Brandy Norwood, the 1990s pop star known simply as Brandy, is bringing her years of experience to the stage in Washington, D.C., as Roxie in the musical “Chicago” this month at the Kennedy Center.
At just 37, Brandy has already had quite a life, but she said the stardom and wealth had a cost.
“I left the business for quite some time because my life was going like this,” she said, making a rollercoaster with her hand. “And I wanted something real. I was craving for the real self.”
Brandy earned fame in the mid-1990s as a teenage pop star and star of the TV show “Moesha” for six seasons. She went quadruple platinum with her debut album at 16.
But the stardom wore her down.
“I didn’t have a normal childhood because I grew up in the public eye,” she said. “Even though I accomplished a lot, I didn’t really know who I was.”
Brandy comes to the Kennedy Center fresh off a Broadway production of “Chicago,” imbuing the character Roxie with a wisdom that comes with age.
“I just love the emotions she goes through,” Brandy said. “She’s a dreamer, and no matter what her circumstance is, she dreams.”
Brandy has been very public with her depression after her involvement in a fatal car crash.
“There was a time in my life where I stopped dreaming, and I was able to pick myself up from that crazy mental place, and I started to affirm that I’m attracting something big,” she said.
Brandy has a 14-year-old daughter -- the same age she was when she entered showbiz -- but she said her daughter will not follow her footsteps because she wants her to have a normal childhood.
Brandy has gone viral with her friend, actress Jenifer Lewis, with their impromptu vocal sessions recorded at Lewis’ home. It has 5 million views.
“I was very surprised it went viral,” Brandy said. “We were just playing around. I was saying this phrase, ‘In these streets,’ and I’m like it’s just a phrase and she’s like, let’s make a song about it.”
Brandy’s run at the Kennedy Center is brief – she is appearing through April 16 – but she said she will savor every moment of it.