Character: Nina Yarber
Her distinctive sultry vocal blend of R&B, pop, jazz and gospel became an instantaneous international sensation when she came forth with her first solo recording in 1992. Today, with over 60 million albums sold worldwide and six GRAMMY Awards, Toni Braxton is recognized as one of the most outstanding voices of this generation.
Born a preacher’s child and raised in a strict religious household, Braxton’s first professional experience was singing in the church choir. She went on to perform in a group with her four sisters (Traci, Trina, Towanda and Tamar) that were signed to Arista Records. Her talent was recognized by Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and soon her solo recording career was launched. Her music first came to widespread popularity on the soundtrack of the Eddie Murphy film “Boomerang.” The resulting “Toni Braxton” album sold 10 million copies worldwide, spawning the classics “Another Sad Love Song” and “Breathe Again.” The album also resulted in her first two GRAMMYs in 1993 as Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “Another Sad Love Song” and another GRAMMY in the same category in 1994 for “Breathe Again.” In 1997 she garnered GRAMMYs in Best R&B and Best Pop Female Vocal Performance categories.
The acclaim for her second album “Secrets” continued her mega success, selling over 13 million copies in the US and abroad following its July 1996 release. “You’re Makin’ Me High” became her first across-the-board #1 Pop and R&B hit single and garnered another GRAMMY for R&B Vocal Performance. Release of “Unbreak My Heart” followed in the fall of 1996 and was recognized with the coveted GRAMMY for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. It has become her signature song, and ranks as the second top-selling single of all time by a female artist. The next album, “The Heat,” sold two million copies and brought her another million-selling single and the Best R&B GRAMMY with “He Wasn’t Man Enough.”
Toni Braxton has successful runs on Broadway starring in “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aida.” In 2006, she headlined her own show, “Toni Braxton Revealed” at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. The show which ran through April 2008, was a smash, but in the middle of the extended run she was diagnosed with micro vascular angina causing her to cancel the remaining dates. After a recovery period, she took time in 2008 to fulfill her dream of appearing on the top-rated television show “Dancing with the Stars.”
Today, Braxton balances the demands of her career with the high priorities of family, health and public service as she raises her two sons Denim (10) and Diezel (9). Regarding her youngest child’s Autism, Braxton is giving a message of hope that wasn’t quite the case for her a few years ago. “Today, Diezel is talking and attending a mainstream school. He still needs occupational therapy, but he is a wonderful example of what can happen with early detection and intervention.”
In addition to being a spokesperson for Autism Speaks, Braxton is also active with the American Heart Association. Braxton was more recently diagnosed with Lupus. She announced her health struggle publicly as she accepted the Lupus LA award for “Women of Achievement.”
Most recently, Braxton is enjoying huge success with her “Braxton Family Values” reality show on the WE TV network which will begin its new season on March 7. Braxton also stars in the Lifetime movie “Twist of Faith,” which will premiere on February 9. Braxton had a #1 dance hit on the Billboard charts this past summer with “I Heart You,” that will be on her fourth-coming album expected later in the year.