Brandy Norwood helped reinvent the sound of R&B when she was just 15: Her self-titled debut as Brandy came out in 1994. She also starred in the television show Moesha and won a Grammy for "The Boy Is Mine," her 1998 duet with singer Monica. Brandy's most impressive distinction? She can honestly say that the late, great Whitney Houston was her fairy godmother.
That's the role Houston played opposite Brandy in a television adaptation of Cinderella. But it also represents the way Houston became an idol and mentor to the young singer — a story that stretches back to the night a prepubescent Brandy attended her first Whitney Houston concert and deserted her assigned seat to try to meet her hero.
"I was determined," Brandy says. "I promised every usher ... that I would remember them when I became famous, and that I would pay all their bills and take care of them if they just let me down to the next section. I talked my way all the way backstage — but by the time I got there, the concert was over and Whitney had left. So my whole world was destroyed."
Brandy's newest album is called Two Eleven — the date of both her own birth and Houston's death. She discusses it here with NPR's Scott Simon.