Brandy at the 2013 ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans.

Michael Rowe

"I was so excited and so anxious," said Brandy of her first ESSENCE Festival performance. 

Yolanda Sangweni
Jul, 06, 2013

It's hard to believe that after a 19-year career, this was Brandy's first performance at the ESSENCE Festival. The recently-engaged Grammy winner was ready for the momentous challenge of singing in front of a sold-out audience at the Superdome. "I was so excited and so anxious," she tells "Every emotion you can think of was in my body." Brandy also performed a tribute to her mentor Whitney Houston, singing hits like "I'm Your Baby Tonight" and "I Wanna Dance with Somebody."

"I wouldn't be the artist I am if it weren't for her influence," she said.