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Brandy headlines Project HOOD benefit

Pop singer Brandy (pictured BET Honors awards last week) headlines benefit for Project HOOD Jan. 19 The Venue. | GETTY

Pop singer Brandy (pictured at the BET Honors awards last week) headlines a benefit for Project HOOD on Jan. 19 at The Venue. | GETTY IMaGES FOR beT

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♦ The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, 777 Casino Center, Hammond, Ind.

♦ Tickets, $45

♦ (800) 745-3000;

Updated: January 16, 2013 5:52PM

R&B singer Brandy is known for her “good girl” image while ruling the charts in the 1990s and being the star of the television series “Moesha” while still a teenager.

That made her the ideal choice to perform Jan. 19 at the Project HOOD “Party with a Purpose” concert at the Venue at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., according to Rev. Corey Brooks, pastor of New Beginnings Church in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

“Brandy is a positive role model with the right message,” Brooks said of the now 33-year-old singer. “She is young and fits into the age group that we are trying to reach and are most affected by violence.”

Proceeds (after expenses) from the concert go to Brooks’ efforts to raise $15 million to build the Project HOOD Community and Economic Development Center in Woodlawn. Brooks gained national attention last year after staying atop the roof of a shuttered neighborhood motel for three months until he raised the money to buy the property, which had become a haven for drugs and prostitution. Brooks said he created Project HOOD shortly before climbing aboard the roof “to eradicate gun violence one neighborhood at a time.”

The “rooftop pastor” said he plans to build the community center debt-free, and so far has raised $500,000 (including a $100,000 donation from filmmaker Tyler Perry). He said the center would give young people options in life instead of choosing negative ones that are so easy to become involved in.

“We are fighting four ills,” Brooks said. “Social, educational, economic and spiritual, which help to drive violence. Gun violence declines when those ills are tackled.”

Several big-ticket items that were donated will be raffled at the benefit concert, which is the same day as the pastor’s birthday, Brooks said. Concertgoers will have a chance to win the Harley Davidson motorcycle used in Tyler Perry’s film “Good Deeds,” a Ford Focus, and a Ford Fusion that Brooks received in October at Steve Harvey’s annual Hoodie Awards, which honor outstanding community members.

As for her part, Brandy said she is excited to hit the stage on Saturday.

“I am just happy to be back doing music,” she said. “Whenever someone invites me out to sing and get in touch with my fans, I always want to do it.”

After a rocky period that included lower than expected album sales and being involved in a Los Angeles freeway accident that left one woman dead, Brandy, 33, is enjoying success with her latest album, “Two Eleven,” which
debuted in October at No. 1 on
the R&B/Hip Hop Albums
charts, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The album’s name stands for her Feb. 11 birthday, which is also the day singer Whitney Houston died last year.

Brandy met Houston when she was 15, and the singers formed a bond. The two also starred in the 1997 film remake of “Cinderella.”

“As huge as she was and as many people that she touched, Whitney never seemed untouchable to me,” Brandy said. “She was my mentor and someone I looked up to. To lose her on the day that I was brought into the world, it was just unbelievable.”

Brandy, the “America’s Got Talent” judge and “Dancing With the Stars” alum, became engaged during the holidays to music executive Ryan Press. She continues to be a regular on the BET series “The Game,” which premieres in March, and will be featured in Tyler Perry’s newest film, “The Marriage Counselor,” which opens the same month.

“Everything is looking pretty good for me in 2013,” Brandy said. “I get a chance to perform and do the acting stuff, so it is fun.”

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