Toni Braxton is an American R&B singer-songwriter who has won six Grammy Awards in her career and has sold over 60-million records worldwide. She has a contralto vocal range.
Braxton was born in Severn, Maryland, to Michael Braxton, a minister, and his wife, Evelyn. Brought up in a Christian household that prohibited listening to secular music, Toni and her four younger sisters began singing at an early age at their father's church.
Over time, Michael and Evelyn Braxton eased their rules, allowing their daughters to watch Soul Train and gain exposure to singers like Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan.
Music quickly became a central component in Toni's life and she entered local talent shows while collaborating with her sisters. Following high school, Toni attended Bowie State University where she planned on becoming a music teacher.
While filling her car up at a local gas station and singing to herself, Toni caught the ear of producer and songwriter Bill Pettaway. Pettaway was moved by Braxton's husky, lush voice and with his help, Toni landed a record contract with Arista for her and her sisters, who Pettaway envisioned as the female version of The Jackson Five.
In 1990, The Braxtons released a single, The Good Life, and got a call from producers L.A. Reid and Kenny Babyface Edmonds, who'd just started record label LaFace with Arista.
They decided not to sign the group, because they'd just signed the trio TLC, but they were looking for a solo female artist and loved Toni's voice. So the girls talked it over and Toni decided to embark on her now famous solo career.
Toni's debut album, Toni Braxton, was released in 1993 and spawned hits Another Sad Love Song, You Mean The World To Me and Breathe Again, resulting in three Grammys and two American Music Awards.
Critics deemed the singer the next Anita Baker or Whitney Houston, but Braxton dismissed the comparison.
Toni's follow-up album, Secrets, was on the charts for 92 weeks and went platinum 8x. The hit song Un-Break My Heart is still considered Toni's biggest international single.
Toni also contributed to the soundtrack for Waiting to Exhale with the megahit Let it Flow and had a successful run with her Vegas show, Toni Braxton Revealed. In addition, she starred in two Broadway hit shows, Aida and Beauty and the Beast, where she made history as the first black actress playing Belle.
Along with her six Grammys, Toni is a mother to sons Denim and Diezel, and is the spokesperson for Autism Speaks. In 2001 she married Kery Lewis, keyboardist of Mint Condition, and they separated in late 2009.
In 2011, Toni moved to Los Angeles to embark further into the theatrical side of her career and to receive better medical attention for Lupus, which she's been diagnosed with. She also began starring in the reality series Braxton Family Values, with her mother and sisters.