Toni Michele Braxton (born October 7, 1967) is an American singer, songwriter, pianist, record producer, actress, television personality, and philanthropist. Braxton has sold over 67 million records worldwide, including 41 million albums. She is one of the highest-selling female R&B artists in history. Braxton has won seven Grammy Awards, nine Billboard Music Awards, seven American Music Awards, and numerous other accolades. In 2011, Braxton was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
In the late 1980s, Braxton began performing with her sisters in a music group known as The Braxtons; the group was signed to Arista Records. After attracting the attention of producers Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and being signed to LaFace Records, Braxton released her self-titled debut studio album in 1993. The album reached number one on the Billboard 200 chart and sold 10 million copies worldwide. In addition, the singles “Another Sad Love Song” and “Breathe Again” became international successes. The album brought Braxton three Grammy Awards, including the Grammy for Best New Artist.
Braxton experienced continued success with the albums Secrets (1996), which included the U.S. #1 hit singles “You’re Makin’ Me High/Let It Flow” and “Un-Break My Heart”; and The Heat (2000), which opened at #2 on the Billboard 200 and included the U.S. #2 hit single “He Wasn’t Man Enough”. Braxton’s subsequent studio albums, More Than a Woman (2002), Libra (2005), and Pulse (2010), were released amid contractual disputes and health issues. In 2014, Braxton and long-time collaborator Babyface released a duet album entitled Love, Marriage & Divorce that earned the duo a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album in 2015. In 2018, Braxton released her ninth studio album, Sex & Cigarettes.
Braxton is also a television executive producer and personality. She competed in the seventh season of the reality competition series Dancing with the Stars. She has executive produced and starred in Braxton Family Values, a reality television series that has aired on We TV since 2011. Braxton is also an executive producer of Tamar & Vince, a spinoff reality TV series starring her younger sister, Tamar.
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, a mature soul at its best – and just urban enough to make it the bedroom album for the hip hop generation. “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, including 40 million albums, 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, the 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. Braxton is a recipient of seven Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, and nine Billboard Music Awards.
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. “I’ve always gone a little risque with all my other award show outfits.”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. Braxton is featured alongside other R&B and pop divas as a primary character on the popular web parody Got 2B Real: The Diva Variety Show. 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. 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 carats of diamonds. The microphone reportedly cost $1 million.
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 involved with Autism Speaks, serving as their International Spokesperson. In November 2009 Braxton announced that she and her husband had separated. The couple later divorced in July 2013.
In her early 30s, Braxton had an abortion after discovering she was pregnant with then-boyfriend Keri Lewis. In her memoir Unbreak my Heart, Braxton discusses her abortion and guilt, saying that her son Diezel’s autism was “God’s payback.”
Braxton was dating rapper Birdman in May 2016, and the couple announced their engagement in February 2018. In January 2019, the couple had called off the engagement. However, in April 2019, both Braxton and Birdman confirmed that they were still together.
On July 8, 2015, Braxton’s attorney, Antavius Weems, announced that Braxton had settled her contentious child support case with her former husband, Keri Lewis. On June 2, 2016, the city and county officials of Atlanta, Georgia, named June 2 as Toni Braxton Day.
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 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.