– by Un’ruly Contributor Dorcas Siwoku
Affectionately known for her prim and proper role on teen hit sitcom Moesha, her successful music career and a multitude of other accomplishments, Brandy Norwood and her hair have been the topic of discussion and admiration by women all over. Her career versatility translates into her choice of hairstyles. From braids, to wigs and weaves, experimenting with cuts and color and even having her own hair brand—she’s really done it all.
Brandy’s first hit single “I Wanna Be Down” was released in 1994 off her self-titled debut album. The song climbed the Billboard music charts with a music video featuring Brandy sporting shoulder length box braids that would quickly become her signature look.
Her trademark hair-do followed her into the height of her early acting career. In 1996 Brandy took her acting to a new level and starred in the UPN sitcom Moesha. The series ran for six full seasons with Brandy’s braids being a hairstyle staple, so much so that it attracted the folks over at Mattel who released the Brandy Doll in 1999 with textured and braided hair just like the actress’.
When it came to her braids young Brandy didn’t just stick to the basics; she played with the color, length and size of her braids to keep her look fresh and different.
In 1998 a slightly more mature Brandy released her second album Never Say Never, featuring the song “The Boy is Mine” which went on to become a massive hit. Starring along side sing Monica, Brandy opted for mid-back length micro braids.
In an interview with Essence Magazine Brandy said, “I thought it was interesting being a young, African-American woman with braids, because at first, people were telling me that I shouldn’t be wearing braids. I just went against that and started doing different things with my braids. Every hairstyle you saw with natural hair, or straight hair or kinky hair, you saw with my braids and I loved that.”
older and ready to experiment
Moving out of her teen years and in an attempt to leave her younger look behind, Brandy tweaked her braids to give her an older look. Brandy sported thinner braids and experimented more with the ‘pick and drop’ style leaving the ends of the braids free.
By the release of her third album Full Moon in 2002 Brandy had left behind the braids all together; her new hair was somewhat symbolic of a fresh start. After taking a hiatus from the spotlight to handle self-esteem and personal issues, Full Moon was Brandy’s comeback. She explained to MTV News, “I have done a complete circle and I feel whole. All of that’s reflected in the music. That’s why I entitled [my album] Full Moon. It’s a concept album, it’s autobiographical. Everything that I’ve gone through in the last three years is reflected.”
In 2005 Brandy became the spokesperson for Ultima, a wig and weave retailer that offered her the versatility of different, lengths, cuts and colors. “I love beauty, I love fashion, I love looking different,” Brandy said in an behind the scenes interview with Ultima.
a new tv show and a new album
At 35 Brandy isn’t afraid to try something new or fall back in love with some old favorites. Her role on BET’s sitcom The Game has her in various looks, most of which are straight styles, but every now and then we’ll see her character, Chardonnay Pitts, switch things up.
Her TV character aside, Brandy’s hair styling options almost seem endless. A quick glimpse of the video for her single “Put it Down,” from the album Two Eleven, shows that versatility (she wears 5 different styles!) comes easily to Norwood.
Meanwhile, her Instagram page has become an outlet for her fans to follow her ever-evolving hair. Everything, from an edgy cut when she turned 35 (doesn’t even look like she ages!) to revisiting the braids that she made iconic in her younger days, it’s clear that she a woman who likes her options.
“I turned 35 and I just wanted to try something new,” People Magazine quotes the songstress, “I feel 35. I just feel like a woman.”
Brandy has brought back her braids and even introduced Marley twists into the mix! Though the look takes you down memory lane to her days on Moesha, there’s something about the way she is rocking the style these days that has everyone talking. It could be the fact that her hair is taken care of by celebrity stylists such as Kim Kimble and Dr. Kari Williams.
More and more if Brandy isn’t wearing her own natural hair, then she is sporting a natural hair alternative, as she did on the Queen Latifah show in April of 2014 wearing a Heat Free Hair’s “For Kinks” collection wig giving her the full afro-effect.
The full fro and has become a fast favorite of the actress and the natural hair protective styles seem to be her styling du jour when she isn’t on set of The Game.
Brandy is definitely on the up and up. She seems to have found her groove, not only with her hair but also with herself and her career.
I was so happy about that! I was like, FOR REAL GOD?! That’s what I’m talking about! Won’t he do it!? No, it felt really amazing. It did. I was like wow this is….and you know what? I had forgotten what it felt like to win. I had forgotten. So, it just felt like Wow! It was a great feeling. I was like Yes! I just need to keep on striving, keep on believing and this is the path. It feels great.
– Brandy on winning her NAACP Image Award.
Photos via, via, via, via, via, via, via, BET, and Brandy’s Instagram, Featured image by Gino Depinto