Respect Unto Thee: Why Brandy Is A Black Music Gem And The Soundtrack To Our Millennial Lives
Brandy was incredibly young, Black and talented, and for the first time for many of us, we were able to celebrate what all of that meant.
October 28, 2019 at 5:59 pm
It has come to my attention that people really don't know what "amazing" singing sounds like. I could credit this to many things in our current pop culture, but mainly the sheer randomness of sound that is looped by the hour on mainstream radio.
One of the more defining moments for me that cemented the ineptitude of discerning beautiful sound is when I first started to hear the shade thrown toward the sheer beauty in the voice of the one and only Brandy Norwood.
So two things have to be addressed here:
1. The horrific misconceptions of Brandy's immaculate voice.
2. The complete and utter disregard for the legacy that she has created for Black music.
It has been 25 years since the release of Brandy's self-titled debut album. Many of us were around to witness the phenomenon of the young Black girl with braids belting out the lyrics of "I Wanna Be Down" as we sat mesmerized by the image — it was unlike anything we had ever seen before. She was 15 and stood before us with what became her signature "Brandy braids" as she released hit after hit from her debut album (which included, "I Wanna Be Down," "Baby," "Best Friend" and "Brokenhearted") with extraordinary grace under the pressure of fame. We loved her so much that she went on to star in her own TV show (Moesha), released her follow-up album, Never Say Never, was featured in hit movies, received a Cover Girl contact and had a Barbie created in her own image. Most of this was achieved before she even turned 18.
It almost seems normal now to accomplish what she did in the '90s. It was not. Brandy was incredibly young, Black and talented, and for the first time for many of us, we were able to celebrate what all of that meant.
To this day, Brandy is widely considered your favorite singer's singer. She has been crowned the literal vocal Bible and didn't stop being a talent to be reckoned with although she isn't heard as often on mainstream radio. Brandy has perfected her craft throughout all 25 of these years and has not stopped pushing to make it better every day. And for anyone who has ever seen her live, you can testify to her voice sounding like actual liquid butter. It is an experience, chile!
We, as a people, have a ridiculously poor memory and this is reflected in what can often be seen on social media outlets. The internet has found ways to harp on foolishness and hold onto it like a dog with a bone, keeping a blip in life at the front of the conversation instead of what is important. (Y’all know what I’m talking about.)
People are not flawless, even the famous ones.
However, it has become the cool thing to say, "they not making those hits, though." It's a dangerous path to go down, as the greats in our culture are almost forgotten about. Imagine if we had ever dared to state that Aretha, Gladys, Patti or Anita were no longer dope because we hadn't seen them in awhile. I shudder at the mere thought!
It's crazy to consider, but we are the ones responsible for protecting the integrity of Black musical legacies, just as our parents did and just as our grandparents did before them. If y'all are really cringing at these sounds bombarding us on the radio, it's time we start to take the task seriously, and give them their flowers and respect while they are here. And please believe, the gift that is Brandy Norwood is right at the tippy top of that list.