President George W. Bush had a lot of screw-ups during his eight-year term, but he did do a couple things right. One of them was proclaiming June as Black Music Month on May 31, 2002. June is here,* and to celebrate Black Music Month, I'll be featuring one of my favorite artists each day, sharing my first or most personal memory of them, and explain what their accomplishments are and why I felt they should make the Black Music Month Top 30 list. There will be some oldies, some newbies and some artists you may not know of yet.
Black Music Month Heat Factor "Why's this artist hot?": If you've seen her YouTube videos singing Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," Etta James "At Last" and Judy Garland's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," that's proof enough that her voice is phenomenal. I'm not convinced that most of today's new R&B artists could pull that one off. Regardless of the final turnout, she sang her butt off on all five of her albums, 1994's "Brandy," 1998's "Never Say Never," 2002's "Full Moon," and 2004's "Afrodisiac." I will admit that I never heard 2008's "Human**." After listening to "A Change is Gonna Come" at least 10 times, I'm going to pick up "Human" before Black Music Month is over.
Brandy is currently one of the stars in VH1's "Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business" and in the studio with super producer Timbaland. She's exploring music opportunities as a rapper going by the name Bran'Nu. Originally I wasn't thrilled by this idea, but when I saw her rhyme, all I kept thinking was "Not bad. Not bad at all." From her collabo with MC Lyte and Queen Latifah on "I Wanna Be Down (Remix)" to her on-screen relationship with Onyx's Fredro Starr, I always expected her to like hip-hop. I just never thought she'd rap. I'm looking forward to hearing the final product because her performance on VH1's reality show was excellent. I can't say I always agree with her decisions on the reality show, but as an artist, I respect her 100 percent.
First Memory, Most Personal Memory of the Artist: I listen to R&B and hip-hop music today, and everybody's talking about crush this and sex that. When I was coming up, it was still rather cliché for women to just be hopping on anybody. There were also more positive female artists (both in hip-hop and R&B), and one of them was Brandy. Now 31, she was close to my age and I admired her on the show "Moesha" so much because she showed that you can get the guy without being easy, and boy, did she get some of the finest guys to play her boyfriends on that show. That sitcom for me was the black version of "Blossom," and I loved both. She was fun to watch on "Thea" too, although at the time, I was more focused on Jason Weaver. There were multiple other African-American drama comedy sitcoms with positive female role models on the show, but when the cameras were off and when she was singing, she still seemed to be Moesha. There aren't too many actresses I can say reflect their characters.
On top of it all, she wasn't afraid to dance and could sing her butt off. I've been a supporter of her music since her 1994 self-titled album when she was singing "Baby," but my favorite song was "Sunny Day." I heard "I Wanna Be Down" on the radio two times a week or so ago and (badly) sang along like I was really her.
Accomplishments from the Artist: She's sold over 25 million albums and won the following awards—Best New R&B Artist (Billboard Music Awards), R&B-Hip-Hop New Artist of the Year (Soul Train Music Awards), Hot 100 Sales Single of the Year (Billboard Music Award), 1999's Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group (Grammy Award), Kids Choice Awards, MN Video Music Awards, American Music Awards, NAACP Image Awards, TMF Awards, Congress of Racial Equality Award and the list goes on.
* This entry was originally published on Associated Content in June of 2010. It has been republished with permission from Shamontiel. To find out who the other 29 artists were who were selected in 2010, visit this Pinterest board.
** I listened to "Human" shortly after writing this piece. My favorite songs by her are "I Tried," "Say You Will," "How I Feel" and "Should I Go" from the "Afrodisiac" album. Her 2012 album "Two Eleven" was even better, specifically "So Sick," "Slower," "Let Me Go," "Put It Down," "Do You Know What You Have" and my favorite song off the album "Can You Hear Me Now."
Shamontiel is also The Wire Examiner, and for the gladiators, she's the Scandal Examiner, too.
Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest TV, book, music and movie reviews; photo galleries; entertainment saving tips and other entries, or subscribe to her National African American Entertainment channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her @BlackHealthNews, and follow this Pinterest board to read her celebrity interviews.