|Brandy Will Always Love You|
Singer talks gay following, her zero tolerance for hate and why Frank Ocean’s coming out is a ‘gift’
The ’90s wouldn’t have been the same without Brandy. The plucky then-teen, who was just 16 when she released her 1994 debut, dominated the charts with an iconic run of hits: “I Wanna Be Down,” “Have You Ever” and her diva-off with Monica, “The Boy is Mine,” a song so abiding that even Glee couldn’t resist a cover.
But with a starring role in Moesha, debuting in 1996, the cross-pollinating performer quickly made it clear that she wanted to conquer not just music but acting, too. Later that decade, she’d star in Cinderella with Whitney Houston.
Brandy’s relationship with the legendary icon, and the tragedy of her death last year, is evoked in the title of Brandy’s latest album, Two Eleven, eerily representing the day Houston died and also Brandy’s birthday.
Now 33 and recently engaged, Brandy opened up about those early years as a tomboy, how she can still channel heartbreak despite her happiness and why her gay audience is, as she says, “the best audience.”
Can you believe it’s been almost 20 years since you released your self-titled debut?
Oh my lord. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. I remember doing the photo shoot for the album like it’s yesterday. I have so many memories of doing the first album and working with some of the producers that I worked with, and being in the middle of Times Square doing the video (for “Baby”). I remember certain things about that album like it was yesterday.
And how about those clothes? You were such a tomboy then.
I was! I was a tomboy. I still am sometimes. Boys are fun. (Laughs) It’s fun, you know, wearing the boots and the baggy clothes – and the hat! Back then baggy clothes on a girl were so cute. If you didn’t have baggy clothes, you were not hot.
Besides your fashion evolution, how else have you changed between that album and Two Eleven?
With the first album I was just a teenager trying to find my way. Now I’m a woman and I know very much who I am, but I have not lost that innocence and that shy part of who I am. I’m still very shy. You would be shocked to find out that I’m still stage fright, and although I will talk to anybody I meet – I’ll have a full conversation with them – there are still some things that make me shy and bashful. I never wanna lose that. I never wanna lose the part of me that I had when I first started – you know, the humble side. You always wanna be appreciative, and I think I’m more that now because of my struggle and because of everything that I’ve been through. I’m appreciative for every little thing that comes my way – even this conversation, to bring awareness to me and my music is a blessing.