Happy birthday to singer Brandy!
Brandy Rayana Norwood (born February 11, 1979), known professionally as Brandy, is an American actress, R&B 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.
The RIAA ranks Norwood as one of the best-selling female artists in American music history having sold over 10.5 million albums in the United States.
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. While not her biggest hit, the single did peak at number 25 on the pop chart, and Norwood received her third Grammy nomination in the "Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals" category
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.
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.
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.
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. Despite the negative blitz, Timbaland-produced Afrodisiac became Brandy's most critically acclaimed album to date,, 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.