On this day in comedy on February 11, 1979 comedic Actress, Recording Artist, Brandy Rayana Norwood was born in McComb, Mississippi!
The multi-talented Brandy made her comedy debut as a young teenager on the ground-breaking ABC sitcom, Thea starring comedienne, Thea Vidale. The show only lasted one season, but it was good experience. The next time out Brandy showcased her talents in her own sitcom; the UPN hit, Moesha with William Allen Young and Sheryl Lee Ralph. Originally ordered by CBS, the conservative network passed. That forced Moesha to drive up ratings elsewhere. On the show, Brandy played a teenager dealing with growing up and doing it with a stepmother. Moesha lasted for 6 seasons, making it one of the longest running Black sitcoms in television history. It also has the distinction of putting a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Youth Actress on Brandy’s mantle. The show was so popular it spun-off The Parkers starring Mo’Nique, Yvette Wilson and Countess Vaughn.
Once Moesha went off the air Brandy stayed busy as an actress. She had a recurring role on One on One playing the TV sister to her real-life brother, Ray J. She guest starred on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Reba, Raising Dad, Drop Dead Diva and The Soul Man. Brandy was a lead on BET’s long running, The Game and won a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. In 2016 her sitcom, Zoe Ever After debuted on BET.
When not playing television leads and guest starring on sitcoms, Brandy has done animation voice-overs (Jungle Cubs, Osmosis Jones), film (The Perfect Match) and Broadway (Chicago). She’s been on over a half dozen reality TV shows playing herself and Mattel released three versions of a Brandy doll to overwhelming success (it was one of their top sellers ever). Brandy was a judge on America’s Got Talent, danced on Dancing with the Stars and was the first Black female to play Cinderella. She’s a philanthropist; co-founding The Norwood Kid’s Foundation (along with brother Ray J) helping disadvantaged children in Los Angeles and Mississippi and she’s an in demand commercial spokeswoman.
Brandy has also managed to fit in an enviable career as a one of the top singers of her generation. The contralto’s unique vocal style influenced the likes of Jordin Sparks, Tank, JoJo, Olivia, Jessie J, Bridget Kelly, Teyana Taylor, Elle Varner and Emeli Santé. Her album Full Moon is revered; the new template for the contemporary way of singing and gained her the nickname of “Vocal Bible”; the architect of 21st Century R&B vocals. With such respect from peers she’s produced/written for artists such as Toni Braxton, Kelly Rowland and Kiley Dean. Brandy has released 6 albums and sold over 40 million records worldwide. She’s won over 100 awards including a Grammy, 3 American Music Awards, 7 Billboard Music Awards, 4 Soul Train Awards, a Blockbuster Entertainment Award and a MTV Movie Award. Everything proving that most people with a sense of humor are talented in other areas as well.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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