The Vocal Bible

by Kayla Roddey

Who is Brandy?

Brandy Rayana Norwood was born on February 11, 1979, in McComb, Mississippi. She was raised in Carson, California by her father, William Ray Norwood, her mother, Sonja Norwood, and with her brother William Norwood Jr. (Ray J). Brandy is also the cousin of West Coast rapper Snoop Dogg. Like many artists, Brandy got her start in the church. She sang in her church’s choir and performed several solos. By the age of eleven she was entering local talent shows. In 1993, Brandy signed her to Atlantic Records. Brandy dubs Whitney Houston as being her biggest influence, along with Kim Burrell, Sade, Michael Jackson, the Clark Sisters, Stevie Wonder, and Aretha Franklin.

Music Career

Brandy was only 15 when she released her debut self-titled album. It peaked at number 20 on the U.S. Billboard charts. This album has two of her most notable and successful songs, ‘I Wanna Be Down’ and ‘Baby’. After this album was released Brandy went on tour as the opening act for Boyz II Men. 

For her next album, she recruited well-known produced Rodney Jerkins, known as Darkchild. This album contained Brandy’s most successful song to date, The Boy is Mine. A duet with Monica. This song became the most successful song by a female duo in music history and is one of the best-selling records in U.S. history. Unsurprisingly, this album became Brandy’s best-selling and gave her her first number one song and number two album. 

Brandy released her 3rd studio album, Full Moon in 2002 (#2 Billboard, #1 R&B Charts) and her 4th entitled Afrodisiac in 2004. Full Moon is one of her most influential albums- this album birthed the reference “The Vocal Bible”. Afrodisiac, while not her top-selling, was Brandy’s most critically acclaimed album. Her fifth album, Human was also produced by Rodney Jerkins and reached 15 on the U.S. Billboard Charts. Her sixth album was released in 2012 and hit #3 on U.S. Billboard charts and #1 on the U.S. R&B Hip-Hop charts. 

In 2019, Brandy appeared on the single Love Again by Daniel Cesar. This song earned #1 on the Adult R&B charts and a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance. In July 2020, Brandy released her seventh studio album, B7. This was her first release as an independent artist. It was received well critically and debuted at #12 on the U.S. Billboard Charts.

Film/Television/Broadway

In the year 1996 Brandy was cast for her own sitcom, Moesha. The show was very successful, becoming one of the longest-running black sitcoms (6 seasons). In 1997, Brandy was cast in the Whitney Houston produced Cinderella. The movie television special garnered 60 million votes and an Emmy. Brandy’s first cinema movie was I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. She was a judge on the first season of America’s Got Talent in 2006. In 2010 she appeared on Dancing With the Stars and got 4th place. In 2011 she joined the cast of the BET drama, The Game. In 2013, she starred in Tyler Perry’s Temptation


In 2015, Brandy made a Broadway debut in the musical Chicago.

Awards

Impact

Brandy has had an invaluable impact on other artists. Besides her commercial success, her unique voice, texture, and vocal choices have inspired generations and earned her the title of “The Vocal Bible”. A plethora of artists have cited her as an influence including Ariana Grande, Teyana Taylor, Rihanna, Erykah Badu, Jessie J, Luke James, India Arie, Melanie Fiona, and Kelly Rowland. Brandy is also very well respected among her contemporaries and peers such as Missy Elliot, Brian McKnight, Jill Scott, Jennifer Hudson, and Tamar Braxton. Brandy has been credited for inspiring the entire culture of vocal arrangements during the 2000s with her use of multitrack recording and vocal stacking and unique layering, tone, and timbre.

"Brandy is really the foundation of a lot of this very innovative, progressive, experimental R&B. Brandy really influenced a lot of that. Frank Ocean will say it. Miguel will say it."
-Solange
"That is one of the illest voices on the face of the planet."
-Jill Scott
"There are so many people that we hear today where we're like.. that's a Brandy run, that's a Brandy vocal stack."
-India.Arie

Citations:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2020/10/29/brandy-interview/

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/brandy-mn0000608945/biography

https://www.billboard.com/pro/brandy-daniel-caesar-love-again-number-1-adult-rb-songs-chart/

https://www.npr.org/sections/microphonecheck/2014/02/12/272432827/solange-knowles-on-nas-juvenile-and-dance-moves

 

 

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