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Brandy's back!

Although Brandy has been out of the music loop for three years while raising her profile as an actor, she's making it clear that music remains a priority in her career with the worldwide release of her second album, Never Say Never (Atlantic Records). The set is expected to be available in the United States on June 9.

The first single, The Boy Is Mine, a duet with Monica, is to be released to U.S. radio next Monday and will arrive in stores May 19.

Brandy's acting career dates back to 1993-94, when she co-starred in the comedy series Thea. Shortly after the series ended and her self-titled album made its debut, she got the lead part in the UPN comedy Moesha, starring as a teenage girl coping with the pressures of growing up. Last year, Brandy made her TV movie debut as Cinderella in a multiracial remake of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic.

"I'm nervous," she says. "Three years away from the music scene is a long time. Not having any music out has caused some people to recognize me more as an actress than a singer because of Moesha and Cinderella. But I'm a singer first. This is my sophomore CD, and it's very important to me that my music connects with the general public."

Like other artists who have had phenomenal success with their debut albums, 19-year-old Brandy understands just how fickle fans can be.

Brandy says her album is far more mature than her first one, which, according to SoundScan, has sold more than 4-million copies. "I'm not the I Wanna Be Down little girl on a swing," she says, referring to her earlier video clip image. "I've grown up, and therefore the lyrical content of my songs is more mature." The album's musical styles, meanwhile, run from hip-hop to pop to ballads.

The Boy Is Mine, for example, is a lyrical fight between Brandy and Monica over a boy both have become involved with. In the midtempo Top of the World, Brandy discusses the frustrations of living a "public" lifestyle.

Despite the current emphasis on her music rather than her acting, Brandy says she doesn't plan to abandon one career for the other. "I'm young, and I have a lot of energy," she says. "I don't want to close any doors. I want to do a lot: music, movies, modeling, directing and producing. I'll leave the balancing to my management."

Brandy will have a role in the sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer and will begin shooting a new season of Moesha in August.

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