Brandy Norwood has done it all, from winning a Grammy and headlining her own sitcom to even Dancing with the Stars. Now the multi-talented performer is absolutely slaying Broadway audiences by singing and dancing as Roxie Hart in Chicago: The Musical, the longest running musical on The Great White Way.
VH1 had an exclusive chat with Brandy as she approaches the end of her Broadway run. We touched on that viral video of her singing on the subway, what her next dream role would be, and what we can expect from her next album.
What’s it been like to do Broadway at this stage of your career?
Brandy: Oh my God, it’s been life changing. I have had the time of my life, to be able to come learn a different way to express myself: the dancing, the singing, the acting, and doing it all at the same time. It’s live and there are different audiences. Every night is different even though we are doing the exact same show.
Will you be back to Broadway?
Absolutely, this is something I would love to make a part of my life. I would love to do a musical or a play, once a year.
So many famous faces have played the role of Roxie Hart, what was your approach in making her your own?
The beautiful thing about the Chicago team is that they wanted my perspective. They wanted my own Roxie, they wanted it to be authentic for me. I had the freedom to discover what I wanted to bring to the character because you have to bring yourself to the character to make the character true.
We have to ask, the video of you singing “Home” from The Wiz on the subway? What was that all about? Did you ever expect it go so crazy viral?
[Laughs] I did not know that was going to happen. I started a blog called the TheNextBrandyBlog.com and it’s a place where everybody can go and see different sides of who I am. I’ve really been able to open up my different sides of my personality: my comedic side, my spontaneous side. I just decided to be spontaneous and see what it would feel like to go, incognito, on the subway, and sing a song. And nobody reacted to it.
Were you surprised that no one seemed to recognize you or your voice? The texture to your voice is pretty hard not to recognize!
I thought it was hilarious. I thought, my fans will get a kick out of this so we edited the video and put it out there, and it went viral, and I was, like, wow! My dad said, ‘Brandy, people got bills to pay. They ain’t worried about nobody singing on the subway.’ [Laughs]
You know, it’s so funny, the energy of the subway. I had gone on, once before, and I was cracking jokes and I was loud, and I was over-the-top and there was a lady sitting right next to me and she did not flinch. She was just reading her book. People are in their own space, in their mind. That’s the energy of the subway. It was the wrong train, I guess. They were not in the mood but it wouldn’t have been as magical if anybody had responded. That was the whole point in releasing the video.
There has been some speculation that you, in a way, were auditioning for NBC’s live telecast of The Wiz set to star Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige? Is there any truth to that?
I never wanted to be a part of the NBC live telecast but I have always wanted to do it for Broadway and [playing] Roxie has inspired me to do want to do more theatre. I heard this rumor that they were bringing The Wiz back to Broadway [soon] and that immediately became a dream of mine. I love Stephanie Mills, and Diana Ross and her interpretation of Dorothy, and Whitney Houston also sang “Home” a lot in her career. So all of those ladies, along with playing Roxie, really inspired me to want to be Dorothy.
Aside from theatre what is next for your career? You have a new TV show coming on BET?
Yes, it’s called Zoe Ever After, and it’s about a young lady and she’s restarting her life. She took the money from her divorce and she’s starting her own cosmetic line, and she’s a mom to a 10-year-old son. Her ex-husband is still meddling in her life, and you see her figuring stuff out, dating and trying to get over her last relationship and also run a successful cosmetics company. I think it’s going to be awesome because sitcoms are my home, they’re what I love. I played Moesha for about six years so to get another opportunity at this time is definitely a blessing. [Besides Zoe Ever After], just more music, more acting, hopefully I can do my own talk show – I’ve always dreamed of that, and more Broadway.
What’s going on with the music? What can we expect from the next Brandy album?
Well, the next album, I just want it to be completely different than anything I’ve done. I just want to sing, honestly. I just want it to be raw and just a lot of emotions and I just want to sing, sing, sing my heart out. Just R&B soulful music and that’s what I’m aiming for, that’s one of the most exciting things I have coming up.
I know, it’s kinda weird. I don’t really watch my brother on television because he’s my brother, I don’t really need to see him live out his personal life on TV because he’s my brother. Reality shows are also, sometimes, a little difficult to watch, so I don’t watch a lot but I check on him and am very close to him so I know what’s going on. I’d just rather know it than watch it.
In the past you’ve made cameos on Love & Hip Hop. Are you going to pull a pop on him to give him some of your sage wisdom again?
I have done it before and plan on popping up again because I’m his sister and that’s what I do, pop up. It’s just what I do and some of the stuff that goes on, on Love & Hip Hop it’s appropriate for me to pop up sometimes. [Laughs] So, yes, I’ll be popping up.
You can see Brandy in Chicago on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre through August 2.