Toni Michelle Braxton (born October
7, 1966 is an American R&B singer-songwriter and actress who enjoyed much
success in the 1990s. Braxton has won six Grammy Awards and has sold over
48 million records worldwide. Braxton has a contralto vocal range.
Braxton topped the Billboard 200 with her 1993 self-titled debut album and
continued that streak with her second studio album Secrets, which spawned
the number-one smash hits "You're Makin' Me High" and "Un-Break My Heart".
After filing for bankruptcy, Braxton returned with her chart-topping third
album, The Heat. Her most recent albums were More Than a Woman, her last
release under the Arista label, and Libra, her first and only release on
Blackground. Recently, she returned to the spotlight with "Yesterday", a
#12 R&B hit which serves as the first single off her new album Pulse
scheduled for a May 2010 release. Braxton was involved in the 7th season
of the reality show Dancing with the Stars. Her professional partner was
Alec Mazo. She was voted off in week five of the competition.
Toni's father was a clergyman, and the Braxton children were raised in a
strict religious household. Braxton's first performing experience was
singing in her church choir. She attended Bowie State University to obtain
a teaching degree but decided to sing professionally after she was
discovered by William E. Pettaway Jr., who heard her singing to herself
while pumping gas.
Braxton and her four sisters (Traci, Trina, Towanda, and Tamar) began
performing as The Braxtons in the late 1980s and were signed to Arista
Records in 1989. Their first single, "Good Life", was released in 1990.
Though the song was not successful, it attracted the attention of Antonio
"L.A." Reid and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.
With Braxton's low register sounding similar to that of Anita Baker, Reid
and Babyface recruited her to record a demo of "Love Shoulda Brought You
Home", a song that they had written for Anita Baker for the soundtrack of
Eddie Murphy's film, Boomerang. Baker, who was pregnant at the time, did
not record the song but suggested that Braxton record it. Her recording
was later included on the soundtrack along with "Give U My Heart", a duet
by Braxton and Babyface. Braxton, meanwhile, was signed to Reid and
Edmonds' Arista-distributed imprint, LaFace Records, and immediately began
recording her solo debut album.
On July 13, 1993, LaFace Records released Braxton's self-titled debut
album, Toni Braxton. The album, which was primarily produced by Reid,
Babyface, and Daryl Simmons, peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard
200 albums chart. The first single, "Another Sad Love Song", peaked at
number seven and number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B Singles
charts respectively. The album's second single, "Breathe Again" peaked in
the top five of both the Hot 100 and R&B singles charts and no 2 in the
UK. More singles from Toni Braxton were released in 1994, including "You
Mean the World to Me", "Seven Whole Days", "I Belong To You", and "How
Braxton's debut album won her several awards, including three Grammy
Awards (for Best New Artist and two consecutive awards for Best Female R&B
Vocal Performance in 1994 and 1995). She also won two American Music
Awards (for Favorite Soul/R&B New Artist and Favorite New Adult
Contemporary Artist) in 1994 and another one in 1995 (for Favorite
Soul/R&B Album). Toni Braxton was certified 8x platinum in USA and has
sales of over 15 million worldwide.
In June 1996, Braxton released her second and most successful album,
Secrets. Braxton has said about the album: "The motivation for this album
was to include a little bit of everything. Our aim was to come up with
material that would have a familiar 'feel' to the people who bought the
first album without being musically redundant." Along with Babyface,
Braxton also worked with R. Kelly, Tony Rich, and David Foster on the
album. Braxton was the co-executive producer of the album and co-wrote two
of its songs, including the 1997 single "How Could an Angel Break My
Heart", which was also later included on Diana Princess of Wales Tribute,
a Princess Diana memorial album.
With help from the album's first single, "You're Makin' Me High" (which
became Braxton's first number-one hit on the Hot 100 singles chart), the
album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 albums chart. "You're
Makin' Me High" also topped the R&B singles chart for two weeks and saw
similar success in Europe and Asia. The album's second single, "Un-Break
My Heart" (written by Diane Warren)—which would later become the singer's
signature song became the biggest hit of her career spending eleven weeks
at number one on the Hot 100 and also topping the Hot Dance Singles Sales
chart for eleven weeks and the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart for four
weeks as well as reaching no 2 in the UK The song is the second biggest
selling single by a female singer in Billboard history behind Whitney
Houston's I Will Always Love You. Other singles from the album included
the double A-side "I Don't Want To"/"I Love Me Some Him" (which peaked at
number one on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart) and "How Could an Angel
Break My Heart" which featured Kenny G, with whom Braxton later toured.
After 92 weeks in the charts, Secrets is certified 8x platinum, becoming
Braxton's second straight 8 million seller. Internationally, Secrets sold
more than 20 million copies, concreting Braxton's superstar status.
Braxton topped the Billboard Year-End Charts as the Top Hot 100 Singles
Artist — Female, Top R&B Artist — Female (singles and albums), Top Hot R&B
Singles Artist — Female, Top Hot Dance Club Play Artist, and Top Hot Adult
Contemporary Artist, while "Un-Break My Heart" became the Top Hot Dance
Club Play Single and the Top Hot Adult Contemporary Track of the year. She
won two Grammy Awards; one for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best
Female R&B Vocal Performance and two American Music Awards for Favorite
Female Soul/R&B Artist and Favorite Soul/R&B Album.
In 1999, Braxton and LaFace resolved their legal conflict. Issued with a
brand new contract worth a reported $25 million, a satisfied Braxton
continued to record for the label. Though the legalities with her LaFace
and Arista subsided, Braxton saw a steep sales decline with her
forthcoming releases with the label.
In January 2000, LaFace Records released "He Wasn't Man Enough", the first
single from Braxton's third studio album, The Heat. By June 2000, the song
peaked at number two on the Hot 100 chart. Braxton's music video for "He
Wasn't Man Enough", which also featured actress Robin Givens, was
nominated for two MTV Video Music Awards including Best Female Video and
Best R&B Video and a Billboard Music Video Award for Best R&B Clip of the
The Heat was released on April 25, 2000. Debuting at number two on the
Billboard 200 albums chart with first week sales of 205,000, it remained
in the top 20 for fifteen consecutive weeks. Braxton again worked with
producers Babyface and Foster; also included in the staple were Rodney
Jerkins, and new beau musician Keri Lewis. Braxton herself also took a
more hands-on approach, co-writing and co-producing a handful of the
tracks. "Gimme Some", a track on "The Heat", featured a rap verse from TLC
star Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes.
The albums second single, "Just Be a Man About It", peaked at number 32 on
the Hot 100 and number six on the R&B Charts. The third single, "Spanish
Guitar", peaked at number 98 on the Hot 100 and number one on the Hot
Dance & Club charts. The fourth single, "Maybe", peaked at 74 on the R&B
By the end of the year, The Heat was certified 2x platinum. Also in
February 2000, Braxton performed alongside Enrique Iglesias and Christina
Aguilera during the Super Bowl Halftime show. Braxton topped the Billboard
Year-End Charts as the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist — Female, Top R&B/Hip-Hop
Album Artist — Female, and Top Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Artist —
Female. She also received the 2000 Aretha Franklin Award for Entertainer
of the Year at the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards. Braxton also picked up
her sixth Grammy Award for "He Wasn't Man Enough" which won the 2001
Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and the album was
nominated for Best R&B Album. It won Best R&B/Soul Album at the 2001
American Music Awards, her third win in a row.
In 2002, while gearing up for the release of her fourth studio album,
Braxton discovered she was pregnant with her second child. Knowing that
she wouldn't be able to promote the album properly, she unsuccessfully
lobbied Arista Records to get the label to postpone its release until
after she was to give birth. Arista Records refused and the album was
released as planned in November 2002. It received very little promotion
from Arista and Braxton herself, due to a complicated pregnancy that
confined her to bed rest. Braxton accused the company of being unwilling
to compromise and punishing her from not putting her career over family.
On the show VH1 Inside Out — Family Comes First, she documented the
hardships of being pregnant with her second child at the same time as
promoting an album.
In November 2002, Braxton's fourth studio album More Than a Woman was
released. Opening to an instant commercial disappointment, the album
peaked at number 13, with first week sales of 97,000. The first single,
the The Neptunes-produced, "Hit the Freeway", failed at radio and peaked
at number 86 on the Hot 100. The two singles that followed ("A Better
Man", "Lies, Lies, Lies") also failed to make a dent and missed the Hot
100 completely. Meanwhile, a promotional vinyl was sent out to DJs for
"Give It Back"/"Let Me Show You the Way (Out)".
Prior to the release of the album, a dispute erupted between Braxton and
Irv Gotti when he played a rough cut of "No More Love", a song that he
produced for the album that was to be the first single. Disapproving of
Gotti broadcasting the unfinished track, Braxton withheld it from being
released. The same year, Braxton was further annoyed when Jay-Z used the
same sample of 2Pac's "Me And My Girlfriend" that she had already used on
her track "Me & My Boyfriend" for his and Beyonce's "'03 Bonnie & Clyde".
Furious, Braxton lashed out in a radio interview, accusing Jay-Z and
producer Kanye West of taking money out of her children's college fund.
In April 2003, Braxton abruptly left Arista Records, having been there for
fourteen years, and immediately signed with Blackground Records—headed by
Barry Hankerson, her manager at the time. The change of scenery, however,
did not ultimately help her recording career. As had been the case during
her final years at Arista—Braxton's fifth album, and first release on
Blackground, Libra was released with scant promotion and accumulated poor
In April 2005, Braxton's new label, Blackground/Universal, released
"Please"—the first single from her fifth album, Libra. The album was
originally planned for a June release, but it was pushed back several
times and was finally issued on September 27. Unfortunately for Braxton,
her troubles with weak album promotion and lack of label commitment
weren't over. "Please" peaked at number 36 on Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop
Songs, while altogether missing the Hot 100. The album lacked promotion by
Blackground, causing it to go under the radar of many.
Despite this, Libra still managed to debut at number four on the Billboard
200 selling 114,593 copies in the first week. Libra also peaked at number
two on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Although that is strong for an album
with little to no promotion, it became yet another commercial
disappointment for Braxton. The album's second single, "Trippin' (That's
the Way Love Works)" received less airplay and peaked at number 67 on the
R&B chart. The failure was ascribed to the non-video presence of the
single and lack of label support. The album was certified gold in late
2005 and has since sold 431,000 copies.
Braxton, meanwhile, recorded a song with Il Divo titled "The Time of Our
Lives". The song was used as the official 2006 FIFA World Cup anthem and
was performed at the championship's opening day in Berlin, Germany on June
9. The song was also performed at the closing ceremonies making Braxton
and Il Divo the first artists to be asked to perform for the opening and
closing ceremonies. The song peaked at number seventeen in Germany. As a
result Edel Records decided to re-release Libra in Germany, including a
new album cover, artwork, and the new anthem.
Braxton made an appearance on the season finale of American Idol 5 where
she performed Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto" with soon-to-be winner
On May 19, 2006, the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas announced that
Braxton would replace Wayne Newton as the casino's new headlining act on
August 3, 2006. The show, entitled Toni Braxton: Revealed, was to be
performed six nights a week and was scheduled to run through March 2007.
Braxton Later confirmed that she was extending her show through August
2007. The show became the first headlining show from an African American
performer in Las Vegas to enter the top ten Vegas shows charting. Due to
the success of the show, it was reported that Braxton would extend her
show through August 2008. The singer subsequently took time off after
being hospitalized for chest pains in April 2008. The show was later
cancelled, and it was announced that the show was officially shut down in
order for the singer to focus on her health.
Braxton has been released from her contract with Blackground after a
number of disputes with former manager Barry Hankerson.
On January 12, 2007, Braxton filed a lawsuit in the U.S District Court in
Manhattan against Hankerson for $10 million, alleging "fraud, deception
and double dealing," in addition to mismanaging her relationship with
Arista Records. According to Braxton, Hankerson placed his own personal
financial interests ahead of hers by using "double-talk" to compromise the
relationship between Braxton and her former recording label, Arista
Records, with Hankerson allegedly telling Arista that "Braxton no longer
wanted to record for Arista" and telling Braxton that "Arista was not
interested in working with her anymore". Braxton also accused Hankerson of
failing to send her on request copies of accounting statements, lying
about deals that he made on her behalf and engaging in a vendetta against
her by refusing to provide information to other managers that she sought
to employ to manage her career.
The suit was settled with Braxton returning a $375,000 advance to
Hankerson—who would also receive a percentage of the sales of her next
album—and Hankerson releasing Braxton from her contract with him. The
settlement also limits the companies in which Braxton can sign with.
In early August, various internet websites including TMZ.com and In Touch
Weekly magazine began announcing that Braxton would be appearing on the
seventh season of Dancing with the Stars. The full cast of the next season
of the show was confirmed on August 25, 2008 on Good Morning America,
which confirmed Braxton as a contestant in the season with her partner
being Alec Mazo.
Braxton, Lance Bass, Maurice Greene and Marlee Matlin headlined Dancing
with the Stars winter tour starting in December 2008 and finishing in
In October 2008, it was announced that Braxton signed to Atlantic Records.
In the November 2008 issue of Jet, Braxton discussed her time spent on
Dancing with the Stars as well as dealing with her son's autism. Braxton
also talked about being signed to Atlantic Records and the debut of her
upcoming single. She added that the complete CD is scheduled to come out
in some time in 2009. She also hinted at a cooking show with fellow
Dancing with the Stars competitor, Rocco DiSpirito.
A new song titled "Yesterday" premiered on September 11, 2009 and features
Trey Songz. It was released as the lead single from her sixth studio album
Pulse. "Yesterday" debuted at number 96 on the U.S. Billboard Hot
R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. On the issue dated January 2, 2010, the song made
a massive thirty-nine-spot jump and has now peaked at 12, making it her
highest chart performance since her 2000's single "Just Be a Man About
It", which peaked at number six. It is due for release in the UK on
February 22, 2010.
The song is produced by DJ Frank E and has been released on September 18,
2009, being the first single released by Toni Braxton under Atlantic
Records. "Yesterday" has been available to download since September 29,
2009. Toni Braxton announced in a live webcast on the September 17, 2009,
that her album will feature 12 songs, and that it might include some of
the leaked songs. The album will be released on May 4, 2010 in the US
whilst the U.K release of the album is yet to be confirmed.
Braxton's official website posted two new songs from the upcoming album,
"Hands Tied" and "Make My Heart" on January 29. She performed "Make My
Heart" which was confirmed to be the second single off her album Pulse on
The Wendy Williams Show. "Make My Heart" was written by Lucas Secon and
Makeba Riddick and produced by Lucas Secon.
Toni Braxton was included as apart of the "We Are the World 25 for Haiti"
remake of the 1985 hit "We Are the World" to help benifit the people of
Haiti following the January 12, 2010 magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake in Haiti.
The new version of the song was recorded on February 1, 2010. Music
legends Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie act as Executive Producers aswell
as Wyclef Jean. Other artists involved included Celine Dion, Barbra
Streisand, Janet Jackson, Tony Bennett, Wyclef Jean, Josh Groban, P!nk,
Usher, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Levine, LL Cool J, among
Braxton dated football player Curtis Martin from 1997 to 1998. She then
met musician Keri Lewis when his group, Mint Condition, opened for her on
tour. On April 21, 2001, they got married. On December 2, 2001, she gave
birth to their first child, a son named Denim Cole Braxton-Lewis. The
couple's second son, Diezel Ky Braxton-Lewis, was born on March 31, 2003.
In an October 2006 concert at the Flamingo in Las Vegas, it was reported
that Braxton broke down in tears discussing her son, Diezel, who had
recently been diagnosed with autism. Braxton has been outspoken regarding
her doctor's failure to diagnose Diezel's condition earlier, contending
that if he had been diagnosed earlier, he could have been helped.
As well as becoming a spokeswoman for Autism Speaks, she is also a
spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.
In November 2009, Braxton announced that she and Lewis had separated.
As of August 2007, rumors surfaced that she has been diagnosed with breast
cancer. Toni stated to Access Hollywood that the breast cancer rumors were
false and that her health is in great condition. However, in 2008, she had
a benign lump removed from her breast.
On April 8, 2008, near the end of her two-year run at the Flamingo Hotel,
Braxton was briefly hospitalized and the remaining dates on the show,
which was scheduled to end on August 23, 2008, were canceled. Later, while
appearing on Season 7 of Dancing with the Stars, she stated that she has
been diagnosed with microvascular angina (small vessel disease).
Braxton has appeared on two Disney Broadway shows: "Beauty and the Beast"
(as Belle) in 1998 and "Aida" (as Aida) in 2003. Her role in "Beauty and
the Beast" marked the first (and only) time a black woman commanded the
leading role of Belle on Broadway. (In the UK, Michelle Gayle played the
role in the West End.) It also marked the first time a black woman would
star in a Disney musical on Broadway. In 2001, she made her acting debut
in the feature film Kingdom Come. In August 2005, Braxton announced that
she would be shooting a sitcom pilot for The WB's fall 2006 line-up,
though plans to put the show into full-production fell through when The WB
announced it would cease to exist in fall 2006 (as part of a merger with
UPN to form The CW), She has also starred in the TV sitcom, Kevin Hill.
Braxton has recently completed filming of "The Oogieloves in the Big
Balloon Adventure" alongside Jaime Pressly and Cloris Leachman due to be