I’m going to keep it real; I was only four when Toni Braxton burst onto the scene with her debut single “Love Shoulda Brought You Home” which was featured on the soundtrack to the movie Boomerang starring Eddie Murphy and Halle Berry. I don’t remember anything about the force that was Toni Braxton the superstar as it was happening. What I do remember is that anytime that lady with the short hair was on my television, I was there for the pretty sounds that came out of her mouth. Of course as I aged I came to appreciate the legend that is Toni Braxton. In a society that dances to an ever evolving tune of ‘what have you done for me lately?’, the greatness and contributions of such artists like Braxton, who has turned to reality television to try and put her career back on track, are easily overlooked. But numbers and such never lie.
In the 90s, the music world was set ablaze by several divas of R&B. In the midst of Whitney, Janet, and Mariah ruling the charts was Braxton. Signed to LaFace records under BabyFace and L.A. Reid, Braxton’s first two albums; 1993’s Toni Braxton and 1996’s Secrets each went Diamond. Those two efforts garnered five Grammy awards for Braxton. Secrets also contained Braxton’s biggest-selling and most recognizable hit “Un-break My Heart.” The single ranks as the second best-selling single by a female artist in history. Braxton continued her streak with her third album The Heat released in 2000. She received another Grammy for its lead single “He Wasn’t Man Enough.” Braxton released four more studio albums, the last one was in 2010, Pulse. Those albums have pretty much been slept on. The sultriness that made everyone take notice was as strong as ever on those efforts.
It’s a little frustrating that many of my generation and much of future generations are and will only be aware of Toni Braxton’s existence through reality television. They won’t remember her for that sultry and distinct voice that she was first introduced to the world with. Or the fact that even in the midst of all her personal woes, she, as an artist, has sold over 40 million records worldwide. Or that she has done successful stints on Broadway and in Vegas. All of this is exactly why you should know her.
Braxton recently appeared on The Wendy Williams Show in which she confessed that she no longer has any passion for music. So if the passion ever finds its way back to her heart (twists body into a winning combination of the game Twister) let’s hope that we appreciate the quality that Toni Braxton has been releasing for 20 years. Until then, I guess for the ones that already know what it is, we’ll just keep playing her classics while screaming in between notes: YAAASSSSSS MOTHER TONI, SAAAANNNGG!