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Toni Braxton is an R&B singer-songwriter and actress best known for the hits "Un-Break My Heart," "You Mean the World to Me" and "Breathe Again."
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Born in Maryland in 1967, Toni Braxton's big break came after Bill Pettaway overheard her singing to herself at a gas station, and subsequently helped Braxton land a record deal with Arista. In 1992, she caught another big break when she was asked to fill in for Anita Baker and sing on the soundtrack for the film Boomerang. The following year, Braxton released her debut self-titled album,
"My heart isn't in it anymore. I hate to say that. For what I do I have to love it. I have to feel that excitement and it's gone."
[On her February 2013 decision to retire as a recording artist.]
garnering wide acclaim for singles like "You Mean the World to Me" and "Breathe Again." She later scored a megahit with "Un-Break My Heart," included on her second studio album, Secrets (1996). In addition to her successful recording career, Braxton made history in September 1998, when she became first black actress to play Belle in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast.
Toni Michelle Braxton was born on October 7, 1967, in Severn, Maryland, to parents Michael Braxton, a minister, and his wife, Evelyn. Brought up in a strict, religious household that prohibited any sort of engagement with popular culture, 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 household rules, allowing their daughters to gain more exposure to soul and rock singers like Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan.
For Toni especially, music became a central component in her life. She entered a number of local talent shows, and also collaborated considerably with her sisters. Following her graduation from high school, Braxton planned on becoming a music teacher, but was easily swayed to leave college when songwriter Bill Pettaway overheard Braxton singing to herself at a gas station. Pettaway, who had recently penned Milli Vanilli's "Girl You Know It's True" hit single, was moved by Braxton's husky, driving voice. With his help, Braxton landed a record contract with Arista Records for both her and her sisters.
The Braxtons, as the sisters called themselves, released the single "The Good Life" in 1990. While not a huge hit, it did manage to catch the ear of producers Antonio "L.A." Reid and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, who signed Toni to a new deal to the Arista subsidiary, LaFace Records.
In 1992, Braxton caught her first big break when she was asked to fill in for Anita Baker and sing for the soundtrack to the Eddie Murphy movie, Boomerang. The album gave Braxton significant exposure and helped her secure her first big hit: the single "Love Shoulda Brought You Home."
A year after the Boomerang soundtrack, Braxton released her eponymous debut album. The record more than met the enthusiasm that had built up around it prior to its release. With hits like "Breathe Again," "You Mean the World to Me" and "Another Love Song," the record went on to sell more than 8 million copies. It also earned Braxton a pair of Grammy Awards, for best new artist and best female R&B vocal performance.
In 1996, Braxton released her second studio album, Secrets, which included the monster single "Un-Break My Heart" and the hit "You Make Me High." At the 1997 Grammy Awards, Braxton won two Grammys: one for best female R&B vocal performance and one for best female R&B pop vocal performance.
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