Twenty-year-old Sy’Rai Smith is the daughter of the iconic actress and musician Brandy. The pair are close as close can be with the 42-year-old even coaching her daughter to ensure that her true writing and singing gifts shine through as they should. (Oh, did we mention that she’s pretty good at tennis too?) Recently, Sy’Rai sat down with VIBE in an exclusive interview, telling the popular entertainment news outlet how she is setting herself up to become a legend in her own right.
VIBE: Can you speak on being a part of the series “More Than a Name” and being vulnerable about your journey as the daughter of Brandy?
Sy’Rai: Yeah, it was an amazing experience. I’ve seen other people do it that are related to people in the industry. I just wanted to do it. I was so honored that they thought of me. I loved the idea of speaking about my story and where I want to go in my career. And yes, I was vulnerable. I love being vulnerable with my platform and people that I want to watch because it’s important to be real and tell people your true story and your essence in this crazy world.
VIBE: Aside from your shared passion for music, how close are you with your mom, Brandy? By the way, VIBE is sending her love and healing energy.
Sy’Rai: Thank you. I’ve always been close to my mom, but there is a time where you grow up [and] you’re not as close. As soon as I got out of that stage where I wanted to do everything by myself, I realized that my mom is really my best friend. We do regular mom-daughter stuff. We go see movies, and then sometimes we just chill at the house and not do anything. We like watching Dance Moms or Bring It.
My mom really pours a lot of life lessons into me. Doesn’t matter if it’s 3:00 in the morning, she’ll lecture me for an hour about life. I really do appreciate her because she does have a lot of gems that she just places on my heart, on my life.
VIBE: What’s one gem you were taught that sticks with you?
Sy’Rai: Just to really be independent and know your value in this world and not everybody deserves to be in your life. Be very selective, humble, and kind because it’s really important. She’s really taught me to be kind, just by setting the example. She’s the nicest human being, and she’s just very angelic. I think me seeing her like that all my life — I want to be kind to people.
VIBE: Have you ever felt like there’s a certain pressure placed on you to pursue music?
Sy’Rai: Absolutely. When you have such a legacy, you do feel a lot more pressure than an upcoming artist that doesn’t. God has blessed me with a platform where people can be like, “Okay, her [Brandy] daughter came out with music, I want to go see what that’s about.” But also, there’s another side of it where it’s like, “Well, she doesn’t sound as good as her mom,” or, “Her music is not that good compared to her mom.” That pressure? That scares me. I just really want people to understand that there is a difference. I am me, and my mom is my mom. I love when people do compare me to her because I mean, who wouldn’t want to be compared to my mom?
If I sound like her then I must be doing something right, but at the same time, it is a lot of pressure to exceed someone’s expectations when they already set something so high. I just don’t want to disappoint anybody. We want the audience to understand, “Okay, she’s great just as she is.” But it’s hard to think about people comparing me and not being just as in awe.
VIBE: Are you defining your sound to be different from hers to lessen the comparisons?
Sy’Rai: Yeah. But it’s hard to steer away from how I sing because it’s just what I love to do. R&B is everything to me. That’s all I listen to, but then again, I also grew up on the side where pop was really popular. I have tapped into other genres. I’ve done some pop, I’ve done some afro[beats] just to see where I can go. But I always put an R&B spin on everything.
I don’t want to place myself in a box. I do want to get into house [music]. I want to get into EDM. I want to get into alternative. One of the songs me and mom did was a pop song — an R&B song, too. I think you can do whatever genre if you have a voice.
VIBE: What do you remember to be your earliest memory of music?
Sy’Rai: When I was growing up, all I wanted to do was be in musicals at school. I remember watching Hairspray and Dream Girls. I used to have this CD player in my room, and I would literally just listen to Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and my mom. Those were the only four albums that I would repeat. I wouldn’t watch TV. I wouldn’t even do my homework. I would go home and just sit there, and dance and have a brush in my hand and pretend I was on stage. My mom would creep in my closet to hear me sing.
She would take me into her room and say, “Okay, can you do this? Can you sing this note?” I would do it, and she would freak out. She’d be like, “Okay, she’s going to be a singer.” Then every year, my mom would make me sing on her voicemail. It would be “Single Ladies,” Annie Get Your Gun the musical, and Annie. It was just funny because everybody would know it was me singing. I never thought about being a doctor, never thought about being a dentist. I was like, “No, I’m going to be a singer. That’s what I’m going to be.”
Sy’Rai continued to talk about her daily routines, what the misconceptions are about being a celebrity offspring and more. To read the remainder of the interview click here.
If you want to hear more about Sy’Rai and how “[she is] going to make a name in this industry, that’s for sure. I want my name everywhere,” check out her interview in an episode of the web series, TOGETHXR.
Photo Credit(s)/Featured Image: Sy’Rai Smith Instagram