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Toni Braxton – A Legendary Life

Getting Started

Toni Braxton’s career is nothing short of legendary. Born on October 7, 1967, she is the eldest sister of all six siblings. Toni’s mother, Evelyn, was an opera singer, so it comes as no surprise that Toni fell in love with singing. At a young age, Toni and her sisters started singing in their church choir. By the late ‘80s, Toni and her sisters — Traci, Towanda, Trina and Tamar — formed their singing group, The Braxtons.

The Good Life

The group was signed to Arista Records and released their first single “The Good Life” in 1990. After the single release, Toni caught the attention of L.A. Reid and Babyface. As Toni began to work with the duo, she recorded a demo for “Love Shoulda Brought You Home.” The song was originally for Anita Baker but was ultimately given to Toni. The track also landed on the soundtrack of Eddie Murphy’s movie, Boomerang.

After working with L.A. Reid and Babyface, the duo signed Toni as the first female artist to their Arista-distributed imprint, LaFace Records, in 1991. From there, Toni started releasing solo music and perfecting her craft. In 1993, Toni released her long-awaited self-titled debut album, Toni Braxton. The album was well received by the masses and immediately climbed the charts, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Her hit records “Another Sad Love Song,” “Breathe Again” and “You Mean the World to Me” all hit the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 charts. After all of the enormous success, Toni Braxton was on top. Toni dominated the charts and consecutively won award after award. From Grammys to American Music Awards, the singer was unstoppable. By 1995, she had sold over 10 million copies internationally from her debut album. In 1996, Toni dropped her second album, Secrets, and that did phenomenally as well. The album consisted of singles such as “You’re Making Me High” and “Un-Break My Heart,” which were some of her major hits. “You’re Making Me High” became her first No. 1 on the Hot 100 singles chart and her second single, “Un-Break My Heart,” spent eleven consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 charts. Little did Toni know the smash hit would be her most successful record to date. By the end of 1996, Toni had sold more than 20 million records.

Seemingly enough, Toni’s record sales success would translate into financial gains. However, for the singer, they didn’t. By the end of 1997, Toni filed a lawsuit to get out of her contract with LaFace. She did not feel as though her pay from the label was equivalent to her success. This lawsuit battle proved to be a difficult case for the star but ultimately, in 1999, the two parties reached a settlement.

Turning Up the Heat

By 2000, Toni would go back to working with LaFace Records to release her third studio album, The Heat. Her first single off of the album, “He Wasn’t Man Enough For Me,” peaked at No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Chart and No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart. When the complete album officially dropped in April 2000, it debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Toni was seeing as much success with this album as she did with her prior albums. She went on to win numerous awards for the records on the album.

In the early 2000s, Toni explored the world of acting and was cast in movies like Kingdom Come in 2001 and VH1’s Play’d: A Hip-Hop Story in 2002, to name a few. Throughout the early 2000s, Toni continued to work on music and release albums. The star also performed in Broadway plays and starred in lead roles such as Aida in Aida and Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in 1998. In 2003, the singer officially left Arista Records and signed to Blackground Records, releasing her Libra album in 2005. The album did not have the same success as her previous albums with Arista. However, the starlet didn’t let it hold her back. In 2006, Toni went on to replace Wayne Newton as the headlining act at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Vegas. Her show, Toni Braxton: Revealed, would go on to be very successful for the next two years and ended in 2008. Toni then transitioned into being a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. She stayed strong in the competition until she and her partner were voted off by the fifth week.

The Reality

In 2011, Toni and her family joined WEtv for their reality show Braxton Family Values. The show features all of her family members and continues to be a hit for the network. In 2013, Toni made her return to music and went on a summer tour. Toni teamed up with Babyface to collaborate on their Love, Marriage & Divorcealbum, which was released in 2014. Their single “Hurt You” did well on the charts. 

A Legacy Unfolds

In 2015, Toni began working on her eighth studio album, Sex & Cigarettes. The singer released her first single off of the album, “Deadwood,” in September of this year. Toni’s longevity in the industry has proven her to be a legend in her own right. She continues to succeed no matter what setbacks fall in her way. Toni Braxton’s determination and career truly make her legendary.

Soul Train Awards ‘18

Sunday, Nov. 25 8P/7C

Hosted by Tisha Campbell & Tichina Arnold

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