The Boy is Mine
Brandy Norwood, known professional as Brandy, is an American R&B singer/songwriter, actress, record producer and television personality. She has sold over eight million copies of her six studios albums in the US and over 30 million records worldwide, to date, making her one of the best selling female artists in the American music history. In 1999, she won her first Grammy Award for “The Boy Is Mine,” a duet sung with Monica, from her most successful album to date, “Never Say Never” (1998). Other hit singles she has released include “I Wanna Be Down,” “Baby,” “Have You Ever?” and “What About Us?.” After a long partnership with Atlantic Records, Brandy parted ways with her label in 2005, and released her latest album, “Human,” on Epic Records in December 2008. Prior to releasing her debut record in 1994, Brandy made her series regular debut on the short lived sitcom “Thea” (1993-1994). She later scored a success as the star of the UPN sitcom “Moesha” (1996-2001), from which she picked up an NAACP Image Award, not to mention a number of award nominations. She also starred in the popular TV films “Cinderella” (1997) and “Double Platinum” (1999) and in the film “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” (1998). More recently, she had a recurring role in “90210” (2011). From 2010-2011, Brandy and her younger brother starred in the reality TV show “Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business” (VH1).
Brandy has a daughter, Sy'rai Iman Smith, with former companion music producer Robert Smith (together from 2001 to 2004). In July 2004, she was engaged to NBA player Quentin Richardson, but the couple later called off their engagement in September 2005. She has also been linked to Kobe Bryant, Wayna Morris, and Tyrese. Brandy is close friends with tennis stars Serena Williams and Venus Williams.
Childhood and Family:
Brandy Rayana Norwood was born on February 11, 1979, in McComb, Mississippi, to Willie Ray Norwood Sr. (born 1949) and Sonja Norwood (born . 1951), a former district manager for H&R Block who left her job to manage her children. Her father, who was a former gospel singer and choir director, becomes Brandy's vocal couch. She has a younger brother, Ray J. born (born January 17, 1981), who is also a singer, songwriter and actor. Multi platinum recording rapper Snoop Dogg is her first cousin.
Raised in a Christian family, Brandy began singing at her father's church choir in McComb and sang her first gospel solo when she was 2 years old. Her family moved to California two years later in 1983. Brandy attended the Hollywood High Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles, but she later dropped out and began studying with a private tutor from 10th grade on. She studied at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California from 1996 to 1999 before quitting due to her hectic schedule.
On June 16, 2002, Brandy gave birth to a daughter, Sy rai Iman Smith. She claimed to have married her daughter's father, producer Robert Smith, secretly in 2001, but Smith later stated that they were never legally married. The couple, who had been in a relationship since the summer of 2001, announced their separation a year after the birth of their girl. Brandy's nickname is B-Rocka.
Brandy Norwood knew that she wanted to become a professional singer at age 4. With mounting interest in music, specially after she became a fan of singer Whitney Houston at the age of seven, she began participating in talent shows at age 11 despite lack of supports from her teachers and performed at many public functions as part of a youth singing group. In 1990, a then 11 year old Brandy landed a gig as a backup singer to the teen R&B trio Immature. She eventually secured a recording contract with the Atlantic Recording Corporation in 1993.
During the early production phases of her debut album, Brandy was chosen to play the supporting role of Danesha Turrell on the ABC comedy series “Thea,” starring comedienne Thea Vidale. The show ram for a season from September 3, 1993 to February 14, 1994. The show brought Brandy a 1994 Young Artist nomination in the category of Outstanding Youth Ensemble in a Television Series, sharing with co-stars Brenden Jefferson, Adam Jeffries and Jason Weaver. Brandy expressed happiness with the cancellation of the show because the tape had caused the scheduling conflicts with the recording of her album.
Her debut album, “Brandy,” was released through Atlantic Records on September 27, 1994 in the Unites States, on December 5, 1994 in the United Kingdom and on several dates in Europe, starting on February 3, 1995. Produced by Keith Crouch and Darryl Williams, the album reached No. 20 on the Billboard 200 and No. 6 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. It has sold more thann 6 million units worldwide and received 4x platinum certification from the RIAA. The first single “I Wanna Be Down” (1994) spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart, as well as peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 36 on the UK Singles Chart. The single went gold in both the US and New Zealand, where it reached No. 11 on the country's singles chart. The second single “Baby” (1995) became her next Billboard's Hot R&B Singles No. 1 hit and also reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the New Zealand singles chart, and No. 16 in Australia. The song went platinum in the US and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 1996. the album's third single, the dance song “Best Friend” (1995), reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles and No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100. A remix version of “Brokenhearted,” featuring Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men, was released as the fourth and last single from the album. The song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles, and No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her third top 10 hit in the US. Along with Alanis Morissette, Joan Osborne and Shania Twain, Brandy became a nominee for Best New Artist at the 1996 Grammy Awards that eventually won by Hootie & the Blowfish. She also picked up four Soul Train Music Awards, two Billboard Awards, and the New York Children's Choice Award for her debut album.
In 1995, Brandy served as the opening act on Boyz II Men's national tour. The same year, she also performed the song “Where Are You Now” for the soundtrack to the film “Batman Forever” and scored a big hit with “Sittin' Up In My Room,” which was written and produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds for the soundtrack of the 1995 film “Waiting to Exhale.” The song reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs, and No. 16 in the UK. In 1996, she worked with Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, and Tamia on the song “Missing You” for the soundtrack of the 1996 motion picture “Set It Off.” Released on August 6, 1996, the song reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs, No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 in New Zealand. It was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award in the category of Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group and won a 1996 MTV Movie for Best Movie Song.
Brandy returned to the small screen when she starred as the title role on the UPN sitcom “Moesha,” which ran for six seasons from January 23, 1996 to May 14, 2001. Playing Moesha Mitchell, a high school student living with her family in the Leimert Park neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles, she won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress in 1997 and went on to receive Image nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for the next four years. She also received three Blimp Award nominations for Favorite Television Actress (1998, 2000 and 2001), three Young Artist nominations for Best Performance in a TV Comedy - Leading Young Actress (1997, 1998, 1999), a YoungStar nomination for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy TV Series (1997) and a Teen Choice nomination for TV - Choice Actress (1999).
In 1997, Brandy played the title character in Rodgers and Hammerstein's television version of “Cinderella” (ABC), opposite mentor Whitney Houston, who played the Fairy Godmother. The broadcast was very popular, with an audience of 60 million viewers, and won an Emmy for Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program in 1998. Brandy was nominated for a 1998 Image Award in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Television Movie or Mini-Series for her performance. Brandy made her big screen debut in the slasher film “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” (1998), a sequel to the 1997 film “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” There she played Jennifer Love Hewitt's sassy roommate, Karla Wilson, and received an MTV Movie nomination for Best Breakthrough Female Performance and a Blockbuster Entertainment nomination for Favorite Actress - Horror for her efforts. The same year, she also signed a worldwide modeling contract with Wilhemena International agency.
Recorded from August 1997 through April 1998, Brandy's second studio album, “Never Say Never,” hit the music stores in June 1998. It received mostly positive reviews from critics, and peaked at No.2 on both the Billboard 200 and the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and No. 19 in the UK Albums chart. The self co-written lead single “The Boy is Mine,” with Monica, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed for a record breaking 13 weeks on the post, and also made the No.1 spot on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The song also reached the top five on most of the other charts where it appeared, and won a 1999 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. The album also spawned the UK hit single “Top of the World” (1998), featuring Mase, the David Foster produced, Diane Warren written hit “Have You Ever?,” which marked the singer's second No.1 hit single on the Billboard Hot 100, and the Grammy nominated ballad “Almost Doesn't Count” (1999). “Never Say Never” was certified 5x platinum by the RIAA.
In 1999, Brandy portrayed Kayla Harris on the made for television film “Double Platinum” (ABC), opposite Diana Ross. The film, on which she also served as an executive producer, marked the first production of Norwood Entertainment Group, a production company she formed with her family. The same year, she also performed with the likes of Cher, Tina Turner and Houston in “VH1 Divas Live 2.”
In 2001, Brandy recorded a cover version of Phil Collins' 1980s hit “Another Day in Paradise” with her brother Ray-J for the Phil Collins tribute album “Urban Renewal.” Released as the album's lead single, the sibling version became a Top 10 hit in many countries such as the UK (#5), Switzerland (#3), Sweden (#4), Norway(#4), Netherlands (#6), Ireland (#4), Germany (#2), Denmark (#6), Belgium (#7). The same year, Brandy also provided the voice of Leah in the animated film “Osmosis Jones.” 2002 found Brandy chronicling the birth of her first child with producer/songwriter Robert Smith on the MTV show “Brandy's Special Delivery” and also making guest appearance in TV shows such as “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” “Raising Dad” and “Reba.”
It was also in 2002 that Brandy released her third studio album, “Full Moon.” The album reached No.2 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. It went platinum in the US and was nominated for a 2003 Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album. The album produced two singles: “What About Us?” and “Full Moon,” which reached No. 7 and No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100. The follow up “Afrodisiac” was released on June 28, 2004. The album reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 4 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and went gold in the US. The first single “Talk About Our Love” (featuring Kanye West), made it to the top 10 in the UK Singles chart and the Top 40 in the Billboard Hot 100 (#36) and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (#16). However, the later singles “Who Is She 2 U” and “Afrodisiac” failed to score successfully on the popular music charts. In mid 2005, Brandy asked for and received a release from Atlantic Records, making “Afrodisiac” her final studio album on the label.
In 2006, Brandy served as one of three talent judges on the first season of “America's Got Talent,” a reality show that debuted on NBC on on June 21, 2006 and part of the global British Got Talent franchise. She was replaced by reality TV star Sharon Osbourne for the show's second season. Still in 2006, she played Michelle McGinty in four episodes of the sitcom “One on One.”
Brandy's fifth studio album, “Human,” was released on December 5, 2008 on Epic Records. The album was generally well received by critics and debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard 200. It sodl about 210,045 units in the US and became the singer's lowest selling effort to date. The single “Right Here (Departed)” peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 22 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The follow up “Long Distance” peaked at No. 38 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
In December 2009, Brandy officially introduced her rapping alter-ego Bran'Nu with two credits on Timbaland's album “Timbaland Presents Shock Value 2.”
In 2010, Brandy starred alongside her brother Ray J on the VH1 reality series “Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business,” which debuted on April 11, 2010.
Recently, in 2011, Brandy portrayed Elisa Shayne in three episodes of “Drop Dead Diva” and the recurring role of Marissa Harris-Young on “90210.” In August 2011, it was confirmed that Brandy signed a joint record deal with RCA Records and producer Breyon Prescott's Chameleon Records and will release her sixth studio album in early 2012.
Brandy will play Melinda in the upcoming drama film “The Marriage Counselor,” opposite Kim Kardashian, Eric West and Vanessa Williams. Written and directed by Tyler Perry, the film is set to be released in 2012.
Grammy: Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, “The Boy is Mine,” 1999
Image: Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress, “Moesha,” 1997
MTV Movie: Best Movie Song, “Waiting to Exhale,” For the song “Sittin' Up In My Room,” 1996