(Interview conducted by Najah Renee)
Grammy award winning singer Brandy was the recent headliner for the annual Global Fusion Festival in Philadelphia, which featured R&B newcomers Elle Varner, Luke James and underground hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar. Brandy performed as part of a national promotion tour for her upcoming album 2/11. As Brandy performed there was no doubt that her presence in the music industry has been missed. In between performances of hit songs like “I Wanna Be Down,” “Baby”, and “Best Friend” chants of “BRANDY” where echoed throughout the venue, as hundreds of fans passed the soft spoken singer roses, love letters and cd’s for her to sign. Brandy felt the apparent energy of the crowd and was not afraid to show it during her performance. The singer occasionally passed her microphone into the audience allowing them to sing along to their favorite tunes. The Brandy that we all have grown to know and love was back. I caught up with the veteran singer to discuss everything from music, family and her new found love.
NAJAH RENEE: What is the meaning behind the album 2/11/?
BRANDY: It is the day that I was born, and the day that Whitney passed, so that is my way of giving tribute to her. I just promised her that I would dedicate my life to my music and to live my life on purpose. I am going to give tribute to her for the rest of my life.
NAJAH RENEE: What was the recording process like for this album and how was it working with Frank Ocean?
BRANDY: Frank Ocean is a genius. He is definitely a gift to the world, a gift to my project. He is great to work with. I always had a great chemistry with him. The album in general, I was able to work with great writers like Sean Garrett and Ester Dean, and Bangladesh. It’s just great to be back doing R&B again. The core of R&B is the album.
NAJAH RENEE: What part of your love life will we hear on the album?
BRANDY: It’s all over the album. Music for me is therapeutic. Whatever, I‘m going through in my life, I try to sing about because music is supposed to come from an honest place. I’m definitely celebrating the fact that love has entered my life in a very positive way.
NAJAH RENEE: Will you rapper alter ego Brand Nu make an appearance on the album? No the rapping is resting in peace. Forever.
NAJAH RENEE: What chapter of your life do you think that the album 2/11 represents?
BRANDY: The last couple of years is what the album represents. Sometimes I don’t just sing my story, but other people’s story. What I see other people go through and what other people can relate to. It’s definitely a celebration of me coming into my own as a woman. Celebrating the love that’s in my life.
NAJAH RENEE: You recently performed during the 2012 BET Awards. Are there any plans to do any more covers of your idol?
BRANDY: I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it. That was one of the hardest things that I decided to do was the BET Awards. I’m still not over it and getting through it. That’s the reason why I chose the songs that I sung, (uptempo songs) because I didn’t feel like I could get through a ballad or anything like that.
NAJAH RENEE: There were talks about a Brandy and Monica tour is that something that fans can look forward to?
BRANDY: I’m open to it, but right now I am really focused on making sure the album comes out on October 2nd.
NAJAH RENEE: Do you prefer music or acting?
BRANDY: I like them both. They both give me a different feeling. I have a passion for music, music is me. Acting is more of a challenge because I have to bring more of a reality and a truth to a character that really doesn’t exist. That’s more artistic for me in that area, but singing I don’t have to practice as much. It comes natural, but the acting is a little more harder.
NAJAH RENEE: How have you been able to balance family, acting and music?
BRANDY: I think I was born to do this, so the balance happens naturally. I have a lot of support from my family. There is a lot of understanding that this is what I am supposed to do, but then again it’s about finding quality time with those that you love and fans. It works itself out.
NAJAH RENEE: Did you ever think that in 2012 that you would still be relevant?
BRANDY: Not at all. I never think of it in that way. I always try to be in the moment as much as possible, but I can just tell you that coming back now I feel like a brand new artist. Like everything that has happened before hasn’t happened, (her success) and I’m really just blessed to really be here and to share. The crowd tonight was just unbelievable. I’m glad because I think if it was a thing where I knew (being arrogant) then I wouldn’t have appreciated and I wouldn’t feel humble. It’s just weird to not know. I can really take it all in and receive it and love it, and be like Oh My God this is happening. I’m at that place now.
NAJAH RENEE: How have you been able to maintain your identity in an ever changing music industry?
BRANDY: I have a great family. I have normal friends. My daughter loves me for me. I think it’s about keeping that normal energy around you and I know who I am. I had a chance to take a break from it all, and really get in touch with myself. I do a lot of self work. I read a lot of self help books and apply all of the positive energy into my life. It’s really important for me to be a good person, and be someone that people want to be around.