Take Brandy off of your “When is she going to release new music list?” because come Friday, the singer will have officially dropped her seventh album, giving fans 15 tracks and nearly an hour’s worth of the music we’ve been craving from the “vocal bible.”
The album, B7, is a long time coming. It’s been eight years since Brandy’s last project, Two-Eleven, and she spent three years working on this new release alone.
“It feels amazing to complete this body of work,” Brandy told me in an interview. “I look back and I’m just super proud of how long the process was and to hear the songs all come together and to hear the body of work from top to bottom, it’s like wow, it’s really here. It’s really done.”
Though Brandy has never been the type of celebrity to bare it all when it comes to her personal life, be it via music, interviews, or today’s most dangerous tool, social media, this album marks a turn in the 41-year-old’s career as she opens up about life and love in a more detailed way than we’ve seen before.
“It’s a little bit scary because the album is so personal” she shared. “It is so honest, but I was inspired. I just felt like if I can’t tell my own story through my music then what am I doing it for? Music is very, very therapeutic and it just felt like it was pouring out of me… It felt like I was being led. It felt like I was following my creative flow. I’d never felt that way before. I’d never felt so sure about something before, even though it was very difficult to trust that… I still went ahead and did what I had to do and thought about it later.”
This album also marks Brandy’s debut project as an independent artist. Having co-wrote and co-produced every single song on B7, I ask how it felt to finally have complete creative control and she said, “It feels like true freedom.”
“It feels like I matter. What I feel matters, what I say matters — not what I say goes, it’s just what I say matters and it’s just great to work with people where I’m a part of it. Not that it didn’t feel like that before, but before I just didn’t feel like what I felt mattered or I felt shut down in some places. I would get overlooked and it doesn’t feel like that anymore and that feels amazing. It feels amazing to matter.”
Knowing the tendency people have to see song titles and assign meaning to them that may or may not be accurate (myself included), I asked Brandy about the album’s lead single “Baby Mama.” After I recounted the backlash that came when Fantasia released her track of the same name in 2004 in an effort to reclaim the title, Brandy said, “I’m doing the same thing, just reclaiming it because I love being a mother.”
She added, “I love how I feel about my daughter and I love being able to be inspired by her to keep thriving in my dreams and keep thriving in my life. I always hear baby mama being taken like a negative thing, a negative connotation and I wanted to bring something positive to that because, like I said, I just feel so great being her mom, and it’s not always negative. I’m not about the drama. I’m really about setting a positive light for my daughter. I’m really about providing and doing what I have to do for her and I think there are a lot of moms out there that are like that that don’t get the credit they deserve.”
Under normal circumstances, the release of this album would’ve coincided with a huge promotional push. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has halted those plans for now, though Brandy still has hopes of giving fans an opportunity to experience her raspy vocals in person.
“When this whole thing lifts and the world gets back to normal I would love to get out there and see people on the stage.”
Thinking over the exceptional career she’s had as an entertainer and the longevity she’s had as an artist, I asked Brandy what else she hopes to accomplish and she shared her desire to do a musical about her life. “I loved Chicago, it changed my life. That really woke me up all the way. I started dreaming again after Chicago.”
Having seen Brandy in the 2015 production in which she made her Broadway debut, I have a followup about what made that experience so life-changing. “The music, the live theater,” she said. “It was a freedom that I had never experienced before and it was everything that I love to do all in one — singing, acting, dancing. That’s what makes me want to do a musical about my life. It’s a dream.”