This past weekend, Brandy celebrated the 20th anniversary of her first album, Brandy. For many artists and music lovers alike, that album introduced us to a voice and talent that we'd never experienced before. Since that release, Brandy has continued to set the bar very high when it comes to vocal production and musicality.
She's rounded up a slew of fans, and some major "street" cred from her peers in the process of recording masterpieces. Bran is spoken so highly of among other artists because of the challenge that she presents vocally. She's a true singer, and sometimes that can get lost in the popular music realm, but Bran is proof you can have both.
She recently sat down with Billboard and discussed what that first album was like. Most artists attest that the first go round' is like having your first child. Bran elaborated on how in her early years she struggled with welcoming her raspy alto voice. She also went through each track and recalled the story behind them (see below).
Check out Billboards full length story HERE & congratulations again to my boo thang on 20 yrs. strong since her debut!
1. “Movin On”
“I was inspired by Whitney Houston and [gospel group] the Clark Sisters, and trying to do everything they were doing -- the runs, the range, everything. It was a soul song, and the end of that song really shows where I got my inspiration. It’s very Clark Sister-y.”
“I remember being in the studio with Keith and hearing this track, and I didn’t like it at first because I was afraid that I wasn’t old enough. But when I started to sing it, I was thinking about this guy I liked and it started to connect. That was fun. It was a cute baby crush, but I was able to pull from that feeling. Keith would say, ‘I mean for real, you can hear when you’re just trying to do vocals and it doesn’t have passion behind it. Just pull from your own life and you’ll connect more.’”
3. “Best Friend”
“That was about [my brother] Ray J. It was supposed to be a duet. That didn’t work out, but it started off that way. And it had that flute and everything, it was different. I love singing in my lowest register, that’s where I got a chance to play around with that. I loved ‘Best Friend’ because I got a chance to do my own backgrounds. I come from a church where I grew up singing a capella. So I love playing with different notes, and feeling that union with different harmonies and sounds. I love singing backgrounds more than I do lead. And this song was the first time I’d felt that feeling outside of the church.”
4. “I Wanna Be Down”
“I had to be convinced that this was the right first single, because I loved ‘Best Friend’ so much. And my lead was a challenge, because I had to do it twice. I stacked my lead to sound a little bit stronger. I loved the melody, but it took awhile for me to get why it needed to be the first connection with the fans… It felt so good hearing it on the radio that first time at Taco Bell. It felt like it belonged there.”
“It was an epic moment, as scary as it was, 20 years later because it’s a different time. It took me back to the time when were on the set. I didn’t record with the ladies in the studio, so I saw them at the video set, so seeing them again it felt like were back at the video shoot with the white background. It felt like I was 15 again. I’m this kid, performing with people that I respect and admire and look up to. I relived that moment that we were all on set was starstruck to meet all of them. I had no idea what their verses meant, what they were saying. To share that with the new generation and the old-school generation, we were all there as one. It was awesome. I can’t wait for people to see it -- just from the pictures people are freaking out. It feels really good to feel that connection again.
5. “I Dedicate (Part I)”
“I was upset! Because I wanted ‘I Dedicate’ to be a full song and they broke it up. After the album came out, that’s what the fans they were saying, ‘Why can’t ‘I Dedicate’ be a full song?’ I don’t know, I think that was a little bit of a mistake it should have been a full song.”
“The original version, I was actually on my way to Magic Mountain with some friends, and I’m like, ‘Yo I don’t wanna come to the studio. I just wanna be a kid today.’ And Keith was like, ‘No you gotta come to the studio we’re in a time crunch. We gotta get this done.’ So, I go in and because I wanna go to Magic Mountain so badly, I’m tellin’ myself, “‘Look, you gonna have to do this in one or two takes because we gotta get to this amusement park!’ I was in there for about an hour or two. But I actually like the album version better than the remix vocally, I was really focused on getting the right vocals so I could get to where I need to go.”
“Boyz II Men was my favorite, Wanya was one of my favorite singers, and we talked about doing a duet and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, we have this track for ‘Brokenhearted Remix,’ get on this. This is the one.’ We went in and we did it and it was a different vibe; I was a little more vulnerable on the track with Wanya. He’s a beast of a vocalist so I had to really come with it.”
7. “I’m Yours”
“Damon Thomas produced ‘I’m Yours.’ I loved the melody, I felt like it sounded like a huge ballad at that time. I’m not trying to put it on the same level of the ‘Greatest Love Of All’ or anything, but it sounded like that kind of song for me. And Damon Thomas was a great vocal producer because he pushed me. I was trying to do my best and give it my all, especially then because I had everything to prove.”
8. “Sunny Day”
‘Sunny Day’ was one of those songs where I had to push myself because it was so high for me, but I loved the beat, I loved how it just felt like a hip-hop track with R&B melodies and R&B verses. And I loved performing it. I remember performing it at a fair, that was a great moment, sunshine, it was outside, we did fun choreography. I remember it like it was yesterday, but I don’t think I’ve performed it since that day.”
9. “As Long As You’re Here”
“I took five or six stabs at that song. I didn’t nail it the first couple of times, so I had to go in and really try to get through that whole fear thing. My nerves were real bad.”
10. “Always On My Mind”
“That was one of my favorite songs on the album, it was one of my favorite moments it was backgrounds it was lead like a heavenly melody to that song. In fact, I just did a song with this amazing gospel group that Kirk Franklin produces and manages, The Walls Group. They’re these unbelievable kids and the information they have vocally is insane. We did a song called ‘God On My Mind’ and they took a bit of ‘Always On My Mind’ and we kind of re-did it -- it was amazing to see that song live on.”
11. “I Dedicate (Part II)”
“I’m trying to remember if it ever was a full song... No, it wasn’t because I recorded it at three different times and three different moments. If it was it would already be on iTunes for ya.”
12. “Love Is On My Side”
“Come on Robin Thicke! Another Damon Thomas production. It was vocally challenging. I needed to give everything to that song. I was a little bit intimidated because it was so musical and had drums and organs, it was a lot going on, I had to push myself to give it what it deserved. To see Robin doing well now, and still being able to do his thing and write his own songs, it’s so amazing. He was 17, writing way back when, we had some great times as artists.”
13. “Give Me You”
“This feels like a past life. It’s kind of awkward talking about yourself. But ‘Give Me You,’ that was another gospel approach, with the call and response.”
14. “I Dedicate (Part III)”
“We need another 15 to 20 anniversary to review the other ones, Full Moon, Never Say Never... I got so many stories for you, child.”