Toni Braxton

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Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton 2, 2013.jpg
Toni Braxton at the The Heart Truth Red Dress Collection Fashion Show 2013.
Background information
Birth nameToni Michele Braxton
Born(1967-10-07) October 7, 1967 (age 47)
Severn, Maryland, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)singer-songwriter, pianist, musician, record producer, actress, television personality, philanthropist
InstrumentsVocals, Piano
Years active1989–present
LabelsLaFace, Arista, Blackground, Atlantic, Motown
Associated actsThe Braxtons, Tamar Braxton, Trina Braxton, Babyface, R. Kelly, Kenny G, Lisa Lopes, Method Man & Redman
Websitewww.tonibraxton.com
 
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Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton 2, 2013.jpg
Toni Braxton at the The Heart Truth Red Dress Collection Fashion Show 2013.
Background information
Birth nameToni Michele Braxton
Born(1967-10-07) October 7, 1967 (age 47)
Severn, Maryland, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)singer-songwriter, pianist, musician, record producer, actress, television personality, philanthropist
InstrumentsVocals, Piano
Years active1989–present
LabelsLaFace, Arista, Blackground, Atlantic, Motown
Associated actsThe Braxtons, Tamar Braxton, Trina Braxton, Babyface, R. Kelly, Kenny G, Lisa Lopes, Method Man & Redman
Websitewww.tonibraxton.com

Toni Michele Braxton (born October 7, 1967)[1] is an American R&B singer-songwriter, pianist, musician, record producer, actress, television personality, and philanthropist. Rising to fame in the beginning of the 1990s, Braxton quickly established herself as an R&B icon and became one of the best-selling female artists of the 1990s decade, garnering her honorific titles such as the "Queen of R&B" and being recognized as one of the most outstanding voices of this generation.

Her self-titled debut studio album was released in 1993. It sold over 10 million copies worldwide, spawning such hits as "Another Sad Love Song" and "Breathe Again" and earning Braxton three Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist. Released in 1996, her second album, Secrets, continued her acclaim and mega success, selling over 15 million copies globally. The album spawned the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits "You're Makin' Me High" and "Un-Break My Heart", which became her signature song and the second top-selling single of all time by a female artist. Braxton won two Grammy Awards for Secrets. In 2000, her third album, The Heat, was released. It sold over 4 million copies and included the hit single "He Wasn't Man Enough", for which Braxton won a Grammy Award. She then released three more studio albums - More Than A Woman (2002), Libra (2005) and Pulse (2010), experiencing personal and label conflicts in between these releases. In 2014, Braxton and long-time collaborator Babyface released a duet album entitled Love, Marriage & Divorce.

Throughout her career, Braxton has sold over 66 million records, including 40 million albums, worldwide. She has won six Grammy Awards, nine Billboard Music Awards, seven American Music Awards and several other awards. Aside from her success in music, Braxton has become a television personality, being involved in the 7th season of the reality show Dancing with the Stars and in a reality series entitled Braxton Family Values, starring Braxton and her sisters, since 2011 on WE tv. On September 18, 2011, Braxton was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

Early life[edit]

Braxton and her siblings were raised in a strict religious household,[2] and Braxton's first performing experience was singing in her church choir.[2]

She was born in Severn, Maryland.[citation needed] Her father, Michael Conrad Braxton, Sr., was a Methodist[3][4] clergyman and power company worker, and her mother, Evelyn Jackson, a native of South Carolina, was a former opera singer and cosmetologist, as well as a pastor.[5][6] Braxton's maternal grandfather was also a pastor.[7]

Braxton is the eldest of six siblings. She has a younger brother Michael, Jr. (born in 1968) and four younger sisters Traci (born in 1971), Towanda (born in 1973), Trina (born in 1974), and Tamar (born in 1977). Braxton attended Bowie State University to obtain a teaching degree,[8] but decided to sing professionally after she was discovered by William E. Pettaway, Jr., who reportedly heard her singing to herself while pumping gas.[9]

But according to Braxton during her appearance on the 24 May 2014 broadcast of NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, she was not singing to herself at the gas station. Pettaway, working as an attendant at the Annapolis service station where she was refueling, recognized her from local performances and introduced himself, saying he wanted to produce her. Though skeptical, Braxton decided to, in her words, "take a chance" and accepted.

Career[edit]

1989–95: The Braxtons, album debut Toni Braxton and major success[edit]

Main article: The Braxtons

Braxton and her four sisters (Traci, Towanda, Trina, 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.[10] Though the song was not successful, it attracted the attention of Antonio "L.A." Reid and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.[10] 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,[11] 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.[12] The album, which was primarily produced by Reid, Babyface, and Daryl Simmons, peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart.[13] 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.[14] The album's second single, "Breathe Again" peaked in the top five of both the Hot 100 and R&B singles charts[14] and no 2 in the UK.[15] More singles from Toni Braxton were released in 1994, including "You Mean the World to Me", "Seven Whole Days", and "I Belong to You/How Many Ways".[14]

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).[16] She also won two American Music Awards (for Favorite Soul/R&B New Artist and Favorite New Adult Contemporary Artist)[16] in 1994 and another one in 1995 (for Favorite Soul/R&B Album).[16] Toni Braxton was certified 8x platinum in USA and has sales of over 10 million worldwide.[17][18]

1996–99: Worldwide success with Secrets, bankruptcy and Broadway shows[edit]

In June 1996, Braxton released her second and most successful album, Secrets.[19] 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."[20] Along with Babyface, Braxton also worked with R. Kelly, Tony Rich, and David Foster on the album.[21] 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.[22] 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,[14] the album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 albums chart.[23] "You're Makin' Me High" also topped the R&B singles chart for two weeks[14] and saw similar success in Europe and Asia. The album's second single, "Un-Break My Heart," written and composed by Diane Warren, became the biggest hit of Braxton's career, spending eleven weeks at number one on the Hot 100[10] and also topping the Hot Dance Singles Sales chart for eleven weeks and the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart for four weeks[24] as well as reaching no 2 in the UK[25] 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)[14] and "How Could an Angel Break My Heart;" this last featured Kenny G, with whom Braxton later toured.[26] After 92 weeks in the charts, Secrets was certified 8x platinum, becoming Braxton's second straight 8 million seller. Internationally, Secrets sold more than 15 million copies, thus cementing Braxton's superstar status.[18] Braxton topped the Billboard Year-End Charts as the Top Hot 100 Singles Artist — Female,[27] Top R&B Artist — Female (singles and albums),[24] Top Hot R&B Singles Artist — Female,[24] 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[16] 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.[16]

By 1996, Braxton had sold more than 20 million records; unfortunately, she was still waiting on her financial rewards, eventually launching an unsuccessful lawsuit against Arista and LaFace Records. Soon after, she filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy. Public reaction to these events was very harsh, having been expressed most clearly in an interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show.[28] Upon successfully filing for bankruptcy, Braxton relinquished the rights to many of her valued possessions, including the Grammys and American Music Awards she had previously been granted.

Braxton has appeared on two Disney Broadway shows: She made her Broadway debut as Belle in Beauty and the Beast beginning September 9, 1998 when she replaced Kim Huber.[29] During her run in the show Alan Menken wrote and composed a new song for the musical, titled "A Change in Me," which he specially wrote and composed for Braxton, and was still being used in the musical as of late July of 2014.[30] She left the production on February 28, 1999 and was succeeded by Andrea McArdle.[31] 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 1999, the lawsuit against LaFace Records was settled and Toni was given back all her possessions, giving her time to record The Heat, her first album in 4 years.[32]

2000–01: Return to success with The Heat[edit]

After Braxton's three-year-long dispute with LaFace and Arista had been settled, Toni signed a new $20 million contract. In March 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 and No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. The Heat was released on April 25, 2000, debuting at number two on the Billboard 200 albums chart with first week sales of 194,448 copies sold,[33] 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. One selection on The Heat, titled "Gimme Some," featured a rap verse from TLC star Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes. The album's 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 charts. The Heat was certified double platinum in the US and, by 2002, had sold over 4 million copies worldwide.[10][18]

"The Heat" was nominated for many awards. At the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards, the album's lead-single, "He Wasn't Man Enough," was nominated for Best R&B Song and eventually won a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, while the album itself was nominated for Best R&B Album.[34] She was also nominated for Best R&B/Soul album, Female on the Soul Train Music Awards,[34] but she lost to "Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1" by Jill Scott. She won 2 American Music Awards for Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist and Favorite Soul/R&B Album (The Heat).[34]

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 would be unable 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 either Arista or Braxton herself, due in Braxton's case to the complicated pregnancy that had confined her to bed rest. Braxton accused the company of being unwilling to compromise and punishing her for not putting her career over family.

2002–06: More Than a Woman, new label, and Libra[edit]

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. The first single, 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") were scrapped, failed to make a dent and missed the Hot 100 completely. More Than a Woman was certified gold by RIAA and sold more than 800,000 copies worldwide.[35] 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 Beyoncé's "'03 Bonnie & Clyde".

She then starred in Aida as Aida beginning June 30, 2003 when she replaced Simone[36] and left the cast on November 16, 2003 where she was replaced by Michelle Williams.[37] In 2001, she made her movie acting debut in the feature film Kingdom Come.[38]

In April 2003, Braxton abruptly left Arista Records, having been there for 14 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 (2005) was released.

In 2004, Braxton appeared as herself, voicing a singing character named Toni, in a special episode and DVD release[39] of the children's television show Blue's Clues.[40]

In September 2004, it was announced that Braxton would star in a half-hour sitcom pilot where she would play a version of herself for The WB Television Network's fall 2006-07 line-up, though plans to put the show into full-production fell through once The WB announced it would cease to exist in fall 2006 (as part of a merger with UPN to form The CW).[41] She has also starred in the TV sitcom, Kevin Hill.[42]

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.

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 679,000 copies worldwide.[35]

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.[43]

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 Taylor Hicks.[44]

2006–07: Toni Braxton: Revealed and label conflicts[edit]

Flamingo Las Vegas at night featuring Braxton, January 2007.

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.[45] 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 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.[46]

Braxton was released from her contract with Blackground after a number of disputes with former manager Barry Hankerson in apparent regards to her husband's role in her career.[47]

In an October 2006 concert at the Flamingo Las Vegas, Braxton broke down in tears while announcing to the audience that just before the concert began she had been told that her son, Diezel, had been diagnosed with autism.[48] 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 better.[49] As well as becoming a spokeswoman for Autism Speaks,[50] she is also a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.

In November 2009, Braxton announced through her attorney, Antavius Weems, that she and Lewis had separated.[51]

On January 12, 2007, Braxton filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against her former manager Barry Hankerson for $10 million, alleging "fraud, deception and double dealing", in addition to mismanaging her relationship with Arista Records.[52] 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".[52]

The suit was settled with Braxton being forced to return 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 temporarily limited the companies with which Braxton can sign.[53][54]

2008–10: Dancing with the Stars, Atlantic Records, Pulse and second bankruptcy[edit]

Soul Beach Music Festival press conference, Toni Braxton with Gee Money, May 2010

In August 2008, 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.[55] They were voted off in the fifth week of the competition.

WeekDance/SongJudges' scoreResult
InabaGoodmanTonioli
1ACha-Cha-Cha/ "Smooth"778Safe
1BQuickstep/ "Blue Skies"878Last to Be Called Safe
2Rumba/ "I Can't Make You Love Me"788Safe
3Viennese Waltz/ "Für Elise"877Safe
4Samba/ "De Donde Soy"778Safe
5West Coast Swing/ "The Way You Make Me Feel"778Eliminated

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.

The DJ Frank E produced song "Yesterday" premiered on September 11, 2009 and features Trey Songz.[56] It was released as the lead single from her sixth studio album Pulse.[57] "Yesterday" peaked at No. 12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart making it her highest chart performance since her 2000 single "Just Be a Man About It", which peaked at No. 6. The single has been released worldwide on May 3, 2010.[58] In the UK, "Yesterday" became Braxton's first hit single since the release of "Hit the Freeway", peaking at No. 50 on the UK Singles Chart and at No. 17 on the UK R&B Singles Chart. The song also became a moderate hit in Europe, peaking at No. 20 on the German Singles Chart, at No. 17 on the Swiss Singles Chart and charting at No. 50 on the European Hot 100.

On January 29, 2010, Braxton's official website posted two of the songs from the upcoming album, "Hands Tied" and "Make My Heart". The former peaked at No. 29 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, the latter was sent to dance/club radio.[59] She performed "Make My Heart" on The Wendy Williams Show.

Braxton released her sixth studio album Pulse on May 4, 2010 in the US[60] and on May 10, 2010 in the UK.[61] Despite the fact that 27 songs were leaked, the album consisting of only 11 tracks, debuted at No. 9 on the US Billboard 200 chart and hit No. 1 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, becoming Braxton's fifth US top-ten album. It also achieved moderate chart success around the world. In Canada it debuted at No. 72 on the Top 100 Albums chart and in the United Kingdom it debuted at No. 28 on the Top 40 Albums and at No. 7 on the R&B Albums chart. It entered at No. 18 on the German Album Chart. In Switzerland, the album hit No. 9. Pulse, although a commercial flop, became Toni's first album to chart inside the European Top 100 Albums since her 2000 album The Heat.

On June 28, 2010, Braxton posted a video for Woman.[62]

Braxton was included as part of the "We Are the World 25 for Haiti" remake of the 1985 hit "We Are the World" to help benefit 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 as well as Wyclef Jean. Artists involved included Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Janet Jackson, Tony Bennett, Wyclef Jean, Josh Groban, Pink, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Levine, Justin Bieber, LL Cool J, among others.

According to Braxton, via a lawsuit, TMZ, and VH1's Behind the Music, after her Toni Braxton: Revealed show was abruptly cancelled back in 2008, the insurance agency, Lloyd's of London refused to honor her policy that she purchased for upwards of $70,000 that included financial compensations for financial losses that occurred as results of concert cancellations.[63] The policy was reported to insure Braxton up to $2.8 million.[64][65] Lloyd's of London responded with a counter-suit seeking damages against Braxton and remarked that Braxton's policy was null and void because of an unrelated heart condition that the company was not made aware of at the time the application was filed.[66] Braxton responded to the counter-suit by saying that she did disclose her full medical history at the time.[64][67][68] As a result of the insurance company nullifying Braxton's contract, Braxton has said that she was on the hook for all damages because of the cancelled shows, being sued by multiple companies, and had to once again file for bankruptcy, as announced on October 7, 2010.[69] As of 2013, Braxton has completed required financial management courses and most of her debt has been discharged.[65][70]

Braxton performing in Romania during New Year's Eve 2011.

Later that year rumors began circulating that Braxton was in talks to star in her own reality show with Bravo. Braxton would later confirm the rumors during an appearance on Ellen after a performance of her single "Make My Heart".[71]

2011–2012: Reality television success, Initial retirement from music, and Return to acting[edit]

In January 2011, WE tv confirmed that it had signed Braxton for a reality series, Braxton Family Values, which is marketed as one of the network's flagship shows. The series debuted April 12, 2011, and looks at the relationship between the singer/songwriter Braxton, her mother, and her four sisters; Trina, Tamar, Traci and Towanda — all aspiring singers themselves — along with the interpersonal relationships of each family member. The show also looks at Braxton's heavily publicized separation from estranged husband, singer Keri Lewis.[72] Toni parted ways with her long-time manager Vincent Herbert, who is also husband of sister Tamar Braxton, and signed a new management deal with Los Angeles -based entertainment/production company 'The Collective'.[73]

Braxton completed filming of The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure alongside Jaime Pressly and Cloris Leachman which was released in 2012. Her character — Rosalie Rosebud — is a singer, whose over-the-top personality was apparently inspired by Mariah Carey.[74][75]

Later that year Braxton confirmed work on her eighth studio album.[76] Braxton announced at Mercedes-Benz 2012 Fall/Winter Fashion Week in an interview with Rocco Leo Gaglioti as a part of "Fashion News Live", that she would be releasing a new single titled "I Heart You" in March 2012.[77] Braxton premiered "I Heart You" on March 9, 2012.[78] The song has peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Dance/Club play chart.[79] The music video for "I Heart You" was directed by Bille Woodruff. Shortly after the release of I Heart You rumors began circulating that Braxton would soon retire. These rumors would later be confirmed by Braxton herself On February 7, 2013. Braxton flew to Canada to begin shooting for her lead role in Twist of Faith later that year. Braxton appeared on Good Morning America to promote her new movie when she also confirmed the rumors of her retirement revealing that she is retiring from music and stated that she would like to focus on acting: "I have to do shows here and there, but I’m not gonna do any albums, I’m falling out of love with it, it’s weird. I don’t know what to say when I hear songs. They don’t impact me. I’ve been trying to listen to songs, record companies have been calling me, so it’s a good situation to be in, but I’m not really interested at all".[80] Twist of Faith premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network February 9, 2013.

2013–Present: Love, Marriage and Divorce, Return to Broadway and Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir[edit]

In June 2013, Braxton announced that she was returning to music with a Summer Tour and that she was in the studio working on her eighth studio album. She also stated that the album will not be a traditional album but rather a collaboration album featuring long-time collaborator Babyface. The album will entirely consist of duets between Braxton and Babyface. Babyface said that "The whole perspective is guy and girl, Mars vs. Venus. Even if you're in love, you're in love for different reasons", while Braxton added: “I think because Babyface and I have both gone through divorces, we can relate and we can collaborate together on this topic and make it so others who have gone through this situation can relate". The album Love, Marriage & Divorce was released on February 4, 2014, under Motown Records. The 2013 Summer Tour kicked off in Las Vegas on August 9, 2013 and ended in Atlanta on August 31, 2013. The lead single from Love, Marriage & Divorce "Hurt You" premiered on August 17, 2013.[81][82] The song attained success, claiming the No. 1 spot on two charts: the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart for four weeks, and the Urban Adult Contemporary (Urban AC) for the week ending Dec. 14, 2013. This marked Braxton's seventh No. 1 hit on the Adult R&B Songs chart and first since her 2000 release "Just Be a Man About It".[83] The song also hit number 16 on Billboard Hot R&B/ Hip Hop Airplay chart.[84][85] The second single from the album, "Where Did We Go Wrong?" peaked at No. 11 on the Adult R&B Songs chart.[86] The album was also nominated for World's Best Album at the 2014 World Music Awards.

In September 2013, it was announced that Braxton would make her return to Broadway alongside collaborator Babyface in Broadway's After Midnight. They are scheduled to perform from March 18–31, 2014 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. In succession, they will be third in rotation in the role of "Special Guest Star" following Fantasia Barrino and KD Lang.[87]

On January 20, 2014, Braxton announced that she will be releasing a memoir titled Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir through Harper Collins Publishers. Braxton will discuss her career success and struggles and the self healing she took charge of after her diagnosis with the auto-immune disease lupus and her son's diagnosis with autism. Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir is due to be released May 20, 2014.[88]

Artistry[edit]

Braxton has been recognized for her distinctive dramatic contralto voice.[89][90] Her voice has been called "husky, sultry, elegant and sexy."[91] Due to the huskiness of her voice, Braxton often used male singers such as Michael McDonald, Luther Vandross and Stevie Wonder as vocal style models.[92] Chaka Khan and Anita Baker were two of the few female singers that she could stylize. Steve Huey of AllMusic cites a key to Braxton's success is the versatility of her voice, which he states as being "soulful enough for R&B audiences, but smooth enough for adult contemporary; sophisticated enough for adults, but sultry enough for younger listeners; strong enough in the face of heartbreak to appeal to women, but ravishing enough to nab the fellas."

Braxton began her career singing traditional R&B and adult contemporary ballads and love songs on her debut and second albums. However, hip-hop soul and dance music elements begun to get spun into her sound on The Heat,[93] More Than a Woman,[94] and Pulse. She also showcased her classical training while performing in Broadway plays Beauty and the Beast and Aida as well as her duet with Il Divo, "The Time of Our Lives".

Legacy[edit]

Toni Braxton became an immediate R&B superstar after the release of her first album. LA Reid stated during an interview with VH1: "We called her the first lady of LaFace. She was our Diva. Clive had Whitney, Tommy had Mariah and we had Toni." BBC called the album "spiritedly, mature soul at its best – and just urban enough to make it the bedroom album for the hip hop generation." [95] Braxton had the sound of R&B greats like Anita Baker and the sex appeal to compete with fellow superstars Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Over the span of her career Braxton has sold over 66 million records,[citation needed] including 40 million albums,[96] worldwide. Braxton's musical catalog contains many classics that have won her many accolades. Her greatest is "Un-Break My Heart", the Diane Warren-penned ballad that spent 11-weeks at number 1. Bob McCann, author of Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television (2010), considered it "simply one of the most haunting R&B records ever made." Reviewer Mark Edward Nero named it one of the best R&B break-up songs and considered it Braxton's "finest moment". He further commented, "damn, this song is so sad it can make people cry for hours at a time." It's Braxton's ability to capture her audience that plays a factor in her continuous success.[citation needed] Braxton is a recipient of six Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, and nine Billboard Music Awards.[citation needed]

Throughout Braxton's career she made several impacts on fashion mostly for her legendary high splits in her dresses. Her now famous Richard Tyler white satin gown has gone down in history as one of the most revealing and sexiest dresses. In 2011, Braxton topped the list for the Grammy Award's best dressed of the decade.[97] "I've always gone a little risque with all my other award show outfits." [98] In 2012, Braxton made the list for [[VH1]'s] 50 Greatest Women in Music. Braxton's 2000 performance at Super Bowl XXXIV is ranked as one of the most memorable Super Bowl performances.[99] Braxton cemented her diva status in the music industry in 2006, with her Las Vegas residency Toni Braxton: Revealed, by becoming the first African American performer in Las Vegas to have her act enter the top ten Vegas shows charting.[citation needed] Braxton also made headlines for her signature and legendary Giantto Million Dollar Microphone that she performed every show with. Braxton said: "I think it's a great element to the show. You have to have a little sprinkle of Liberace and this is my little sprinkle of that." Braxton's famous prop was made up of white gold and encrusted with 650 karats of diamonds.[100] The microphone reportedly cost $1 million.[citation needed]

Braxton's legacy has inspired countless other artists. For example, R&B artist Sevyn Streeter cites Braxton as an influence on her career. Streeter posted to her website after meeting Braxton at the Soul Train Awards: "Ran into this remarkable woman @tonibraxton backstage at the @soultrain awards!!!! yup, I freaked out .....can't tell in this pic but the freak out was real Lol!" R&B singer Fantasia confessed her admiration for Braxton in an interview with Singer's Room: "I watched the Braxton show and I was listening to Toni Braxton...she was talking about how she lost the passion and the love for music, and I almost broke down and cried." [101] Braxton has also been referenced by many of today's Hip-Hop/R&B artist such as Ludacris in the song "Wet the Bed", from Chris Brown's album F.A.M.E. (2009).[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Braxton met musician Keri Lewis when his group, Mint Condition, opened for her on tour; they married on April 21, 2001. In 2001, she gave birth to their first child, a son named Denim Cole Braxton-Lewis. In 2002, while gearing up for the release of her fourth studio album, Braxton discovered she was pregnant with her second child; the complicated pregnancy confined her to bed rest. The couple's second son, Diezel Ky Braxton-Lewis, was born in March 2003. As Diezel has been diagnosed with autism, Braxton has become very involved with Autism Speaks, serving as their International Spokesperson. In November 2009, through her attorney Antavius Weems, Braxton announced that she and her husband had separated.

Braxton's godsister is Toi Garcia, a former Auburn University gymnast.[102]

Health problems[edit]

As of August 2007, rumors surfaced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Braxton 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).

On November 18, 2010, Braxton admitted to CBS News that she had been diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a potentially life-threatening autoimmune disease. Braxton's brother is also a carrier of the disease, and her uncle died of complications from lupus. While taping her reality series Braxton Family Values, she went in for surgery. Braxton was hospitalized in Los Angeles in December 2012 because of "minor health issues" related to lupus.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Solo

Duet

Christmas albums[edit]

Tours[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Arrested Development
Grammy Award for Best New Artist
1994
Succeeded by
Sheryl Crow