- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2002

NEW YORK — When Brandy plops down on a chair in her hotel suite, preparing for a morning of picture-taking and interviews, a sour look suddenly comes over her face.

It's not the day ahead that's upsetting her; it's the baby inside.

"The baby's turning, and it's making me queasy," the 23-year-old singer-actress says, rubbing her protruding belly. A newlywed, she's expecting her first child, a girl, in July.

The image of a grown-up Brandy as wife and mother is something new for those who remember her as the teen-ager who rose to musical stardom with such fluffy hits as "Sittin' up In My Room," "Baby" and the Grammy-winning "The Boy Is Mine" or recall her as the good-girl title character in UPN's first sitcom, "Moesha."

Besides taking on new family duties, the singer has returned to the limelight with a new album, "Full Moon," which showcases her evolution into a young woman. The trademark braids are gone, and her look is sexier. (In the video for the disc's first hit, "What About Us," she wears tight leather and a plunging neckline.)

"She's not a goofy teen-ager anymore she's a beautiful woman," says Emil Wilbekin, editor in chief at Vibe, which features her on its April cover.

Whereas Brandy once talked like a schoolgirl, now she speaks with confidence and authority. She says she finally feels comfortable in her own skin.

"I was very dependent on people, and there was a certain part of me that didn't want to be dependent anymore," she says. "I was very clinging, and I needed to just be my own person. I wavered in my decisions; I people-pleased. I was very insecure."

Brandy Norwood first gained recognition at 14 as the smart, sassy daughter on the short-lived ABC sitcom "Thea." When that was canceled after one season, the child star turned to her first love singing and scored instant success with a self-titled album that went platinum and helped create the teen music craze in the late '90s.

Soon, Brandy would have another television show, this time centered on her. "Moesha," which in later years featured her brother, singer-actor Ray J, debuted on UPN in 1995 and ran for five years. It created a spinoff hit, "The Parkers," and furthered Brandy's visibility as a household name.

Sonja Norwood manages the careers of her daughter; her son, Ray J; and her husband, Willie Norwood, who put out his debut disc last year.

On "Full Moon," her third album, Brandy reconnected with Rodney Jerkins, who produced her second album, the multiplatinum "Never Say Never." It took her a year and a half to finish "Full Moon." She also found her soul mate her husband, producer Robert Smith.

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