Brandy: I Raise My Daughter with Honesty

11/06/2011 at 11:00 AM ET
Jason Merritt/FilmMagic

When she was asked to serve as a mentor on a new reality singing competition for The Hub, Majors & Minors, Brandy used her own experiences to help relate to the contestants, ages 10-16.

“I was able to bond with them and crack jokes with them because I’ve had the experience of my daughter,” she tells PEOPLE of 9½-year-old Sy’rai.

“Going in there with the intention of being honest and loving, and coming from a place of love, that’s what they took with them and that’s what they connected to. That’s how I raise my daughter. I’m open and honest with her, and that’s all I was with these kids.”

Working on the series, which follows 12 kids competing for a record deal, also helped the singer rethink her own attitudes towards her career comeback.

“The show reminded me of how I started in this industry, of everything that I had gone through as a kid,” she says. “These kids know who they are and really want to be an inspiration. Of course they want to be famous and want people to know them, but they also want to be influential and inspiring and write songs that matter.”

“To work with people like that, it causes you to go, ‘Oh my God, I need to rethink my priorities, I need to rethink my dreams,'” she continues. “I need to be just as fearless or get a little more confidence in my life.”

Brandy’s daughter has also served as a source of inspiration while she prepares to return to the music scene, often visiting mom at the recording studio and even beginning to show an interest in following in her footsteps.

“This girl can dance, she can sing,” Brandy says. “She puts on talent shows. She’s into music with my dad. She goes to this dance school every week. She definitely expresses herself in the arts.”

“But I also got her in school and doing her smart thing, as well,” she adds. “Her logic is amazing.”

Rob Naples

While she works hard at giving her daughter a normal life, the singer also says she would have no problem supporting her little one in pursuing a music career if that was what she eventually wanted.

“It’s my job as a mother to help guide her into making the right decisions,” Brandy says. “But she’s not here for me. She’s here for her, to fulfill her own destiny.”

“When she’s really ready, when she’s like, ‘Mom I know what I want to do’ – and I’ll know when that is because I knew when my moment came – I will support her at every way,” she says. “But if that never happens, that’s fine too.”

— Kiran Hefa

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Angela on

I wonder how honestly she raises her daughter when Brandy spent the first few years of Sy’rai’s life lying to everyone about a marriage that never existed in order to cover up a baby born out of wedlock. And the sham marriage was made public by her daughter’s father, not by Brandy. I hope that’s taught her a lesson and she’s honest and transparent with her daughter.

Tee on

Angela, I don’t know much about Brandy and had no idea that she had lied like that about a marriage. Knowing that certainly makes it hard for me to believe what she said in this interview. Sad.

liz on

Brandy sounds like a very loving, encouraging mother, with some good perpective on how best to help her daughter. I wish her the best.

Robin on

Angela you took the words right out of my mouth…

Shannon on

Wow I can’t believe Brandy has an almost 10-year old daughter! Cute!

Shi on

How did I know that someone would bring up a mistake that she made TEN YEARS ago. So glad that I’m not famous and my mistakes from years ago aren’t thrown up brought up by people who know little about me or my life.

I don’t know the situation anymore than you do Angela, but it may not have even been Brandy’s idea to lie about being married to her daughter’s father in the first place. For all that we know, she could have been pressured to do that by her mother/manager, publicist, someone at the record label she was signed to or a host of other people. I think that’s more likely the case since they too easily went with the decision. But even if it was her that made that decision on her own, she was ONLY 21. I wold think that she learned from the mistake. And though it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, I can see why someone in her position felt that she needed to do that to protect her image…because of people like you who are so judgemental.

There is no parent featured on this site or anyone that comments, that has lived a life free of mistakes. But that doesn’t mean that they haven’t matured. I’m the same age as Brandy and I am far from the person I was 10 years ago. Maybe you and Tee haven’t really grown much from 10 years ago and that’s why you find it hard to believe that people can change within that time???

On a more positive note…she really does seem like a good parent. I know that she had issuses with her own mom growing up so she’s said that it’s really important to her that she stays close to her daughter and they communicate with each other. I hope she comes out with another cd soon. Always loved her music.

Loa on

Thank you! She did what she did for her family. Whatever she and Sy’rai’s father had or did was between them. She doesn’t owe the public or anyone for that matter an explaination. The article is about her being an honest mom with her DAUGHTER, which she probably has been. I remember her reality show when she was pregnant and how much she loved her daughter and how happy she was with her boyfriend/husband. I hope she is still that happy now in her life.

Brie on

You really shouldn’t bring up someone’s past once they have admitted their wrong and asked for forgiveness. It’s un-Christian (assuming you are Christian. If you’re not, just ignore me). Anyway, I wish People could have found a more recent picture. Brandy seems like she has a wonderful relationship with her daughter.

Melanie on

@Shi, I understand what you’re saying–but, on the same token, SHE still made the decision to lie. Whether she was pressured by anyone or not, she made the decision to go along with it (if it wasn’t her idea to begin with). I am one of those people who feels like people need to take responsibility for their own actions. All these Hollywood people have a built in excuse of “hollywood pressure”, “my manager wanted me to do it”, “my publicist said it was a good idea” and then when things go wrong, they come back and blame it on someone else. You made the decision, you made the mistake–regardless of whose idea it was. Bottom line.

With that said, if she has apologized (I haven’t seen articles where she has–but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist!) or admitted wrong doing, then yes, wipe the slate clean and it should no longer be brought up. *Hopefully* she is using that part of her past to raise her daughter honestly and that’s where she’s coming from. Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt.

Shi on

@Melanie… I clearly stated that what she did was a mistake…as in it was wrong. I definitely believe that lying is wrong…point, blank, period. I don’t mean to sound as if I’m saying otherwise. My theory on it possibly not being her decision, was just that, a theory. Brandy had a pretty squeaky-clean image back then. Especially because of her show, she was kind of looked at as the girl-next-door. I can see how those behind her or even Brandy herself thought that her having a baby out-of-wedlock could hurt her career. It could have hurt future roles that she was cast in. But nevertheless, even it was her idea, as I said before, she was young and that was 10 years ago and I believe it has nothing to do with the type of mother she is today.

I’m not trying to be funny at all, but have you told a lie within the last 10 years? I say this in all honesty and it’s not something I’m proud of, but I’ve told a few lies when I was younger when I thought that it would keep me from looking bad. Most if not all people have done that. But it doesn’t mean that today I’m not an honest person. Her lie seems bigger because it was told to millions more people. But a lie is a lie. All are wrong.

We look at people like Angelina or Nicole Ritchie and we see people that have dramatically changed in the last 10 years. For Nicole it was just half that. I would never have guessed by their actions then that they would be good mothers. But they matured and are seemingly great moms. Motherhood tends to do that to you.

I have been a fan of Brandy since she came out with her first cd at the age of 15. I loved her show Moesha. And so when it came out that she had lied about being married, I was very disappointed…THEN. But again, 10 years is a long time to grow-up. That’s all I’m trying to say.

Lizzielui on

Brandy made two public apologies regarding this matter and admitted that she was wrong. She didn’t blame a publicist or an agent, she said, “I made the wrong decision and I should have never disparaged Robert or lied about being married in the first place.” So again, why is this an issue ten years later?

Shi on

Thanks Lizzielui…short and sweet. That’s the way I should have kept it. Don’t know why I let it even bother me.

Tee on

Shi, your personal attack on me was insanely uncalled for and more than a little insulting. I made it clear that I was not aware of the situation and I in no way attacked Brandy. I simply said that it was sad that she would lie about something like that. I really don’t appreciate you going around insulting me. Keep your nastiness to yourself.

meghan on

That is a pretty big mistake to make. It is very telling about the character of a person who will lie about marriage.

Shi on

Tee…Insanely? Attack? Serioulsy? My comments weren’t even mostly directed at you but Angela and I was not attacking. Take it how you want to though. It’s whatever to me. I could care less.

Kelli on

Geez, the people that comment on this site are so perfect. Bring on the morality police.

Nan on

Shi….i think you mean i could NOT care less. Saying i could care less, means you actually care AND you could care even less than that 🙂

Tony on

Ooooh brandy made a mistake, kill her now. Doesn’t that make her human? No pun intended. I should shoot myself in the head too I guess, I lie pretty frequently. Seriously tho, she’s an amazing singer and seems to do a good job raising her child. Only time will tell. Can’t wait for the new music tho.

Nancy on

The biggest travesty is that she was voted off of DWTS way too early!!!!

Misha on

Let’s not forget she killed a mother with her range rover

Jared on


You really need to check yourself before you start making claims and accusations. Brandy didn’t kill anyone…A woman died from her injuries in a car accident that Brandy inconveniently happened to be a part of.

Melanie on

@Shi, I understood what you were saying the first time around. And I actually agreed with part of it–what you missed is that you were giving her an excuse. I simply think she needs to take responsibility for her actions, whether it was her idea or not. Plain and simple 🙂

@Jared, Brandy didn’t “happen to be inconveniently involved”…she was recklessly driving and not paying attention (not heresay, she admitted to that)–that’s how the crash happened. So while Misha probably could have stated it in a better way, what she said is completely accurate.

Marky on

My word! Do you people “hear” yourselves? You re rude, hateful, snotty, and unkind–all under the guise of “having the right to state your own opinion”. Good grief, are you kidding?

debbiek on

i just come to read all the haters!! WoW ladies…….

l on

Indeed…as I have said before people are so ignorant with their comments….Haven’t they heard about judge not and thowing the first stone???
Sad indeed.

HappyGoLucky on

Brandy was cleared of wrong doing in that accident.

I agree she was voted off to early on DWTS. I blame the judges for under scoring her.

T bag on

debbiek- ditto! That’s the only reason I read the comments at all on this site- you know if there’s 20+ comments, there’s bound to be a petty argument going on. So sad and sick and pointless, and yet, a guilty pleasure to read! Ha!

Lauren on

I think the point that everyone is trying to make is that she (in particular) has had some questionable moments (more than most) over the past ten years, with the fake marriage and the fatal car accident. Given these facts it seems strange for her to talk about herself as a paragon of honesty, is all.

LisaP on

Wow! I think some people have way too much time on their hands!

Allison on

You’ve named two moments, how is that more than most? What does a car accident have to do with honesty?

Kimmie on

I really don’t care that she lied about being married to her daughter’s father. I do care that entertainers have to lie or be ashamed of having kids out of wedlock. It really is not a big deal and no one should feel pressure to maintain a certain image. I have a problem with the public making entertainers role models. I admire them for entertaining us and the many charitable organizations that they are a part of, but I don’t see them as role models.

lola on

thank you Misha. i was going to comment on that and wondered if someone would before me. wreckless driving….points to some not-so-great ways of living. i’ve never been impressed with brandy. she was always trying to be something she wasn’t. afterall look at her brother and what silly bedfellows he has.

these kids are b-rated singers at best trying to be A rated.

she does have a beautiful daughter though!

Martina on

People change. If you’re the same person you were at 19 and 20 that you are an entire decade later, then that is pretty sad. Maybe the experience of lying taught her about how important it is to be honest. To judge her present thoughts and feelings based on a past mistake is unfair, hypocritical, and rash.

Sarah K. on

Lauren, she was 21 when she lied. We all make mistakes when we’re younger and try to raise our children to avoid making the same mistakes. That’s what every parent does. We all make mistakes, but don’t want our children to repeat that bad habit. That’s perfectly natural. She never claimed to be perfectly honest in the past. But, she wants her child to be honest.

Also, she was never found guilty or liable of any wrong doing in the car accident. She never lied about her involvement. I HATE how so many people assume that just because someone has been sued they are automatically guilty of some crime. If you understand our legal system, you should know that’s just not true. I could walk into court and file a lawsuit right now. That doesn’t mean I’m right. The reason why she was never criminally charged and why the civil suit settled out of court is because there was no evidence that Brandy was at fault. In fact, the report showed that the other driver had marijuana in her system and a witness saw her crash into another car first.

Lillian on

Another post ruined. Some of you people really must have NO LIFE. You invest to much time to pick apart others. To project so much hate, ugliness and animosity towards someone you don’t know must be the only joy some of you get out of your lives. Lets see how long it takes for People to delete this post too….

DME86 on

On her way back home on December 30, 2006, Norwood was involved in a fatal car accident at the Los Angeles freeway.The accident claimed the life of 38-year-old Awatef Aboudihaj—the driver of the Toyota that was struck by Norwood’s Range Rover—who succumbed to her injuries at the L.A. Holy Cross Hospital the next day.[112] Norwood was neither arrested, nor charged with vehicular manslaughter, due to “insufficient evidence.”Unauthorized law enforcement reported that Norwood was driving her car at 65 mph and did not notice that cars in front of her had slowed considerably. Her vehicle then slammed into the back of Aboudihaj’s, causing the Toyota to strike another vehicle before sliding sideways and impacting the center divider. As the Toyota came to a stop, it was hit by another vehicle.A well-placed source in the California Highway Patrol, however, later reported that Aboudihaj actually struck the car in front of her and then slammed on her brakes before Brandy made contact. The sudden stop caused Norwood to hit Aboudihaj’s car. As confirmed, toxicology reports showed that Aboudihaj had “slight traces” of marijuana in her system at the time of the crash. From Wikipedia

Monica on

I think the point people are trying to make (and I agree with) is that it seems hypocritical to say you are raising your child with complete honesty when for the first few years of her life you lied about being married to her father- to her and the rest of the world. I watched that reality show about her pregnancy and I don’t think her mom made her lie because as I remember she was pretty upset about the surprise elopement.

Yes, everyone makes mistakes and we all do things when we are young and dumb, but it still was a pretty big lie- for no real reason- who cares if you accidentally get pregnant? It happens everyday. I’m not bashing Brandy and I don’t think everyone else was either- just pointing out the facts and hypocrisy of her statements.

Sarah K. on

Monica, we all make mistakes when we’re younger (21 is young) and try to raise our children to avoid making the same mistakes. If that’s hypocritical, then I’m pretty sure every single parent is guilty of that.

Tee on

Shi, you’re kidding yourself if you think your words weren’t an attack. But that’s fine, obviously you don’t think much about hurting other people. And on that note, I’m done with this conversation. I’m not a fan of fighting with people online when they can’t see how their ugly words affect other people.

Helena on

So, some of you people ragging on her for raising her child with honesty now, would prefer for her to lie to her? What planet do you morality police live on? Worry about your own lives and stop passing judgment on people you don’t even know!

Abbi on

How is Brandy’s daughter’s name pronounced? I’ve never heard it spoken, so wonder about the correct pronunciation. Is Sy’rai pronounced sah-RYE? SIGH-rah? sah-RAY? SEAR-ah?

Sandra on

I think the bigger question regarding Brandy’s “fake marriage” is why didn’t Robert Smith marry her-the mother of his child? And then he reveals in public that they’re not married so that his daughter can be subject to abuse/rejection because of this?! What a great, honest man he is. Given Brandy’s upbringing, I can well believe that she intended to be married and probably believed that they would get married post-pregnancy and might have gotten strung along. Then once it was clear the marriage wasn’t going to happen, it would have become complicated to correct the situation. Let the person who has never told a lie step forward and throw the first and last stones. The wages of all sin is death, so your lies put you in the same boat you claim that Brandy is in.

And to the person who said that being in a car accident reveals someone’s character, that has to be the dumbest statement I’ve heard in a while. It’s called an “accident” because there is no intent. Without intent, how can it reflect on someone’s character? Truly a supid statement, lacking in even the most basic logic. And then you throw out lies about how she was driving and how the accident happened – the police report is available on the internet – if you have any interest whatsoever in the facts, READ IT! But then you probably don’t want facts because that would only interfere with your pet theories. You revealed yourself when you admitted that you’ve never liked Brandy (as if you’ve met her and know her) – that’s the real reason for your vitriole. She has something you want and that you believe you’ll never have, so you hate her for it. You are transparent and not looking too pretty in character yourself!

Sandra on

Tee, you just said a mouthful when you said your feelings were hurt by how someone else’s “ugly words affect other people”. Does it occur to you how your ugly words might affect Brandy? Or is it just your hurt feelings that count?

Mariana on

@ Angela- Brandy had a sham marriage b/c she did not want to be looked down upon. Although this is the 21st century, people still have their views and opinions on woman that have children out of wedlock. That’s just how it is. It’s better to pretend to be a married woman with a child than to be an unmarried woman with a child. At least that way, people wouldn’t criticize and make opinions.

As for her child’s father, he’s an absolute jerk. He did it to be vindictive. Otherwise, there would be no other reason for him to tell the whole world their private business. IT WAS NO ONE’S BUSINESS!

Other than that, I see no wrong in what she did. Women (and women in the entertainment business) have done this since the dawn of time.

mother of 2 on

Okay i am going to say this i am a mother of two amazing little boys my first son was born out wedlock and i told my family and friends i was getting married to his father but i really wasnt so I lied oh well its a lie i didnt want to do it but my family and friends they believe that you should be married before you have a child so i lied that was 5 years ago but i teach my son not to lie cause once you lie you have to tell another lie to cover that up and i got pregant with my second son but i did marry him but what i am trying to say here is get off brandy’s back when she lied there had to be a reason ok but you know she came out and told the world that she lied and then the car accident she did wrong and i am sorry for the lost of someones sister, mother, cousin, daugther, wife and etc but like some of you all said a lie is a lie but god forgives so why cant people i have forgiven my self my family has forgiven me and even my friends so if you are a fan of brandy and a true fan then forgive her dont judge a book its cover and what you hear or what it says read it and read it good cause if you dont know what it been through or where it came from then you honsetly dont need to judge it point blank cause we all are not perfect only god and if god was on here he would air all of our little wrongs and lies out so watch it