Happy Birthday, Brandy!
Brandy turns 38 today (Feb. 11) and with over 20 years of great music to her resume, we thought it was a great time to celebrate the singer/actress who first burst onto the scene in the early 90s with a starring role on the long-defunct ABC sitcom Thea before she achieved superstardom with her 1994 self-titled debut.
The precociousness of her early years belied a powerhouse vocalist, a prodigious talent who hit the ground running as entertainer. Her first two albums were multiplatinum smashes, with 1998s Never Say Never showcasing an ever-maturing young woman who was developing a strong sense of who she was as an artist. The early 2000s saw Brandy's commercial standing dip, but her third album Full Moon cemented her transition from teen star to adult artist. Despite not achieving the success of her previous albums, it represented a leap forward and became a fan favorite which has grown in standing in the almost decade-and-a-half since it's release.
From there, tabloid attention on an ill-conceived faux marriage to producer Robert "Big Bert" Smith, (a union that was revealed to be a media ruse) overshadowed her stellar third album, 2004s Afrodisiac, a project that would provide inspiration to artists as wide-ranging as famed former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante to soon-to-be megastar Rihanna. It could be argued that the album represented, not only a landmark in Brandy's career, but a shift from the more 90s-influenced sound of the early 2000s in R&B to a more contemporary, futuristic sonic imprint. While Timbaland's work with ingenues such as Aaliyah and Nelly Furtado earned raves, it was his work with Brandy that seemed to influence so much music that came after.
Brandy was devastated following her involvement in a fatal car accident in Los Angeles in 2006 that took the life of 38-year old Awatef Aboudihaj. She wouldn't release another album until 2008s Human, a solid follow-up to Afrodisiac that was well-received but failed to return her commercial standing. By this point, Brandy's legacy as an influential artist was cemented amongst fans of R&B and a generation of singers had emerged who consistently cited her as a major inspiration on their sound and approach; a sentiment that was amplified in R&B circles with the release of Two Eleven in 2012.
A while back, Solange, herself no stranger to being a woefully underrated R&B artist, criticized music critics who are ignorant of Brandy's legacy in a series of tweets regarding dismissals of that album, in particular.
Check them out below and check out some of our favorite songs/videos from Ms. Norwood herself.