After spending the four years since 2008′s “Human” (Epic Records) largely away from the recording booth — save for a brief foray into rap, under the name Bran’Nu – Brandy Norwood is making a return to her R&B roots on the melodic, vocal-driven “Two Eleven,” which arrives Oct. 16 on RCA/Chameleon Records.
The project is the first under the singer/actor’s new deal with RCA/Chameleon. After “Human” disappointed commercially, debuting at No. 15 on the Billboard 200 chart and selling just 214,000 copies to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan, Brandy exited longtime home Epic in 2009, shortly after Amanda Ghost joined the label as president. Ghost, who left Epic in late 2010, declined to comment.
“I’ve been trying to find myself, musically,” says Brandy, who returned to TV during the hiatus (she had starred in the hit TV series “Moesha” from 1996 to 2001). She appeared alongside her brother Ray J, also a singer, in VH1′s “Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business” (and delivered the companion album A Family Business), and in fall 2010, Brandy competed on “Dancing With the Stars.”
“At one point I thought I wouldn’t get another chance,” she says. “You get those thoughts when you take time off, [like], ‘Is it over? It’s never going to happen again.’ [But] the four years wasn’t really my fault. If it were up to me I would do music every day. I didn’t have a backing, a home, a deal. In that time I was able to meet with RCA, get a deal with them and figure out what I wanted to do musically. It’s working out perfect because now, with Two Eleven, it’s everything that I want.”
The road back to her recording career began in August 2011, when Chameleon founder Breyon Prescott signed Brandy to a joint venture between RCA and Chameleon 18 months after seeing her perform at RnB Live Hollywood. “I saw an opportunity to take something that’s so precious and bring it back to the music business,” says Prescott, who’s worked with Angie Stone and Jamie Foxx. “When I saw her perform, she performed like she had a chip on her shoulder. I think she felt like the industry had given up on her.”
Read more: Erika Ramirez, Billboard