Brandy Norwood has been sprinkling Black girl magic on us for nearly three decades. She is renowned for her pristine vocals and stellar acting abilities. Whether she was singing her heart out on songs like “Sitting In My Room,” hilariously navigating teenage life as Moesha, breaking hearts on Broadway in Chicago as Disney’s first Black Cinderella, this triple threat has paved the way for the Kekes, Chloes, Haileys, Yaras and countless other little Black girls with aspirations of taking the stage and gracing the big screen.
The Grammy winner’s extensive music career includes seven solo albums and several collaborations with talents such as Gladys Knight, Toni Braxton, Kelly Rowland, John Legend and Monica. Her voice is a mixture of airy tones, rich textures and impeccable runs that have earned her the title of “The Vocal Bible.”
Audiences were first introduced to this starlet in 1993, when she played Danesha Turell on the ABC series, Thea. The following year she released her first self- titled album. With songs like “I Wanna Be Down” and “Brokenhearted,” this album is a coming-of-age soundtrack for many.
Brandy recently returned to her ABC roots in the hit television series Queens, a musical dramedy that highlights an all-girl hip hop group seeking to jumpstart their careers after a twenty-year hiatus. MADAMENOIRE sat down with Brandy to discuss her role as the character Naomi.
MADAMENOIRE: Congratulations on your new show. I’ve been watching and I have been thoroughly enjoying it. How did you get involved with this project?
Brandy: Thank you. I got a call from the creators, Zahir McGhee and Sabrina Wind. I met with them, and we had such great chemistry. When [Zahir] was telling me about the idea of this supergroup coming back together, my heart was pumping because I’ve always wanted to do television where I can do everything that I can do in one role. I loved Broadway. I love the way I felt there. So, I wanted to do that on television. I was already in before I read the script. Now I am in this group that encompasses hip hop and singing. It’s all divine.
You and Naomi have a lot in common. You are both musicians and mothers to young adult daughters who are following in your footstep. Was this intentional?
It wasn’t intentional. It was supernatural. Every one of us has something in common with our character. So, it was almost like it was meant to be. This is why I love it so much. I’m giving myself to this role and I’m giving everything I’ve ever experienced in this music industry. All the love I have for my daughter, I’m trying to put it into the love I have for [Naomi’s daughter] Jojo. Everything that I have in my life, I’m just trying to share it with Naomi, because I think it makes it authentic.
You have a love interest on this show. Is this true to life?
In real life? Nah. I only have love on television. I have self-love. I told my momma I want to have a ceremony and marry myself. I love my focus, I love my drive and being emotionally available for my 19-year-old. I love my love interest on television. I love working with Taylor Sele. He’s amazing.
What makes this show so special is the music. There is music we all know and love, but new songs are created every episode. Are you involved in selecting or creating the music?
I’m not really involved in selecting the music, but I do give my opinion on what I want to do vocally with the songs. They are so open to that. I don’t really need to do much because Swizz Beatz is the one! Zhair McGhee is a hip-hop head. So, they know what the show needs. It’s the rapping for me. That’s all I want to do is rap.
It is everything. Brandy got bars and I want a whole album.
Are you serious? I would love to do that. I’ve dibbled and dabbled back in the day and people weren’t trying to give me no shine. So you think I could come out with something this time and people would feel it?
I think so, especially after seeing you on this show. That rap battle between Eve and yourself– oh my God! It was so good. Yes, we are ready.
Good because I really want to incorporate it into my music, I really do.
Speaking of music, one of my favorite moments in the show is when you sang “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. I’m not even exaggerating when I say this: The feeling I got when I heard you sing this song was the same one I got the first time I heard Whitney sing “I Will Always Love You.”
That’s too much. No one can compare to Whitney. That’s such a beautiful thing to say. Thank you.
You’re welcome. I’m not alone in my sentiments because Twitter went crazy at that moment. I replayed that scene a hundred times. I want to talk about that epic Verzuz between Monica and yourself. When it was announced, we lost our minds. Did you expect that?
I lost my mind too! I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know who was going to watch and what people were going to think. I just knew that it was a celebration and it wasn’t about being competitive. It wasn’t about that. I was so down to do it and Monica was too. When I first approached Monica for “The Boy is Mine” it was because I was a fan and I wanted to work with her. That’s the spirit in which the song was created. I wanted the Verzuz to feel the same way. I had a great time that night, I didn’t want it to end. Ray Jay and my family were backstage, Monica’s people were backstage, it was great.
What an amazing night to see the two of you come together in the spirit of healing, sisterhood and music. It was beautiful.
We need more of that.
Absolute. Speaking of Ray Jay, one thing I have always admired about you is how close you are to your family. Do you think that’s what keeps you grounded in this industry?
My family keeps me grounded. I also have spiritual practice. I journal every day. I write affirmative prayers. That keeps me grounded. I must have sanity to do what I love and to be the best version of myself to the people that I love. Humility is where I am rooted. I haven’t always been in this place, and I didn’t like the way that it felt. I like being grounded, it’s the best feeling ever.
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