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In 1993, amid ongoing negotiations with East West Records, Norwood's parents organized a recording contract with the Atlantic Recording Corporation after auditioning for the company's director of A&R Darryl Williams.Initially broadcast to high ratings, the series' viewership dwindled and ended up running for only one season, but earned her a Young Artists Award nomination for Outstanding Youth Ensemble alongside her co-stars.In 1996, her short-lived engagement on Thea led Norwood to star in her own show, the UPN-produced sitcom Moesha.

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Norwood co-wrote and produced six songs on the album which yielded her first number-one song on the U. Billboard Hot 100, "The Boy Is Mine", a duet with singer Monica that has become the most successful song by a female duo in the music industry.

Exploiting the media's presumption of a rivalry between the two young singers, the song was one of the most successful records in the United States of all time, spending a record-breaking thirteen weeks atop the Billboard charts, and eventually garnering the pair a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

The two-hour Wonderful World of Disney special garnered an estimated 60 million viewers, giving the network its highest ratings in the time period in 16 years, and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program the following year.

Fledgling producer Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins was consulted to contribute to Norwood's second album Never Say Never, which was released in June 1998.

In 2002, she starred in the reality series Brandy: Special Delivery, documenting the birth of her daughter.

Her third and fourth albums, Full Moon (2002) and Afrodisiac (2004), were released to critical and commercial success.In 2012 she became a series regular in the BET series The Game, and released her sixth album Two Eleven to critical praise.In April 2015, Norwood made her Broadway debut in the musical Chicago.Her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including a Grammy Award, one American Music Award, and seven Billboard Music Awards.She has become known for her distinctive sound, characterized by her peculiar timbre, voice-layering, and intricate riffs, which has earned her the nickname 'The Vocal Bible' from industry peers and critics.Norwood recalled that she appreciated the cancellation of the show as she was unenthusiastic about acting at the time, and the taping caused scheduling conflicts with the recording of her album. It was a good thing, because I could do what I had to do, because I wanted to sing." Norwood later summed up the songs on the album as young and vulnerable, stating, "I didn’t really know a lot—all I wanted to do was basically sing.