When Brandy entered the music spectrum in 1994 she wanted to be down. Fast forward nearly twenty years and she's singing a similar tune, "Put It Down." Today she's releasing her sixth studio album, Two Eleven. Despite suffering a major loss this year — the death of her idol and mentor Whitney Houston — Brandy's voice, dance moves and attitude are as crisp and fierce as ever. If her recent TV performances are any indication, she's got a lot more fire and flame to show the world.
ESSENCE.com caught up with the mother of one to discuss her new album, her plans for the future, and whether she and super-hunky boyfriend, Ryan Press, are planning for babies in the near future?
ESSENCE.com: Looking at Two Eleven in comparison to your previous albums, what does it say about who you are today?
BRANDY: I don't know if it describes who I am. It's more about what I've seen and what I've been through. I think this album is a lot more fun than my previous work. But all of my songs have always been about love. Even when I didn't even know what love was, I was singing about love. But my voice has changed. My tone and my expression has changed. You can hear the depth and the tone of voice. It's just I've been through some things, ups and downs. Even when I'm talking you can hear it. I think it is more about that then anything else.
ESSENCE.com: You've been doing a lot more dancing in your recent TV performances. I think people are really responding to that.
BRANDY: It's been great just working with Frank Gaston and his team. I've been stepping my game up. I really want to be a great entertainer one day and get over my stage fright to make the stage like my second home. That's really been a challenge for me. Doing Dancing with the Stars really awakened that. You can't go wrong when you let loose, so I've just been trying to do something different. Actually, do what I started to do when I first came in the business. I was dancing in the middle of Times Square. I wasn't as good as Aaliyah or Janet but I had my own little moves. I wanted to discover what that was again and do choreography that fits me and my body so I won't embarrass myself.
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ESSENCE.com: So do you have plans to take this on tour?
BRANDY: I do. It's time. It's really time to see my fans face to face. I mean they go crazy. The love is so overwhelming when I do perform. I just did a couple of performances, one in DC and one in Philly, and all the love made me think, "Alright I need to postpone this and go on tour." But I am trying to balance the acting (Brandy currently stars in The Game) with music. So it's just about prepping and preparing to go back at the same time.
ESSENCE.com: It may be hard to believe, but you've been around for nearly 20 years. Is there anything left for you to accomplish?
BRANDY: I want to keep doing my thing in music. I definitely want to continue my passion for acting. I really want to do Broadway! It is calling me. Not yet [laughs]. I have work to do in the other areas of my life. I would love to play someone like Josephine Baker. I would say Nippy, but I don't know if I can sing "I Will Always Love You" every night on Broadway. I just don't see that happening! Or someone with a story that can inspire where you see the struggle but you also see the triumph.
ESSENCE.com: We know you're in love! Do you want more kids?
BRANDY: I do! I want to know what it's like to be a mom to a boy. I hear boys love their mom. My daughter is crazy about me. If it can get any better than this, I just want to see! Then my boyfriend [Ryan Press] is really cute. So I want to see how the boys will look. I want them to look like me but have his polish and his finish.
Additional Reporting by Cori Murray