Honoring Singer Brandy For Women's History Month

In honor of Women's History Month, I wanted to highlight one woman as a drastically impactful female pioneer. As a musician, and a lover of popular culture, I have to note Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Brandy (Brandy Norwood) as a woman who has positively influenced me. But as usual – despite her undeniable credibility as an entertainer and musical influencer - I can virtually hear the responses of confusion. “Brandy?? Why, Brandy?” Cool. Let me school you.

Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

I’ve studied music and vocal performance since I was a small child, and continued to do so throughout my academic career at Howard University where I minored in jazz vocal performance. When I think of vocalists who have depth, range, and color that I like to mirror, Brandy is always one to note. Let’s start with the fact that, in her early years, Brandy – a 15 year old – successfully mirrored the impeccable vocal stylings of the late Whitney Houston. This is a feat that most adult singers cannot achieve. As Brandy matured, so did her voice. Her debut effort, “Brandy,” gave us a new school twist on beloved Whitney Houston vocal techniques. Then, she moved into a creating a signature sound with super-producer Rodney Jerkins where she showcased nasal, yet attractively smoky, deliveries. However, it wasn’t until her third album, “Full Moon,” that we saw Brandy and her then musical counterpart, Rodney Jerkins, move into creating edgy R&B music that showed off both Jerkins’ innovative sound paired with Brandy’s more mature vocals with signature rifts that a wide variety of today’s artists have merged into their own styles.

Flash forward to 2017, where we’ve seen Brandy deliver three more full-length LP’s with quite a few notable singles (i.e. 2004’s “Talk About Our Love,” 2008’s “Right Here (Departed),” 2012’s “Without You, and 2016’s “Beggin’ and Pleadin’”) that highlight how her vocal delivery has stretched to become an undeniable, multi-dimensional powerhouse alto. Now, the commercial success of her latest efforts have admittedly been less than stellar – for reasons which we do not have time to discuss in this particular blog – but that has absolutely no bearing on the fact that Brandy has remained consistent as a vocalist who becomes stronger with every release.

So, why Brandy? She taught me how to insert subtleties into my recording and performances that leave lasting impressions on audiences. After having been through what was considered “her prime,” she showed me that it is never too late to become stronger with a strategic re-invention of the body, mind, and soul (i.e. her 2016 role as “Roxie Hart” in the Broadway play, “Chicago” which saw the singer undergo strenuous physical training). She showed me that even when people doubt your gift, you must continue to use it to magnify that magic that resides in you - something that no opinion or doubting whisper can take away. She taught me that when those doubting whispers become screams that you can’t ignore, to let your experiences and accomplishments speak for themselves. For me, it’s about the music - but more importantly – it’s about the consistency, determination, and self-assurance; character traits that can literally cause a “night-and-day” effect in the course one’s life.

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