Brandy was born on a full moon in small town Mississippi, but grew up in Southern California with her parents and brother Ray-J. Brandy’s singing career began early — she was a back-up singer at 11 (for R&B group Immature), won a recording contract at 14, and released her first album, Brandy, at 15. Her acting career was similarly successful with Brandy securing her own sitcom Moesha; the most watched show in UPN history.
Brandy’s self-titled debut album released in 1994 has sold over 7 million copies worldwide and features the hit singles, “I Wanna Be Down” and “Brokenhearted”. Her raspy alto is widely praised, with former Red Hot Chilli Peppers guitarist John Frusciante describing it as, “multi-dimensional… you have to hear her voice with your subconscious.”
But her much-awaited second album was put on hold while Brandy focused on acting. In addition to her role as Moesha, she played Cinderella in a television remake of the classic fairytale in 1997. Singer Whitney Houston, who helped produced the film, starred as her fairy godmother.
When Brandy finally released her follow-up album it was an even bigger success than her first. 1998’s Never Say Never features the well-known duet, “The Boy Is Mine” with singer Monica and songs “Have You Ever?” and “Almost Doesn’t Count”. The same year she appeared in the film I Still Know What You Did Last Summer alongside Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt, and worked as a CoverGirl.
After her sophomore album, she took another break from singing, returning in 2002 with Full Moon and a daughter, Sy’rai, from her relationship with producer Robert Smith. Her pregnancy was documented on the MTV reality TV show Diary Presents Brandy: Special Delivery. She later worked as a judge on the first season of reality talent show America’s Got Talent, but left the show after being involved in a fatal multi-car accident.
Her last two albums Afrodisiac and Human highlighted her journey from a young, inexperienced star to a multifaceted woman who has lived a life speckled with trials and triumphs. On the difference between her first albums and her later albums Brandy says,
“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.”
Brandy cites Whitney Houston as her number one musical inspiration — Whitney’s music video for, “How Will I Know” spurred Brandy to pursue a professional music career. She is planning on releasing a joint R&B album with her brother Ray-J.
Brandy is first cousin of rapper Snoop Dogg and close friend of tennis player Serena Williams and fellow R&B singer Kelly Rowland.
She was NBA star Kobe Bryant’s high school prom date and former fiancée of NBA guard Quentin Richardson.