Brandy (entertainer) (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Brandy Rayana Norwood (born February 11 1979), known professionally as Brandy, is an American actress and R&B and pop singer, songwriter, and record producer. Discovered by Atlantic Records when she was a member of a youth singing group, she released her self-titled debut album in 1994 at the age of fifteen. Following a major success with "The Boy Is Mine," a duet with singer Monica for which she won a Grammy Award, and her second album Never Say Never in 1998, a series of hit records established her position as one of the most successful of the new breed of urban R&B female vocalists to emerge in the mid-to late 1990s.
While maintaining a recording career Norwood also gained fame for starring in several film and television productions, including popular UPN sitcom Moesha (1996-2001), a 1997 version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella and a supporting role in the 1998 horror sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer among others.
Norwood has sold over fourteen million albums worldwide. The RIAA ranks her as one of the best-selling female artist in American music history having sold 10.5 million albums.
Brandy is the elder of two siblings born to Willie Norwood, a former R&B singer and choir director, and his wife Sonja Bates-Norwood, a former district manager for H&R Block, in McComb, Mississippi. She is the sister of singer and actor William Raymond "Ray J" Norwood Jr, and a cousin of blues singer Bo Diddley, and rapper Snoop Dogg.
Through her father's work Brandy started singing at their minister, Curtis W. McCullom's Brookhaven church at an early age of two. By the time she was four, Norwood's parents moved the family from McComb to Carson, California, in hopes of jump-starting careers for their children. Inspired by a spontaneous onstange performance with Diddley and Little Richard in the Los Angeles Forum at the age of six, Brandy began performing at many West Coast functions as part of a youth singing group and then, at 11, barely a teenager herself, met manager Earl Harris and Chris Stokes who landed her gigs as a backup singer for the group called Norment and more successful teen R&B trio Immature. In 1993, while shopping around record companies, seeking a record deal, Norwood attended a party held by the Atlantic Recording Corporation. After performing in front of hundreds of people, an executive indicated interest in her persona and eventually offered Brandy a recording contract with Atlantic Records.
1994-1997: Early commercial success
After months of recording, including sessions with producers Daryl Williams, and Keith Crouch, Brandy's self-titled debut album was released on September 27, 1994. While the album debuted at a moderate number 20 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart only, Brandy soon became a quadruple platinum success thanks to heavy rotation on music channels MTV and BET and the singles "I Wanna Be Down" and "Baby" which both entered the top 10 of the official Hot 100 and became number-one hits on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Although the album's success was limited elsewhere, it produced another two top 10 hits and made Brandy one of the most successful new artists of the year.
Subsequently the album earned Norwood two Grammy Award nominations for "Best New Artist" and "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" (for her single "Baby"), four Soul Train Music Awards, two Billboard Awards, and the New York Children's Choice Award. Brandy continued to soar in 1995, teaming up with Lenny Kravitz for the Batman Forever soundtrack and scoring another hit with her number-two single, "Sittin' up in My Room" from the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack.
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 at number 25 on the pop chart. The song won Norwood her third Grammy nomination in the "Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals" category.
1998-2001: Worldwide popularity
Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins consulted on the album Never Say Never, which was released on June 9, 1998 and became Brandy's most successful album worldwide. Norwood co-wrote and produced six songs on the album which yielded her first number-one song on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, "The Boy Is Mine", a duet with singer Monica. The song rose to one of the most successful records of the year, staying on top of the Billboard Hot 100 for thirteen weeks, and eventually garnered the pair a Grammy Award for "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal". Critics rated Never Say Never highly, with All Music Guide's Stephen Thomas Erlewine praising Brandy and her team for wisely finding "a middle ground between Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige " it's adult contemporary with a slight streetwise edge". Altogether the album spawned seven airplay and CD singles respectively, including Norwood's second number-one song, Diane Warren written "Have You Ever".
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 ad campaign photographed by David 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", Brandy returned with a 2001 remake of Phil Collins' 1980s hit "Another Day in Paradise", a collaboration with brother Ray J. Released as the lead single from Urban Renewal: A Tribute to Phil Collins, the song became an instant international hit.
2002-2003: New image
During the production of her third studio album, Norwood became romantically involved with producer Robert "Big Bert" Smith. The couple quietly "married" in the summer of 2001 but their union did not become known until February 2002 - the same month Norwood revealed that she was expecting her first child. However, shortly after the birth of their daughter Sy'rai Iman Smith on June 16, 2002 - an event tracked by the four-part MTV reality series Special Delivery - Norwood "divorced" Smith. The "marriage" itself was later exposed as not of legal status but instead was used as a ruse to protect Brandy's image. Norwood later stated that she regarded her relationship with Smith as a "spiritual union and true commitment to each other".
Full Moon, Norwood's third studio album, was released in March 2002. It once again comprised a row of R&B/Pop-oriented songs with adult contemporary, many of them co-created with Jerkins, Warryn Campbell and Mike City. While its lead single "What About Us?" became a worldwide top 10 hit, the album's title track failed to chart or sell noticeably outside the United States and the UK, where it managed to enter the Top 20 of the single chart. Media reception was generally lukewarm, with Rolling Stone Magazine saying 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 instead settled further into motherhood. She began writing and producing for other artists, such as Kelly Rowland, Tarralyn Ramsey, and Toni Braxton within the coming year.
2004-2005: Critical highs and personal lows
By the following year, Norwood had entered a relationship with New York Knicks guard Quentin Richardson. The couple soon got engaged in July 2004 but Brandy eventually ended her 15-month engagement with the NBA player in October 2005. As reported, Norwood who had Richardson's face tattooed on her back had to get the tatto transformed into a cat.
Returning from yet another musical hiatus, Brandy's fourth album Afrodisiac was released on June 29 2004 in North America, amidst both her weakest promotional blitz ever and the well-publicized termination of her short-lived business relationship with entertainment manager Benny Medina. Norwood ended her contract with his Los Angeles-based Handprint Entertainment after less than a year of representation following controversies surrounding Medina's handling of the lead single "Talk About Our Love", and failed talks of a purported co-headlining tour with R&B singer Usher. Upon parting Norwood admitted her switch to Medina made her appreciate what she had with her mother, stating that "It was such a drastic change that it didn't work for me. Nobody out there can match her passion for me."
Despite the negative blitz, Timbaland-produced Afrodisiac became Brandy's most critically acclaimed album to date, with some citing the "more consistently mature and challenging" effect of Timbaland on Brandy's music, and others calling it "very listenable and emotionally resonant", comparing it to "Janet Jackson at her best". Norwood described the CD as her most mature and versatile effort by then: "I just wanted to sing my heart out and connect with people. I wasn"t old enough or mature enough before to get into people"s hearts. Now I am." Nevertheless Afrodisiac became the least successful album of Brandy's career: While it debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, barely selling 500,000 copies domestically, the album widely failed to chart or sell noticeably outside the United States. "Talk Abour Our Love" reached number 6 on the UK singles chart but the album's follow-up singles failed to obtain success on the pop charts.
At the end of 2004, however, Norwood asked for and received a release from Atlantic Records, after eleven years with the company. As a direct consequence the label brought a collection of all of her singles, The Best of Brandy, on the market. "I think it's awesome to have an album that reflects the songs that people have enjoyed over the years," Brandy said in an interview the following year, "I'm happy to say that many of the tracks included are my favorites too." Thereupon she reportedly started shopping for a new record deal under Knockout Entertainment, her brother's label.
2006-present: Career development
In June 2006, Norwood was cast as one of three talent judges on the first season of America's Got Talent, an amateur talent contest on NBC with executive producer Simon Cowell and host Regis Philbin. The broadcast was one of the most-watched programmes of the summer, and concluded on August 17, 2006 with the win of 11-year-old singer Bianca Ryan. Brandy was originally scheduled to return for a second season of the show in summer 2007, but eventually decided to step down following her recent legal woes, feeling that "she couldn't give the new season the attention and commitment it deserved." She was replaced by U.S. reality TV star Sharon Osbourne.
Instead, Norwood is currently putting the finishing touches on her yet-to-be-titled fifth studio album which is scheduled for a fall 2007 release and involves producers Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, The Neptunes, Bryce Wilson, Tim & Bob, Wyldcard, and executive producer Bryan Michael Cox. The album's lead singleŽis expected to be released to U.S. radios in late October 2007. Brandy is also said to be in the works of a soundtrack for a yet-untitled sci-fi/action video game for PlayStation Portable in which she will be providing the voice for the main character.
2006 car accident
On December 30, 2006, at 10:30 a.m., Brandy struck another vehicle from behind on Interstate 405, a Los Angeles freeway, while driving her 2007 Land Rover at 65 mph, causing a chain reaction involving a total of four vehicles, including hers. The car she hit, a 2005 Toyota Corolla, hit another car, and then crossed into oncoming traffic, where it was struck by the fourth vehicle. The driver of the Toyota, 38-year-old Awatef Aboudihaj, a married mother of two, was taken to Holy Cross Hospital in critical condition and died the next day. Brandy was not injured and was not arrested, and there was no evidence that drugs or alcohol were involved. On January 29, 2007, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) recommended to the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office that Brandy be charged with a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter, which carries maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. CHP found that Brandy was at fault in the December 30 accident for failing to prevent her Land Rover from hitting the car in front of her when traffic suddenly slowed. The City Attorney's Office is reviewing the
case. On January 30, Aboudihaj's parents filed a law suit against Brandy for $50,000,000 for wrongful death. They seek both compensatory and punitive damages. On February 6, 2007 it was reported that the filing of a wrongful death suit by non-dependent parents is not permitted under California law; Bill Sayed, the attorney for Aboudihaj's husband, who can legally file suit, is reported to be conducting his own investigation. On February 8, 2007, a wrongful death suit seeking unspecified damages was filed against Brandy on behalf of Aboudihaj's minor sons, Mrwan Mohamed, 14, and Kareem Mohamed, 10. The two boys were riding in the car with their mother and sustained unspecified injuries which, according to their attorney, Paul N. Philips, "will likely cause some permanent disability".
Filed on May 23, yet another lawsuit this time filed by someone else involved in the car accident. He is seeking an undisclosed amount for bills and damages.
In 1993 while recording her debut album, Brandy landed the role of Danesha Turrell in the ABC sitcom Thea, playing the 12-year-old daughter of protagonist Thea Turrell (Thea Vidale). The series was taken off the screens eight months after its release but earned her a Young Artist Award nomination for "Outstanding Youth Ensemble in a Television Series."
Her shortlived engagement earned Brandy her first starring role in the UPN sitcom Moesha. Appearing alongside Sheryl Lee Ralph and Countess Vaughn, she played Moesha Mitchell, a typical 16-year-old girl from Los Angeles growing into adulthood. The show first aired in January 1995 on UPN and soon became the most watched show on the television network. Norwood who had not seen herself as an actress before, finally gained confidence: "I think Moesha is so much like me that I feel real comfortable." In 2001 the network canceled the show after six seasons on the air, leaving it ending with a cliffhanger for a scrapped seventh season.
In 1997 Norwood was hand-picked by executive producer Whitney Houston to play the title character in Rodgers and Hammerstein"s television version of Cinderella featuring a multi-cultural cast that also included Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters and Houston. The two-hour Wonderful World of Disney special garnered an estimated 60 million viewers, giving the network its highest ratings in the time period in 16 years, and won an Emmy Award. About filming Brandy later told Jet: "It was the best experience I could ever have."
A year after Brandy made her big screen debut after winning the supporting role of sassy Karla Wilson in the franchise-flick I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. The movie outperformed the original with a total of 16.5 million at its opening weekend but critical reaction towards the film was largely disappointing, with film review site Rotten Tomatoes calculating a poor rating of 7% based on 46 reviews. Norwood, however, earned positive reviews for her "bouncy" performance which garnered her both Blockbuster Entertainment Award and MTV Movie Award nominations for "Best Actress" and "Best Breakthrough Female Performance" respectively. In 1999, she co-starred with Diana Ross in the telefilm drama Double Platinum.
Since the early 2000s Norwood's focus on acting has permanently decreased to occasional guest appearances on several television shows such as Reba (2002), Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (2002), American Dreams (2004), House (2005) and One on One (2006). As reported, she's however working on a yet-untitled Touchstone Television-produced sitcom for The CW since mid-2004. Brandy will play a die-hard New Yorker who moves to Los Angeles to take a job as an entertainment editor. "It's going to be me playing [a character based on] my life, but it's not going to be me as Brandy," she explained in an interview with MTV News. "It's going to be a totally different person, but with the same challenges that I go through in my life ... being a single mom, raising my child, trying to have a life, trying to have friends and trying to do my own thing." The pilot for the series, which will be co-executive produced by Norwood, her mother Sonja, and producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, is said to be written by Girlfriends creator Mara Brock Akil.