Brandy Norwood - Biography & Career
Norwood was born in McComb, Mississippi and raised in Carson, California. Her father, Willie Ray Norwood, was a pastor and choir director, and by the age of two, she was singing at his church. Her mother, Sonja Bates, is a cousin of legendary blues singer Bo Diddley. Brandy became a fan of Whitney Houston, and she told her father that she wanted to be a singer, like Houston. At the age of four, Brandy moved to California with her family, where she began her artistic career singing at talent shows in 1990. At 11, she met a record producer who took her to various record companies and led her to backup singing jobs with two groups: Norment and the more successful Immature.
When Brandy was 14, she was able to land a record deal with Atlantic Records, and in 1994 her first album, Brandy, was released, reaching gold status in less than two months, and Quadruple Platinum status soon after. The album contained the gold certified singles "I Wanna Be Down," and Brokenhearted, as well as the platinum certified single "Baby," and made her an MTV star throughout 1995 and into early 1996. Awards started to come soon after. In the fall of 1995 she attended the Billboard Music Awards taking home the awards for "Best New R&B Artist" and "Best R&B Female". At the 1996 MTV Movie Awards she eclipsed a category that comprised U2, Whitney Houston and Seal to win the "Best Song From A Movie" award for "Sittin' up in My Room". She was nominated for a 1996 "Best New Artist" Grammy and "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" Grammy Award, also for her smash hit "Baby". Between 1995 and 1996, she won a total of seven Soul Train and Soul Train 'Lady of Soul' Music Awards, including categories like "Best New Artist," "Best R&B/Soul Artist, Female," "Best R&B/Soul Song of The Year,". At the 2nd annual Lady of Soul Awards, Brandy was also honored with the Aretha Franklin Award for Entertainer of the Year in 1996. Also at the 1996 Japan Music Awards, Brandy brought home the award for "Best International New Artist".
In 1996, she recorded a duet with rock star Lenny Kravitz for the Batman Forever soundtrack, penned and produced by Kravitz. Also that year, a remix of her fourth single, "Brokenhearted" with Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men, stormed into the top 10 of the Billboard singles charts. Towards the end of that year, she contributed a song to the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack, which yielded "Sittin' up in My Room", a platinum selling smash hit single that inhabited the top of the Pop charts throughout early 1996.
Later in 1996, Brandy teamed up with Tamia, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight, for the single "Missing You," released from the Set It Off soundtrack. Even with the superstar lineup, it was Brandy's least successful single yet, but was still a moderate hit, and peaked in the top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart. The song won a Grammy nomination in the "Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals" category.