Brandy reveals her battle with depression, contemplating suicide and how her daughter saved her

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Brandy Norwood (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
Brandy Norwood (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

There’s no denying that Brandy Norwood owned the 90s, but her flourishing music and acting career took its toll on the teen superstar.

There’s no denying that Brandy Norwood owned the 90s, but her flourishing music and acting career took its toll on the teen superstar.

Interviewed ahead of the release of her new album, B7 – her first in eight years – Brandy (41) reveals that she “struggled with losing myself, in ways where I didn't feel like I could figure it out”.

Inspired by Whitney Houston, Brandy’s signature low-register voice took the music industry by storm when she released her self-titled debut album at the age of 15.

Four years later, her duet with fellow R&B singer Monica on The Boy is Mine, from her critically acclaimed second album, Never say Never, earned her a Grammy.

And as Brandy’s chart-topping music career flourished, so her did her profile as an actress.

Her starring role on the hit TV sitcom Moesha led to more acting work, including a reimagining of Cinderella with her idol, Whitney Houston, and a string of films.

Though she grew up with a strong foundation laid by her dad, gospel singer Willie Norwood, and mom Sonja, who managed her career, Brandy admits to suffering in the early years of stardom.

“I struggled with being put in a box of perfection,” she tells People.

As a role model, especially to young black girls, “I felt like my mistakes would let down everyone if I made them. I had to make the transition from being a teenager to a woman and figure out what direction I was going to go in.”

But as Brandy transformed from a teen songstress into a contemporary R&B powerhouse – pushing out chart-toppers like Full Moon, Have You Ever and What About Us – her personal life suffered.

She welcomed daughter Sy’rai with music producer Robert ‘Big Bert’ Smith in June 2002, but the couple’s relationship fizzled out shortly before their daughter’s first birthday.

Fans were shocked when Robert revealed that he and Brandy were never actually married, even though they had said they were during the filming of a reality TV show during her pregnancy.

Although she found love again, her short-lived romance with former basketball player Quentin Richards floundered after just a year.

Tragedy struck when Brandy was involved in a multi-vehicle car crash while driving home on the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles in December 2006.

According to a police report, the singer failed to slow down and her Land Rover hit the back of a Honda which was then hit by an oncoming vehicle.

The driver of the Honda, Awatef Aboudiha, a 38-year-old mother of two, died from her injuries the following day.

Though an investigation found that there was not enough evidence to charge the singer with manslaughter, the fallout saw her sink into a deep depression and what she calls, “one of the worst times of my life”.

“People would never guess the dark space that I was in … how long I was sad and depressed. It showed in my physical frame and in my eyes,” she told Oprah in 2014.

“Being involved in something that tragic...I couldn’t believe it. I don’t think that’s something I could ever get over or ever truly understand, but that was one of the worst times in my life.”

Brandy contacted Aboudiha’s loved ones but as the family tried to heal, she faced verbal attacks and harsh judgment from the public as well as slew of legal issues in the aftermath of the crash.

Aboudiha’s family later filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Brandy, which was settled out of court.

"I remember laying in bed, super depressed,” the singer says, revealing that she even contemplated suicide.

“I [told] myself, 'So, you’re just going to go out like this? That’s wack. You have a daughter. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for her because this is not the way to leave a mark in her life.’"

"If Sy'rai wasn’t here, I wouldn't be either.”

The Borderline singer – whose comeback album B7 arrived last month – also addressed her eight-year hiatus from music.

“I was a little bit lost eight years ago musically, creatively, spiritually. I had to pull myself together, I had to pull it all together and make it all make sense."

Brandy hopes her tale and renewed self-purpose will inspire fans in their own battles.

“I just want to be an example. I want to be the face of triumph,” she told The Daily Telegraph.

“That’s a story that needs to be told and told in the rawest sense. So many people can relate. Even if they can relate in terms of where I am in the end, hopefully some people in the middle can think “OK, if she can survive it, I can survive my own stuff’.”


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