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Also Known As: Brandy Norwood, Brandy Rayana Norwood Died:
Born: February 11, 1979 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: McComb, Mississippi, USA Profession: singer, actor, producer, model

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Brandy's deep, raspy voice and hip girl-next-door appeal was like a breath of fresh air from the heavy rap, sugary pop and alternative rock music that dominated the charts in the early 1990s. She was the voice behind the monster hits, "I Wanna be Down" (1994), and "Sittin' Up in My Room" (1995), radio-friendly ballads that reflected the singer's youthful musings about first loves and heartache. Her 1998 duet with singer, Monica, "The Boy Is Mine," scored Brandy her first No. 1 hit on the Billboard charts. Far from being a one-note, Brandy nabbed the title role on the popular sitcom, "Moesha" (UPN, 1996-2001), as a trendy teenager navigating her way around high school. With an image less diva than Mariah Carey yet more urban than Whitney Houston, Brandy became a role model anyone's mother could easily approve of. But her red-hot career cooled in the 2000s, coinciding with personal setbacks, including unexpected pregnancy, a fake marriage and a tragic 2006 car accident, which resulted in the death of a young mother. The latter incident kept the singer embroiled in legal battles for almost three years before being cleared of all charges in 2007. With a new lease on life, Brandy set out to resuscitate...

Brandy's deep, raspy voice and hip girl-next-door appeal was like a breath of fresh air from the heavy rap, sugary pop and alternative rock music that dominated the charts in the early 1990s. She was the voice behind the monster hits, "I Wanna be Down" (1994), and "Sittin' Up in My Room" (1995), radio-friendly ballads that reflected the singer's youthful musings about first loves and heartache. Her 1998 duet with singer, Monica, "The Boy Is Mine," scored Brandy her first No. 1 hit on the Billboard charts. Far from being a one-note, Brandy nabbed the title role on the popular sitcom, "Moesha" (UPN, 1996-2001), as a trendy teenager navigating her way around high school. With an image less diva than Mariah Carey yet more urban than Whitney Houston, Brandy became a role model anyone's mother could easily approve of. But her red-hot career cooled in the 2000s, coinciding with personal setbacks, including unexpected pregnancy, a fake marriage and a tragic 2006 car accident, which resulted in the death of a young mother. The latter incident kept the singer embroiled in legal battles for almost three years before being cleared of all charges in 2007. With a new lease on life, Brandy set out to resuscitate her ailing career by starring in the VH1 reality series, "Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business" (2010- ), and competing on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" (2005- ). While both projects hardly qualified as major comebacks, they were testaments of the singer's talent and an inner resilience that made the performer truly unique.

Brandy Rayana Norwood was born on Feb. 11, 1979 in McComb, MS. When she was four, her parents moved the family to Los Angeles to jumpstart her singing career as well as her brother's, Willie "Ray J" Jr., then two. A newly relocated Brandy performed at various functions as part of a youth group, and while barely in her teens, sang backup to an R&B trio. A natural in front of the camera, she also tried her luck at acting and quickly landed guest spots on a number of television award shows and specials. Shortly after, she was cast on the comedy series "Thea" (ABC, 1993-95) as the precocious daughter of a single mother. In 1994, Brandy released her self-titled debut album featuring the about-to-be smash hits, "I Wanna be Down," "Baby," "Best Friend" and "Brokenhearted." The star-making album showcased her smoky, slightly husky voice, and lyrics that reflected her innocent image. Selling more than four million copies worldwide, the album earned numerous accolades, including two Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. The following year, Brandy scored another hit, "Sittin' Up in My Room," a cut from the soundtrack of the film "Waiting to Exhale" (1995). She also performed the song, "Where Are You Now," for the "Batman Forever" (1995) soundtrack, and collaborated with Chaka Khan and Gladys Knight on the single, "Missing You," from the soundtrack of the film "Set It Off" (1996).

While her music career flourished, Brandy returned to television as the lead of the popular sitcom "Moesha," which centered on the life an upper middle-class, African-American family as seen through the eyes of Moesha Mitchell, a trendy and independent high school student. The show's realistic depiction of a black, middle-class family as they dealt with real teen issues - sex, drug use and race relations - resonated with viewers, making it one of the network's top-rated shows. Brandy's wholesome personality also helped her land the lead part on the Disney special, "Cinderella" (ABC, 1997), a remake of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical of the classic fairytale. The updated version featured an all-star, multiracial cast that included R&B artist, Whitney Houston, as Cinderella's fairy godmother, and Bernadette Peters as the wicked stepmother, and was seen by more than 60 million viewers. In 1998, Brandy came out with her long-awaited sophomore album, Never Say Never, featuring the singer's deep vocals and well-worn tone. The album spawned the hit single, "The Boy Is Mine," a duet with singer, Monica, and inspired by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson's classic duet, "The Girl Is Mine" (1982). Fueled by a sexy music video showing the teen divas fighting over the love of one man, the song soared to the No.1 spot on the Billboard charts, and garnered the pair a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Hoping to branch out as a more mature actress, Brandy starred in the slasher film, "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" (1998), where she engaged in her first onscreen make-out session with co-star Mekhi Phifer.

Brandy's music always took center stage, but as was the case for many celebrities who grew up in the public spotlight, her personal life also attracted tabloid attention. She briefly dated Boyz II Men lead singer, Wanya Morris, and before he was an NBA star, Kobe Bryant took Brandy to his high school prom in 1996. Brandy maintained a squeaky-clean public persona, until she announced in 2002 that she was having a baby with music producer, Robert Smith, whom she claimed she secretly married in 2001. She gave birth to her daughter, Sy'rai, in June 2002, as documented on the show "Brandy: Special Delivery" (MTV). The couple separated in 2003. A year later, Smith revealed that they feigned marriage to preserve Brandy's image. He made the announcement while making appearances to promote a new artist. Brandy's camp issued a statement saying that the singer was "hurt and shocked" by Smith's revelations, and confirmed that instead of a legally recognized marriage, the couple had a "spiritual union and a true commitment to each other."

Brandy appeared to have bounced back into the limelight with the album, Afrodisiac (2004), which showcased a decidedly more mature singer with richer and warmer vocals. The most successful cuts were her collaborations with musician Timbaland ("I Tried"), and the pop-soul gem "Talk About Our Love" produced by and featuring future hip-hop phenomenon, Kanye West. While Afrodisiac earned rave reviews from critics, sales were dismal compared to Brandy's previous work. Her studio album, Human (2008), was similarly panned by critics who called it "emotional but unadventurous," and it also failed to make the charts or sales. In June 2006, Brandy was cast as one of the celebrity judges on the first season of "America's Got Talent" (NBC, 2006- ) along with Piers Morgan and David Hasselhoff. She was scheduled to return for a second season, but she declined so she could focus on legal battles following her involvement in a fatal, four-car freeway accident in December 2006. According to police reports, Brandy's Land Rover failed to slow in traffic and rear-ended a Honda, causing a chain reaction that ultimately killed Awatef Aboudihaj, a 38-year-old waitress and mother of two children. Brandy faced multiple lawsuits, including a possible charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter that, if convicted, would have sent her to jail. In December 2007, news broke that Brandy would not face criminal charges stemming from the crash; two years later, the singer reached a settlement with Aboudihaj's family who filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit in 2008. She had previously inked settlements with three other parties involved in the accident. Brandy tried to revive her career by starring on the series, "Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business," which followed the siblings as they took on bigger roles in managing the family's production company. She also hit the ballroom dance floor as one of the contestants on season 11 of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ) along with comedian Margaret Cho, former pro athletes Kurt Warner and Rick Fox, and singer Michael Bolton.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Last Chance Cafe (2006)
3.
 Osmosis Jones (2001) Voice Of Leah
4.
 Double Platinum (1999) Kayla Harris
5.
6.
7.
 Arachnophobia (1990) Brandy Beechwood
9.
 2003 Espy Awards, The (2003) Presenter
10.
 Intimate Portrait: Brandy (2002) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1981:
Sang her first solo in church when she was two years old
1983:
Moved with family to California
:
Performed on numerous award shows as part of youth singing group
1990:
Named Darling of the Brotherhood Crusade; serenaded Arsenio Hall
:
Landed a gig as backup singer to the teen R&B trio Immature
1993:
Made her series debut appearing on the short-lived ABC sitcom "Thea"
1993:
Signed a recording contract with the Atlantic Recording Corporation
1994:
Released her debut album, <i>Brandy</i>; earned two Grammy Award nominations for Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance
1995:
First feature credit, singing "Where Are You Now" on the "Batman Forever" soundtrack
1995:
Scored huge hit with the "Sittin' Up in My Room" single from the "Waiting to Exhale" soundtrack
1996:
Debut as TV series star in "Moesha," which became the first hit sitcom for UPN
1996:
Collaborated with Tamia, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight on the single "Missing You" from the "Set It Off" soundtrack; earned a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals
1997:
Played the title role, opposite mentor Whitney Houston (as the Fairy Godmother), in the ABC remake of "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella"
1998:
Released her second album <i>Never Say Never</i>, which included "The Boy Is Mine," a Grammy winning duet with singer Monica
1998:
Made her feature acting debut in "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer"
1998:
Signed to a worldwide modeling contract with the prestigious Wilhemena International agency
:
Formed production company Norwood Entertainment Group with mother, father and brother
1999:
Performed with the likes of Cher, Tina Turner and Houston in "VH1 Divas Live '99"
1999:
Executive produced and starred opposite Diana Ross in the ABC TV-movie "Double Platinum"; first production of Norwood Entertainment Group
2001:
Voiced Leah in the animated feature "Osmosis Jones"
2002:
Released third album <i>Full Moon</i>
2002:
Documented the birth of her first child with producer/songwriter Robert Smith on the MTV series "Diary Presents Brandy: Special Delivery"
2004:
Released next album "Afrodisiac"
2004:
Received an unconditional release from Atlantic Records
2006:
Cast as one of three talent judges on the first season of "America's Got Talent" (NBC)
2008:
Released fifth studio album <i>Human</i>; her first and only release with Epic Records
2009:
Introduced her rapping alter-ego Bran'Nu with two credits on Timbaland's album <i>Timbaland Presents Shock Value 2</i>
2010:
Appeared with her brother Ray J on the VH1 reality series "Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business" along with their parents
2010:
Joined season 11 of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC) as a contestant
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Pepperdine University: Malibu , California -
Hollywood High Performing Arts Center: Los Angeles , California -

Notes

Brandy received the 1996 Soul Train Lady of Soul "Aretha Franklin Entertainer of the Year Award".

In November 1999, she was briefly hospitalized for dehydration.

"On one [episode of "Moesha"] I tried out to be a cheerleader, and it hit me that this was about the only way I'd ever get a chance to."---Brandy to Time, March 25, 1996

"Brandy has relentless drive and love for what she does. More so than just about every other artist I've worked with, she's indefatigable, yet does everything with incredible grace and class. If I did an eighth of what she did, I'd wear myself out."---Ron Shapiro, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Atlantic Records, quoted in the Los Angeles Times, June 7, 1998.

"I want to produce. I want to direct. I want success. I want it all. If I die today, I want people to talk about me on every channel."---Brandy quoted in People, June 8, 1998.

"I'm a good girl and I like to be nice and I like to smile and I like to be sweet. But, then again, I'm human. I make mistakes, you know. I'm just like any other teen-age girl. I get upset. I get angry. I can be really quiet, and I can get loud and people have to tell me to shut up. I have a lot of personalities all mixed into one."---Brandy to New York Post, December 4, 1998.

In July 2004, Robert Smith reveled to New York radio stations WBLS and WQHT, that he and Brandy feigned marriage in order to maintain the ''Moesha'' star's squeaky-clean image, after she became pregnant in 2002.

In response to ex-husband Robert Smith's announcement that he and Brandy were never married: Brandy said she was "hurt and shocked" by Smith's disclosures but did not deny them. She said that, rather than a legal marriage, she and Smith shared a "spiritual union and a true commitment to each other." Plus, she said, "We still share a common bond through our daughter, Sy'rai," She complained, "He is not thinking about her, me, or what we had together. He is trying to destroy my reputation while using me and our daughter to get publicity and radio airplay for his artists. I am stunned that he is being so dirty about it."---Brandy in a statement released MTV, July 22, 2004.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Wayna Morris. Singer. Member of Boyz II Men; conducted a one-and-a-half year relationship; its breakup inspired some of the songs she co-wrote on her second album "Never Say Never" (1998).
companion:
Kobe Bryant. Professional athlete. Brandy has described this relationship as "media-conconcted", though the two were prom dates.
companion:
Tyrese. Singer, actor. Reportedly began dating in 2000.
husband:
Robert Smith. Producer, songwriter. Married in summer of 2001; announced union in February 2002; father of their child; seperated as of June 2003; was reveled to a New York radio station that the two feigned marriage to maintain Brandy's squeaky-clean image.
companion:
Quentin Richardson. Professional basketball player. A guard on the Los Angeles Clippers; engaged July 27, 2004.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Willie Ray Norwood Sr. Church music director. Born c. 1949; also serves as Brandy's vocal coach.
mother:
Sonja Norwood. Manager. Born c. 1951; manages children's careers; former H&R Block manager.
brother:
Ray J. Actor, singer. Born c. 1981; was a regular on Fox's short-lived "The Sinbad Show" (1993-1994); like sister, signed to Atlantic Records.
daughter:
Sy'rai Smith. Born June 16, 2002.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Brandy: An Intimate Look"

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