Skip to main content
Select Source:

Brandy 1979–

Brandy 1979

Vocalist, actress

At a Glance

Sources

Brandy Norwood, televisions talented African-American teen idol, boasts a successful singing and acting resume that many an entertainment veteran could envy. With a flash of her broad, contagious smile, and a toss of her signature mane of glossy braids, the award-winning singer turned her focus to acting and captured a television audience as star of the UPN sitcom Moesha, causing Entertainment Weekly to note, Shes one of the few pop-music stars who can act even better than she can sing.

Brandys parents, Willie and Sonia Norwood, recognized stand-out talent in both their childrenBrandys younger brother Willie, Jr., called Ray-J, is also a singerand launched a non-stop business plan aimed at early careers in the entertainment industry. They moved the family from Mississippi to Los Angeles when Brandy was four and Ray-J was two, and started their vocal training in a church youth choir. My brother and I were always in the front as featured singers because our dad was the choir director, Brandy explained to Rolling Stone. Then I started being directress of younger choirs, and, well, I was just really hot in the church.

Church was Brandys first stage. Willie handles the kids musical grooming, while Sonia serves as business manager/chaperon. Brandy calls her Momager, and Sonia takes the job to heart. Mom must okay clothing, costume, diet, social, and career choices. She says, Tm going to be as big as Whitney [Houston], Sonia told TV Guide. Its our job to go out there and help get her there.

At age 11, Brandy won second place in a talent contest and was singing at local events; at 12, she earned a spot singing backup for an R&B group named Immature. In 1993, when she was 14, Brandy signed her first recording contract with Atlantic. Several months later she landed a role on the ABC sitcom Thea as 12-year-old Daneesha, daughter of the title character. The show didnt last long, which suited Brandy fine. Im always smiling and happy, she told People, Other people on the set werent. I was miserable. I couldnt wait for it to go off the air.

Brandy used the extra time to polish and launch her debut R&B album, simply titled Brandy. The recording was a wild success, rocketing to the top of musical charts with triple platinum sales, producing best-selling singles Baby and I Wanna Be Down, and two

At a Glance

Born Brandy Norwood, February 11, 1979, in McComb, MS; daughter of Willie (a choir director), and Sonia (Brandys manager) Norwood; married; husbands name, Robert Smith (a producer); one child. Education; Pepperdine University, bachelors degree.

Career: Co-starred on ABC sitcom Thea, 1993; recorded album multi-platinum debut album entitled Brandy, 1994; embarked on 13~city solo tour and spent two months opening for Boyz H Men; star of United Paramount Networks (UPN) sitcom Moesha, 1995-2001; contributed songs to Waiting To Exhale and Batman Forever soundtracks; sophomore album Never Say Never, 1998; appeared in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer; Osmosis Jones (voice only), 2001; third album Full Moon, 2002.

Awards: Grammy Award; American Music Award, favorite new artist, 1996.

Address: Record company Atlantic Recordings, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New york, NY 10104.

videos featured prominently on MTV. Jeremy Helliger in People remarked, Brandys well-groomed blend of gently lilting hip hop and pop-soul has a more timeless appeal. With the poise and sassy confidence of a diva twice her age, Brandy mixes her love songs with tributes to her little brother (Best Friend), God (Give Me You), the perfect man (Baby) and older crooners like Aretha and Whitney (T Dedicate). While this isnt groundbreaking stuff, Brandy has the pipes to become more than the latest teenage next-big-thing.

Brandy embarked on her first 13-city tour of U.S. high schools and a two-month stint as opening act for Boyz II Mens national tour. Her credits include songs on two major motion picture soundtracks, Sittin up in My Room from Waiting to Exhale, and Where Are You Now? from Batman Forever. Winning a Grammy award and being named Favorite New Artist at the 1996 American Music Awards legitimized her musical talent on a national level.

Brandy followed up with another high-profile career move. Nabbing the star role in the United Paramount Network (UPN) hit sitcom Moesha has elevated her status to prime time. The highly-rated comedy series focuses on the everyday life of the Mitchells, a middle class black family living in South-Central Los Angeles.

Brandy plays Moesha Mitchell, the bright, 16-year-old daughter who copes with the normal pressures and complications of teen life with the help of best friends and well-meaning family members. She has a mischievous little brother, hard-working car salesman father, and a new stepmother who teaches at her high school.

When Brandy initially read the script for the show, she was struck by the similarities between the lead character and herself. Brandy kind of matched Moesha, the actress explained to TV Guide. Her attitude is the same. Shes interested in boys, but something else comes firsther schoolwork, her family. She hangs out with her friends. Shes very nice. Clarifying her position about the show in Jet, Brandy said of her character, Shes responsible and listens to her dad. Her friends are wild, but she isnt. Most of the black shows on TV now are so unreal. Theres no moral. There is a moral on Moesha.

Moesha, deemed one of TVs most winning sitcomsand a fresh alternative to its tire competitors by Entertainment Weekly, is hailed by critics for the normalcy of the Mitchell familys life. Story lines deal with happy and sad moments, sibling rivalry, teen temptations, and parent pressures. For instance, the 1996-97 season introduced a street-smart rapper to the set as Brandys love interest. Brandy, afraid of her fathers reaction to her dating someone so different from his expectations for her, struggles with the issue of telling her father the truth. These types of proved to be important to Moeshas fan base. Show co-creator Ralph Farquhar commented in Jet, Teenagers are aspiring to be adults. Its interesting to see teenagers finding out who they are and how they interact with parents. But Farquhar was pleased that the show was not just a hit with teens. I get a lot of calls from parents saying Thank you. Finally a show I can sit down and watch with my children, Farquhar told Jet. We like to say stuff, but were not preachy about it.

Brandy led a large and talented cast. She relied on instinct, help from an acting coach, and advice from fellow performers for her new role. Her life was crowded with television rehearsals and tapings, schoolSonia insisted on three-hour tutoring sessions dailyand continued work time spent in the recording studio. The schedule left little time for dating or down time with peers. She still tried to fit in phone calls and trips to the mall with friendsalthough now she took a body guard along.

Brandy continued to spread her wings with her 1998 sophomore album Never Say Never. Many fans and critics were worried that the four years since her breakout first album as well as her budding acting career might severely impact the quality of her second album. Those fears were quickly put to rest as the first single, The Boy Is Mine, a duet with R&B singer Monica hit the top ten Billboards charts in the first few weeks of release and was one of the top selling R&B singles ever. But Brandys acting career refused to take a backseat to her singing career. Playing off of the success of the 1997 release of the live action remake of Cinderella for ABC and the long running sitcom Moesha, Brandy broke into films with a staring role in the 1998 move J Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Brandy told Entertainment Weekly that, The movie is going to shock people, but they need to realize I can play more than the teenager next door or the perfect Cinderella. I want people to say, Wow, she can really act, when asked why she chose a horror film as her first large screen endeavor. While I Still Know What You Did Last Summer did not break any box office records, it did further introduce Brandy and her multitude of skills to a new audience.

In 1999 Brandy returned to the small screen in two very dramatic fashions. The first was her performance on Divas Live 99, a tribute to past and present female singers, which included the likes of Whitney Houston and Tina Turner. Shortly after the airing of Divas Live 99, a made for television movie entitled Double Platinum aired on ABC to rave reviews. This time Brandy was working with the original diva of soul Diana Ross in a story about a singer who abandons her family for stardom. Once again, Brandy was happy to take on a different role then the one she still kept up on Moesha, for Double Platinum allowed her to explore the range of her acting abilities and character moods.

Brandy used the years of 1999 and 2000 to continue working on Moesha as well as her studies at Pepper-dine University, Malibu campus, attempting to earn a degree with an emphasis on entertainment law. But this breakneck pace soon took a toll on the young star. She had what she explained to Oprah Winfrey, quoted in Jet, an emotional, physical and spiritual breakdown. She was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for a two-day hospital stay. Brandy stated on Winfreys show that she had not been taking care of herself and was under a lot of pressure both professionally and personally. Then, as Moesha came to the end of its sixth season in the summer of 2001, UPN decided to cancel the long-running show. She used the free time learning about herself, changing bad habits, and finding love.

In a secret ceremony during the summer of 2001, Brandy married music producer Robert Smith. At the same time, she was working on her third album, Full Moon, and touring the country to promote herself. In early 2002, Brandy revealed to the public not only her marriage to Smith, but also the fact that she was pregnant. Full Moon hit stores in spring of 2002, again to rave reviews. Her career, however, will take a back seat to her role as mother to her daughter, Syrai, born in June of 2002.

Fame and fortune has not made Brandy sidestep family influence or forget her religious roots. She still counts on her parents and her husband for reality checks and her faith for stability. I think its because of God that I am where I am today, she told Jet. And I thinks hes the cause of all of us being here. I dont ever want to forget about him.

Sources

Books

Whos Who Among African Americans, 14th Edition, Gale Group, 2001.

Periodicals

Billboard, June 20, 1998, p. 28.

Entertainment Weekly, November 8, 1996, p. 56;November 13, 1998, p. 28-30.

Jet, February 26, 1996, pp. 59-61; November 25, 1996, pp. 56-59; May 3, 1999, p. 58; June 4, 2001, p. 34.

Newsweek, March 25, 1996, p. 69.

New York Times, April 2, 1995, (Section 2) p. 43.

People, October 24, 1994, p. 20; November 21, 1994, p. 99; July 31, 1995, p. 23; May 6, 1996, p. 140; March 11, 2002, p. 152.

Rolling Stone, April 6, 1995, p. 32.

Seventeen, April 1995, pp. 158-161.

Time, May 17, 1999, pp. 84-86.

TV Guide, April 6, 1996, pp. 30-32.

USA Today, July 26, 1996, p. 2D.

On-line

VH1 Online, www.vhl.com

Sharon Rose and Ralph Zerbonia

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Brandy 1979–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Brandy 1979–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/brandy-1979-0

"Brandy 1979–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/brandy-1979-0

Brandy 1979–

Brandy 1979

Singer, actress

At a Glance

Sources

Brandy Norwood, televisions talented African American teen idol, boasts a successful singing and acting resume that many an entertainment veteran could envy. With a flash of her broad, contagious smile, and a toss of her signature mane of glossy braids, the award-winning singer turned her focus to acting and captured a television audience as star of the UPN sitcom Moe- sha, causing Entertainment Weekly to note, Shes one of the few pop-music stars who can act even better than she can sing.

Brandys parents, Willie and Sonia Norwood, recognized stand-out talent in both their children-Brandys younger brother Willie, Jr., called Ray-J, is also a singer-and launched a non-stop business plan aimed at early careers in the entertainment industry. They moved the family from Mississippi to Los Angeles when Brandy was four Ray-J was two, and started their vocal training in a church youth choir. My brother and I were always in the front as featured singers because our dad was the choir director, Brandy explained to Rolling Stone. Then I started being directress of younger choirs, and, well, I was just really hot in the church.

Church was Brandys first stage. Willie handles the kids musical grooming, while Sonia serves as business manager/chaperon. Brandy calls her Momager, and Sonia takes the job to heart. Mom must okay clothing, costume, diet, social, and career choices. She says, Tm going to be as big as Whitney [Houston], Sonia told TV Guide. Its our job to go out there and help get her there.

At age 11, Brandy won second place in a talent contest and was singing at local events; at 12, she earned a spot singing backup for an R&B group named Immature. In 1993, when she was 14, Brandy signed her first recording contract with Atlantic. Several months later she landed a role on the ABC sitcom Thea as 12-year-old Daneesha, daughter of the title character. The show didnt last long, which suited Brandy fine. Im always smiling and happy, she told People, Other people on the set werent. I was miserable. I couldnt wait for it to go off the air.

Brandy used the extra time to polish and launch her debut R&B album, simply titled Brandy. The recording was a wild success, rocketing to the top of musical charts with triple platinum sales, producing best-selling singles

At a Glance

Born Brandy Norwood, February 11, 1979, in Mc Gomb, MS; daughter of Willie (a choir director), and Sonia (Brandys manager) Norwood; one brother, Willie, Jr. Education: Enrolled at Pepperdine University, Malibu, California campus.

Co-starred on ABC sitcom Thea, 1993; recorded album triple platinum debut album entitled Brandy, 1994; embarked on 13-city solo tour and spent two months openning for Boyz II Men; star of United Paramount Networks (UPN) sitcom Moesha, 1995-; contributed songs to Waiting to Exhale and Batman Forever soundtracks.

Awards: Grammy Award; American Music Award, favorite new artist, 1996.

Addresses: Home-Los Angeles, CA.

Baby and I Wanna Be Down, and two videos featured prominently on MTV. Jeremy Helliger in People remarked, Brandys well-groomed blend of gently lilting hip hop and pop-soul has a more timeless appeal. With the poise and sassy confidence of a diva twice her age, Brandy mixes her love songs with tributes to her little brother (Best Friend), God (Give Me You), the perfect man (Baby) and older crooners like Aretha and Whitney (I Dedicate). While this isnt groundbreaking stuff, Brandy has the pipes to become more than the latest teenage next-big-thing.

Brandy embarked on her first 13-city tour of U.S. high schools and a two-month stint as opening act for Boyz II Mens national tour. Her credits include songs on two major motion picture soundtracks, Sittin up in My Room from Waiting to Exhale, and Where Are You Now? from Batman Forever. Winning a Grammy award and being named Favorite New Artist at the 1996 American Music Awards legitimized her musical talent on a national level.

Brandy followed up with another high-profile career move. Nabbing the star role in the United Paramount Network (UPN) hit sitcom Moesha has elevated her status to prime time. The highly-rated comedy series focuses on the everyday life of the Mitchells, a middle class black family living in south-central Los Angeles. Brandy plays Moesha Mitchell, the bright, 16-year-old daughter who copes with the normal pressures and complications of teen life with the help of best friends and well-meaning family members. She has a mischievous little brother, hard-working car salesman father, and a new stepmother who teaches at her high school.

When Brandy initially read the script for the show, she was struck by the similarities between the lead character and herself. Brandy kind of matched Moesha, the actress explained to TV Guide. Her attitude is the same. Shes interested in boys, but something else comes first-her schoolwork, her family. She hangs out with her friends. Shes very nice. Clarifying her position about the show in Jet, Brandy said of her character, Shes responsible and listens to her dad. Her friends are wild, but she isnt. Most of the black shows on TV now are so unreal. Theres no moral. There is a moral on Moesha.

Moesha, deemed one of TVs most winning sitcoms-and a fresh alternative to its tire competitors by Entertainment Weekly, is hailed by critics for the normalcy of the Mitchell familys life. Story lines deal with happy and sad moments, sibling rivalry, teen temptations, and parent pressures. For instance, the 1996-97 season introduced a street-smart rapper to the set as Brandys love interest. Brandy, afraid of her fathers reaction to her dating someone so different from his expectations for her, struggles with the issue of telling her father the truth. These types of issues are proving to be important to Moeshas fan base. Show co-creator Ralph Farquhar commented in Jet, Teenagers are aspiring to be adults. Its interesting to see teenagers finding out who they are and how they interact with parents. But Farquhar is pleased that the show is not just a hit with teens. I get a lot of calls from parents saying Thank you. Finally a show I can sit down and watch with my children, Farquhar told Jet. We like to say stuff, but were not preachy about it.

Brandy leads a large and talented cast. For the time being, she relies on instinct, help from an acting coach, and advice from fellow performers for her new role. Her life is crowded with television rehearsals and tapings, school-Sonia insists on three-hour tutoring sessions daily~and continued work time spent in the recording studio. The schedule leaves little time for dating or down time with peers. She still tries to fit in phone calls and trips to the mall with friends-although now she takes a body guard along.

Brandy celebrated her 17th birthday with a glitzy party at Planet Hollywood in Beverly Hills, but admits she still has a 12:30 a.m. curfew. Her cover girl look requires daily exercise, vitamins, and healthy foods (she loves McDonalds fries, but is learning to control the craving). Brandys pleased with herself as a role model for young girls. Im proud that little girls look up to me, she told Jet. Not to be boastful but I think Im a pretty good girl to look up to. The hundreds of girls who hope to copy her hairdo should know that its not a do-it-yourself type hair style. A profession stylist spends eight hours braiding Brandys hair every two or three weeks.

Brandy is not finished spreading her wings. Brandys first love is still music, and she considers herself more a singer than actress. In fact, she sings the Moesha s theme song, though Moesha, the character, does not sing on the program. Future plans include a second album for which she hopes to help write songs and contribute to production. A four-day television work week leaves little time for school, but Brandy earned a high school diploma with independent studies and tutoring. She continues her studies at Pepperdine University, Malibu campus, and hopes to earn a degree with an emphasis on entertainment law.

Fame and fortune has not made Brandy sidestep family influence or forget her religious roots. She still counts on her parents for reality checks and her faith for stability. I think its because of God that I am where I am today, she told Jet. And I thinks hes the cause of all of us being here. I dont ever want to forget about him.

Sources

Jet, February 26, 1996, pp. 59-61; November 25, 1996, pp. 56-59.

Entertainment Weekly, November 8, 1996, p. 56.

Newsweek, March 25, 1996, p. 69.

New York Times, April 2, 1995, (Section 2) p. 43.

People, October 24, 1994, p. 20; November 21, 1994, p. 99; July 31, 1995, p. 23; May 6, 1996, p. 140.

Rolling Stone, April 6, 1995, p. 32.

Seventeen, April 1995, pp. 158-161.

TV Guide, April 6, 1996, pp. 30-32.

USA Today, July 26, 1996, p. 2D.

Sharon Rose

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Brandy 1979–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Brandy 1979–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/brandy-1979

"Brandy 1979–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/brandy-1979