Toni Braxton is the oldest of six children. Her father was a clergyman, and the
Braxton children were raised in a strict religious household. Braxton's first
performing experience was singing with a church choir. She attended Bowie State
University to obtain a teaching degree but decided to pursue a musical career.
She and her four sisters (Traci, Trina, Towanda and Tamar) performing as The Braxtons, released their first single The Good Life in 1990. This single
attracted the attention of producer Antonio "L.A." Reid which led to Braxton
recording demos of songs written for Anita Baker for a new
Eddie Murphy film,
Boomerang. Pregnant, Baker passed and suggested the "girl in the demos". That
was the break Braxton needed, and her song ""Love Shoulda Brought You Home"
ended up on the soundtrack to Boomerang in 1992.
In 1993, Braxton released her self-titled debut album, Toni Braxton, under LaFace/Arista with anticipation from the single "Love Shoulda Brought You Home" from the Boomerang soundtrack which was also featured on the debut.
The album was a critical and popular success peaking at number-one on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart where it remained for two weeks.
Along with "Love Shoulda Brought You Home", Toni Braxton also featured the 1993 U.S. top ten hit singles "Another Sad Love Song" and "Breathe Again" and the 1994 singles "Seven Whole Days," "You Mean The World To Me," and "How Many Ways". "Breathe Again" topped the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart.
During this era, Braxton won several awards including a Grammy Award for Best New Artist and two American Music Awards for Favorite Soul/R&B New Artist and Favorite New Adult Contemporary Artist.
Toni Braxton entered the studio in 1995 to start recording her sophomore album, Secrets. The album, released in 1996, is her most successful work to date. Braxton, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, and Antonio "L.A." Reid stuck to the same formula with this album but added more soul to the music. 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 a Princess Diana memorial album.
With help from the first single from the album, "You're Makin' Me High", which became Braxton's first number-one hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, the album debuted at number-two on the Billboard 200. "You're Makin' Me High" also topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks charts for two weeks each.
The second single from the album, Braxton's signature ballad "Un-Break My Heart" written by Diane Warren, spent eleven weeks at number-one on the Hot 100 chart and also topped the Dance Music Maxi-Singles Sales chart for eleven weeks and the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart for four weeks.
Other singles from the album included "I Don't Want To" (which also topped the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart), "I Love Me Some Him" and the above-mentioned "How Could An Angel Break My Heart" which featured Kenny G, who Braxton later toured with.
During this era, Braxton also took a turn at modeling when she participated in the "Fashion Week" shows in New York City and became a temporary runway model for the designs of Mark Bower. Secrets was certified 5x platinum.
Braxton topped the Billboard Year-End Charts as the Top Hot 100 Singles Artist - Female, Top R&B Artist - Female (singles & albums), Top Hot R&B Singles Artist - Female, Top Hot Dance Club Play Artist, Top Hot Adult Contemporary Artist, and with the Top Hot Dance Club Play Single and Top Hot Adult Contemporary Track ("Un-Break My Heart"). She was also nominated for two American Music Awards for Favorite Female Artist Rock/Pop and Favorite Female Artist Soul/R&B.
In 1998, Toni Braxton filed a lawsuit against her label, LaFace/Arista. She claimed that she had fulfilled what her original seven-year contract with the label had required, and she wished to be released from her contract. Arista, however, had not agreed to let Braxton go. It was reported that she had received far less for her two albums than most artists of her status. With only two album releases, Braxton had sold over 15 million albums at that point.
At the end of January, Braxton filed for bankruptcy protection with liabilities
totaling more than $1 million. The filing was a result of recent disputes over
her contract with Arista. Her publicist said of the action: "...the only
sensible option... She is confident that with the court's protection, she will
be able to make a fresh start."
A bankruptcy judge ruled in Braxton's favor by denying the dismissal of the claim (as filed by her record label). Braxton has said of the lawsuit: "I can't talk about the suit, but I love those guys very much. It's just business."
Also to add to the bad year, Braxton's then fiance, Curtis Martin of the New York Jets, ended his relationship with her leaving Braxton hurt and without a record contract.
By Feburary of of 1999, Braxton had resolved her conflicts with her record label and began recording new material with the label. Babyface told MTV: "We're getting ready to head back in the studio with Toni and we've got everything worked out..." Braxton's new deal with Laface/Arista was worth a reported $25 million.
In January of 2000, Braxton released her first single since the bankcruptcy filing and since 1998. "He Wasn't Man Enough" was released to radio and peaked at #2 on Billboard Hot 100 in June.
In April, Braxton released her long awaited album The Heat, and it debuted at #2 on Billboard 200 albums chart with first week sales of 205,000 and stayed in the top 20 of the chart for 15 consecutive weeks.
Toni Braxton's second single from the album, "Just Be A Man About It", peakead at #32 on the Hot 100, while "Spanish Guitar" was less successful and peaked at #98.
Toni Braxton's music video for "He Wasn't Man Enough" 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 Year. Braxton also 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 became engaged to keyboardist Keri Lewis of Mint Condition, and they married in April of 2001. In June, she gave birth to her first child, a son named Denim Cole Braxton-Lewis.
In November of 2002, Braxton released her fourth studio album More Than A Woman. It was Braxton's lowest debut yet on the Billboard 200 albums chart at #13 with first week sales of 95,000. The only single released from that album was "Hit The Freeway" featuring Loon, which only managed to peak at #82 on the Hot 100.
In April of 2003, Braxton gave birth to her second child, a son named Diezel Ky Braxton-Lewis. During that same month, she announced that she had left her home of twelve years, Arista Records, and was signing with Blackground/Universal headed by her manager at the time, Barry Hankerson. Some reports stated that Braxton had signed an $18 million contract with the label.
In April of 2005, Braxton released her new single "Please" digitally and to radio. She had planned for a June release of her new album, but it was pushed back. Libra is now planned to be released on September 27 on Blackground/Universal.
The album's second single is planned to be "Trippin' (That's The Way Love Works)".
In September, Toni Braxton hosted the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards and also opened the show with a performance of "Please".
Braxton will also be headlining the 3rd Annual VH1 Save The Music special.
Toni Braxton has appeared on Broadway in two Disney shows, "Beauty and the Beast" (as Belle) in 1998 and "Aida" (as Aida) in 2003.
In 2001, Toni Braxton made her acting debut in the film Kingdom Come.
In August 2005, Braxton announced plans to start her own sitcom on The WB for the fall 2006 line-up.
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