Brandy is the daughter of church pastor and Gospel singer Willie Ray Norwood Sr. and his wife, Sonja Norwood. She has a younger brother, William Raymond Norwood Jr., a singer-actor who performs under the stage name Ray J. Brandy started singing in church as a very young girl, and when she was four, her family packed up and moved to the Los Angeles area to jump start Brandy and Ray’s careers as performers. When Brandy was eleven, she began to get work as a backup singer. She won a recording contract of her own in 1993 after performing at an Atlantic Records party.
In 1994, when she was fifteen, her debut album, simply titled Brandy, was released. It eventually went on to sell more than four million copies, thanks partially to the hit singles “Baby” and “I Wanna Be Down.” In 1996, she became the star of the UPN network sitcom Moesha, with Brandy playing the title character. Then in 1998, she returned to music and released her sophomore album, Never Say Never, which was even more popular than her first album. Never Say Never sold more than five million copies and is best known for the hit “The Boy is Mine,” a duet with the R&B singer Monica.
During much of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Brandy focused more on acting, modeling and her personal life than music. Moesha wound up staying on the air until 2001, and after the show ended its six-year run, Brandy returned to recording music. During the making of her third album, Full Moon, Brandy became romantically involved with producer Robert Smith. The couple had a daughter named Sy’rai Iman Smith in June 2002, three months after Brandy’s third album was released. The birth itself was the subject of a four-part MTV reality series called Special Delivery.
While they were together, Smith and Norwood claimed they were married, but that later turned out to be something fabricated in order to protect Brandy’s then-wholesome image. After the relationship dissolved, both parties eventually admitted that they were never legally married. In 2003, Brandy began dating NBA player Quentin Richardson, who was at the time playing for the Los Angeles Clippers. The couple got engaged in 2004 and in that same year, Brandy’s fourth album, Afrodisiac, was released. To date, Afrodisiac has sold over half a million copies.
Two Eleven (2012) features collaborators Timbaland (Justin Timberlake, Missy Elliot, Jay-Z), Bangladesh (Ke$ha, Usher, Nicki Minaj), Mario Winans (Mariah, Puffy, Keyshia Cole ), Danja (Britney Spears, Keri Hilson, Jamie Foxx), Harmony (Rihanna, Keri Hilson, Fantasia), Hit Boy (Eminem, Lil Wayne, Kanye West), Noah 40 Shebib (Drake, Alicia Keys, Lil Wayne), along with hit making songwriters Sean Garrett (Usher, Beyonce, Britney Spears), Rico Love (Usher, Beyonce, Chris Brown), Ester Dean (Katy Perry, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera), Frank Ocean (Justin Bieber, John Legend, Tyler, the Creator), and Chris Brown, to name a few.
Ranked by the RIAA as one of the best-selling female artists in American music history, Brandy has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide, while receiving a plethora of awards, including a Grammy, an American Music Award, two Soul Train Music Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, three Billboard Awards, four MTV Awards, six Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, two Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards and three BMI Awards.