Like singer/actresses such as Madonna or Cher, Brandy is recognized immediately by her first name or even by the name "Moesha," because of her hit '90s sitcom on the UPN channel.
Among her hits is "The Boy Is Mine" with Monica, which made them the most successful song by a female duo in music history. She did the reality-show circuit, beginning with America's Got Talent and then a show with her brother, Ray J, for VH1; she later competed on Dancing with the Stars.
Brandy's latest album, Two Eleven, has her working with such talents as Frank Ocean and Chris Brown. New acting projects include a recurring role on BET's The Game and the new Tyler Perry film Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.
Windy City Times: Happy New Year, Brandy. I saw you performed at Dick Clark's New Year's Rocking Eve.
Brandy: That was a lot of fun. I haven't done that in a long time. I got to get on that stage and do some of my favorite songs from the new album.
WCT: Will this be similar to your [Jan. 19] concert at [Horseshoe] Casino, maybe backup dancers like that?
Brandy: Yeah, it will be my band and dancers. We are going to put on a show for you guys out there. I get very nervous before a performance, especially a place I haven't been to in the past. Once I'm on the stage, something happens and we are able to spin that magic. I can't wait to see everybody face to face. I'm really connected to my fans in that way so I'm excited about it.
WCT: On the new album it seemed very personal, with songs like "Without You."
Brandy: Oh, yeah; all of the my songs are personal, every last one of them. I've either gone through it firsthand or things have happened to me in my past that I've experienced that I had to conjure it up again for the song. Pretty much they are the sound track to my life, if it was recent or even way back to my past.
WCT: The title Two Eleven refers to your birthday and to the day Whitney Houston passed away.
Brandy: Yes, and like my rebirth.
WCT: Was there a song that was directed to Whitney's passing on the album?
Brandy: Not necessarily on the album. My tribute to Whitney Houston is what I do with my lifejust with the things that she taught me or shared. It is being everything an artist is supposed to be. I have a responsibility. Sometimes when you get caught up in your personal life and the things going around you then you forget that you have a responsibility. It is about sharing and doing music, to entertain and make people feel good, to make them feel they are not alone. That's another responsibility of mine as well. I have to live up to that. I promised that I would do that.
WCT: The first time I heard your single with Chris Brown, "Put It Down," it was performed by a drag queen! [Both laugh.]
Brandy: Wow, I love that.
WCT: You have tons of gay fans.
Brandy: Oh, I know that. I love my gay fans. They are awesome.
WCT: For the new year, you have the Tyler Perry movie coming out.
Brandy: I do. That's in March. I saw the trailer for that. It just looks so deep and spicy. I can't wait to see it. I will definitely have to watch it alone because I don't like to watch myself in front of other people. I'm anxious to see it, though. I have that and The Game in March, so I have two things happening.
WCT: Would you ever do more reality television or are you done with that for a while?
Brandy: [Sighs] I just think reality TV and me don't really mix. Reality TV today is just so entertaining and you really have to have your Jerry Springer on with these shows today. You have to be ready to fight, throw, kick, scream and holler. People really try to get the ratings or whatever, so I don't think reality is for me. I think it is so much more interesting when I play someone other than myself.
WCT: You could even do the judging, like you did on America's Got Talent.
Brandy: That I would do. I would love to be a part of someone's journey and their path. To give advice after some of the things that I've gone through to share with them and to help them better their life and further their career. That would be awesome. I would love to do something like that. My dream is American Idol. I love that show. I watch a lot of the positive shows on reality television, like Mary Mary and La La's Full Court Life. There are some great reality shows that don't require you to do all the fighting and stuff.
WCT: Let's play the Nunn's Name Game with a one-word answer on working with people from your past.
Brandy: Okay, let me get my vocabulary ready…
WCT: So ... Diana Ross.
Brandy: Oh my God! Can I just say "oh my God" for Diana Ross?
WCT: Sure. Usher.
Brandy: One word is hard for me because it's a sentence! It was fun and competitive.
WCT: Chaka Khan.
Brandy: I was in shock! I was starstruck by her.
WCT: Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Brandy: Exciting. I loved I Know What You Did Last Summer before the one we did so I was excited to work with her.
WCT: Frank Ocean.
Brandy: Challenging. He's so particular about everything so he's challenging, and I liked that.
WCT: Last one: Monica.
Brandy: Interesting. [Both laugh.]
Come play at the casino with Brandy Saturday, Jan. 19. Head past the slots and the buffet to The Venue at 777 Casino Center Drive, Hammond, Ind. Visit www.horseshoehammond.com for tickets and information.