Brenda Claudina Susan Artman
2 March 1969
|Children||2, including Jamal|
Brenda Claudina Susan Edwards (née Artman; born 2 March 1969) is an English singer, actress, television personality and presenter. In 2005, she finished in fourth place in the second series of The X Factor. As of 2019, she is a weekly panelist on Loose Women. In January 2021, she became a presenter on the BBC One programme Songs of Praise.
Brenda Claudina Susan Artman was born in Luton, Bedfordshire, to an Afro-Caribbean family. Edwards and her older brother Rodney were raised by relatives following the death of their parents in a car crash on 22 December 1974. Her grandmother, who was a member of the local Pentecostal church, encouraged her granddaughter to attend when she was eight, and Edwards soon discovered a love of music and singing, which led to joining Sunday school junior choir, and soon became the choir mistress, as well as a member of the Pentecostal Collective Church of God in Christ (COGIC) mass choir.
Edwards eventually made the move from gospel to secular music, and at 18 she sang at local night clubs, weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs. Prior to finding a successful entertainment career, Edwards worked full-time in accounts.
Edwards appeared in the second series of The X Factor in 2005. She was in the Over-25s category alongside Andy Abraham, Chico Slimani and Maria Lawson, and mentored by Sharon Osbourne. The first live show saw Edwards singing "Son of a Preacher Man". This was followed by performances of "Rescue Me" and "Midnight Train to Georgia". Performances of "I'm Outta Love" and "I'll Never Love This Way Again" won her a place in the semi-final, where she was voted out after her renditions of "Respect" and "Without You" with just 23 votes separating her and the act in third place.
Having provided vocals for a number of unsigned and small label recordings, Edwards then found some success on the 1996 track "Wiggly World Part Two" by Junior Jack (as Mr. Jack).
After The X Factor, Edwards was chosen to play the role of Mama Morton in the hit West End musical Chicago, and her run in the show continued until March 2007. She was invited back to play Mama Morton over the Christmas period 2007–08, between 10 December 2007 and 26 January 2008. She returned to play Mama Morton once again in November 2008, continuing in the role into early 2009.
In 2007, Edwards was cast as Pearl – a role created specifically for her – in a West End production of Carmen Jones at the Royal Festival Hall, from 25 July until 2 September 2007. That same year, she won the Favourite Reality Star award at the 2007 Screen Nation awards. In 2009, Edwards helped launch Bristol Dogs and Cats Home for unwanted pets, and toured the UK in the Queen musical We Will Rock You as Killer Queen.
On 21 June 2010 she started her role as Killer Queen in the West End production of We Will Rock You replacing Mazz Murray, who was on maternity leave. Edwards took two weeks off to appear in another West End musical, and then returned. She recorded her first single and recorded the rest of her album in Geneva.[when?]
From 13 to 17 September 2010, Edwards played Diane Steed in The Human Comedy at The Young Vic.
In 2010 Edwards announced she would release her debut album in 2011. The first single from the album is titled "You Know How To Love Me", taken from the musical When Midnight Strikes by Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds. It received its radio premiere on BBC Radio 2 and was released on 15 November 2010.
In 2012 Edwards appeared as legendary blues singer Bessie Smith in a workshop of a musical about her life.
Edwards played Mrs Johnson in The Wright Way, the new Ben Elton sitcom for BBC1.
In summer 2014 she played a commentator only seen as a giant pair of lips in the Alan Carr interactive gameshow The Singer Takes It All.
In 2015/16 Edwards toured the UK and Ireland in the hit musical Hairspray, playing Motormouth Maybelle. In 2017 she returned to tour the UK and Ireland again with Hairspray, reprising her role as Motormouth Maybelle.
In February and March 2019, Brenda was a guest panellist on ITV's Loose Women. She was then brought in as a regular panelist to fill in for Linda Robson, who went on a break due to ill health. Linda returned in early 2020 and Brenda has since stayed on making weekly appearances.
In July 2019 it was announced that Brenda would be playing the lead role of Delores Van Cartier in the forthcoming UK tour and West End revival of Sister Act: The Musical, with Whoopi Goldberg confirming that the part was being revised specifically to allow Brenda to play the role after being rejected from the original UK casting for being "too old". (The original versions had Delores as a 23-year-old, contrary to the older character portrayed in the movie from which the musical was based.)
Brenda is currently appearing as Motormouth Maybelle in the 2021/22 touring production of Hairspray: https://www.hairsprayuktour.com/
Edwards has two children, Jamal (1990–2022) and Tanisha, from a previous relationship. Jamal was the creator of SB.TV and owned Just Jam, a subsidiary Sony record label, until his death in 2022. She told Coleen Nolan that he died holding her hand. In 2011, Edwards and Jamal featured in an advert for Google Chrome.
Edwards has overcome stage 3 breast cancer, and survived domestic violence at the hands of a former partner.