring Latin rappers Fat Joe and Big Pun was also successful.

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.

Interim

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.

In 2008, Mattel released a Brandy Doll.

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 become known 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 "divorced" Smith. The "marriage" itself was later exposed a hoax as the two were never legally married. It is speculated that the "marriage" was made up as attempt keep Brandy's "wholesome" image rather than be known as an out of wedlock mother.

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 (2002)

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 ... With "He Is" a third single was chosen from the album in fall 2002. The single had little to no response at radio.

Full Moon sold over a million copies in the US, and received lukewarm reviews. Rolling Stone Magazine rated the album two out of five stars, stating that, "... this interminable (seventeen-track) product is frantic, faceless, fake-sexy R&B." Still, the album was rather quietly and cautiously declared as a flop by the media. Brandy ignored the rumblings and settled further into motherhood. 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.

Afrodisiac (2004)

Returning from yet another hiatus, Brandy's fourth album Afrodisiac 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-acclaimed 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" became a moderate hit peaking 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" was a minor hit, never making 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.

Voice

She is known for her sultry, bold-yet-raspy alto. She has a singing range of 3.5 octaves.

Discography

Albums

According to Brandy, Atlantic Records and RIAA, Brandy has sold over 30 million albums and singles worldwide. During an interview with Vibe Magazine in 2005, Brandy stated that Never Say Never is her biggest selling album, selling over 14 million worldwide

  • Brandy (1994) #20 US (US Certification: 4.3x Platinum), 6 million worldwide
  • Never Say Never (1998) #2 US (US Certification: 5x Platinum), 14 million worldwide #19 UK
  • Full Moon (2002) #2 US (US Certification: Platinum), 3 million worldwide #9 UK
  • Afrodisiac (2004) #3 US (US Certification: Gold), 1.5 million worldwide #32 UK
  • The Best of Brandy (2005) #27 US, #24 UK

Singles

Year Title Chart Positions
US Hot 100 US R&B/Hip-Hop UK Singles
1994 I Wanna Be Down 6 1 44
1994 I Wanna Be Down (Remix)
(featuring Queen Latifah, Yo-Yo & MC Lyte)
- - 36
1995 Baby 4 1 -
1995 Brokenhearted
(featuring Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men)
9 2 -
1996 Best Friend 34 7 -
1996 Sittin Up In My Room 2 2 30
1997 Missing You
(featuring Tamia, Gladys Knight & Chaka Khan)
25 10 -
1998 The Boy Is Mine
 
1 1 2
1998 Top Of The World
(featuring Mase)
- - 2
1998 Have You Ever 1 2 13
1999 Angel In Disguise 72 17 -
1999 Almost Doesn't Count 16 16 15
1999 U Don't Know Me (Like U Used To) 79 25 -
1999 U Don't Know Me (Remix)
(featuring Shaunta & Da Brat)
- - -
2001 Another Day In Paradise
(with Ray-J)
- - 5
2002 What About Us? 7 3 4
2002 Full Moon 18 16 15
2003 He Is - 72 -
2004 Talk About Our Love
(featuring Kanye West)
36 18 6
2004 Afrodisiac - - 11
2004 Who Is She 2 U 85 43 50

Guest appearances

Album appearances

  • 1997: "Thank You" (with Ray-J; from Everything You Want)
  • 1999: "Rock With You" (Michael Jackson remake; from From Q With Love)
  • 2001: "Love Shared" (with Willie Norwood; from 'Bout It)
  • 2001: "Unbreakable" (back-up vocals; from Michael Jackson's Invincible)
  • 2002: "Formal Invite (Remix)" (with Ray-J & Shorty Mack; from CD Single)
  • 2004: "N 2 Da Music" (with Timbaland & Magoo; from Under Construction Part 2)
  • 2005: "Bring Me Down" (with Kanye West; from Late Registration)
  • 2005: "War Is Over" (with Ray-J; from Raydation)

Soundtrack appearances

  • Waiting to Exhale ("Sittin' Up in My Room"; 1995)
  • Batman Forever ("Where Are You Now?"; 1995)
  • Set It Off ("Missing You"; 1996)
  • Osmosis Jones ("Open"; 2001)
  • The Wild Thornberrys Movie ("Dance With Us" featuring P. Diddy and Bow Wow; 2003)

Acting career

Brandy starred from 1996 until 2001 in the popular television sitcom Moesha, in which she played the lead character, a teenager. (This was not her first TV role; she had previously appeared in the short-lived 1993-1994 sitcom Thea, starring Thea Vidale.) In 1997, she played the title character in Rodgers and Hammersteinís television version of Cinderella (see fan site) 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.

Brandy has also guest-starred in several television shows such as House and American Dreams.

Filmography

  • Arachnophobia (1990)
  • I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
  • Osmosis Jones (2001) (voice)

Television Work

  • Thea (1993-1994)
  • Moesha (1996-2001)
  • Cinderella (1997) (TV)
  • Double Platinum (1999) (TV)

Other information

In early 2004, she was Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher's crew members.

In late July 2004, New York Knicks guard Quentin Richardson (nicknamed "Q" and then a member of the Los Angeles Clippers) proposed to Brandy at a private reception in Los Angeles with friends and family, according to People magazine. The engagement ring Richardson presented to Norwood was reportedly worth US$1 million. However, before the proposal, controversy once again arose when former lover, music producer/songwriter Robert Smith, shocked radio listeners in an interview in New York when he revealed that he and Brandy did not legally get married in the summer of 2001 as reported. In the late 2005, it was reported that Brandy and Q broke up and she changed her tattoo of him into a cat. However, Brandy and Q have both denied these allegations. Brandy is living on the west coast working on her album and a new sitcom, while Q is a part of a New York basketball team, according to [Ray J] during a Sister to Sister interview in 2005.

Brandy has also been linked to Boyz II Men front man Wanya Morris, Kobe Bryant, porn star Jake Steed, and rapper-turned-preacher-turned-rapper Mase prior to the affair with Smith and the engagement to Richardson.

Early on in her career, Brandy styled her hair with a hot comb but after suffering severe 2nd degree burns and hair loss, she used braids initially to keep her styled while she recovered. Evidence to this can be seen by watching the sitcom Thea. In the beginning her hair is smooth, but later it's braided. It would soon become her signature style for years. At one point, her braids actually had to be redone longer and longer because her real hair was almost the same length.

Comments

I think brandy is a great singer and i really enjoy her music . I tink i watch Double platinum w/Dianna Ross about ten time just to hear her sing . Brandy is a wonderful person.

brandy is amazing i love her show moesha

I think brandy is a great singer and I ready enjoy her music . I think I watch Double Platinum  w/ Dianna Ross about ten time just to hear her sing . Brandy is a wonderful person .



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