By// Kyra Kyles
She entered the R&B scene with a gorgeous contralto, wide smile and a head full of box braids. In 1994, music fans were introduced to then 15-year-old Brandy Rayana Norwood, and have watched her grow from a vibrant child to a full-grown, gorgeous woman with a family of her own. And, oh, how she’s hustled. From early acting roles on
Moesha to her recurring gig on The Game, the talented singer, actress and reality show star exhibited resilience. But her meteoric rise came to a full stop when life challenges— including her involvement in a 2006 car accident that resulted in another driver’s death— threatened to dull her once unstoppable shine. But now Brandy’s back with a new label deal, hot
album and a bolder, brighter outlook. JET shares the secrets to how Ms. Norwood got her groove back.
Two Eleven is equal parts triumph and tragedy. On one hand, the title celebrates the 33-year-old’s birth date. On the other, it invokes the day her mentor, Whitney Houston, slipped from the mortal coil. But if Brandy’s career trajectory is any indication, the term also offers a third meaning: rebirth.
There is no more apt description for the one-named wonder’s climb back to the top of the charts. Her latest studio effort, fronted by the infectious, Chris Brown-assisted “Put it Down,” brought her back on the scene with a belly flop-sized splash, peaking at No. 3 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop roster. The year 2012 marks a brand-new sound and a fresh start for Brandy.
“I’ve never been a follower in my journey of music,” says the former pop princess who won our hearts with hits such as “I Wanna Be Down” and “The Boy is Mine.” “I’m always interested in challenges and taking risks.” That strategy is clearly paying off in the form of rebounding recording success and another year of her breakout role on
BET’s hit sitcom, The Game.
TO READ MORE ABOUT BRANDY’S EVOLUTION, PICK UP THE NEW ISSUE OF JET MAGAZINE, ON SALE TODAY.