It’s another trip around the sun for Brandy, born Brandy Rayana Norwood on Feb. 11, 1979. Since her classic debut in 1994, she’s never quite left the public consciousness, entering our homes as a singer, actress and reality TV star, among other roles and endeavors.
What a record that debut was! Four singles were spun off the album, including “Baby,” “Best Friend,” and “I Wanna Be Down.” The whole thing sold six million copies worldwide, heralding a great new talent and fresh voice in pop and R&B.
Brandy branched out and took on Hollywood, most notably as the star of the UPN sitcom Moesha, the TV film Cinderella alongside Whitney Houston (newly available to stream on Disney+) and in the horror film I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Music was never far from her heart, though, and even as she lit up the small and big screens, she was contributing songs to soundtracks like Waiting to Exhale (“Sittin’ Up in My Room”) and Set It Off (“Missing You”).
Her second album,1998’s Never Say Never, exceeded even her debut in terms of songwriting and performance, selling five million copies in the U.S. alone. The record featured the Grammy-winning duet with Monica, “The Boy is Mine,” which spent 13 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and was the song of the summer in 1998.
Subsequent albums Full Moon (2002) and Afrodesiac (2004) continued Brandy’s win streak. She also became a reality TV star, with Brandy: Special Delivery and Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business and was a judge on the first season of America’s Got Talent. She’s continued in recent years with additional TV roles, a stint on Broadway (in the musical Chicago) and making more music, including 2020’s B7, which featured the single “Baby Mama,” with Chance the Rapper.