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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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But instead of getting the chance to dig into the hard work of creating a third album, Braxton got into contract wrangling with Arista. At issue was Braxton's claim that she deserved to receive a larger cut from her record sales. To further drive home the point that she wasn't making enough, Braxton filed for bankruptcy in 1998.
Unable to reconcile her contractual issues, Braxton suspended her studio work and headed to acting,
where she made history in September 1998 by becoming the first black actress to play Belle in a Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. The musical, which featured a song written specifically for Braxton, was a huge success.
Soon, Braxton and record executives were back at the negotiating table, and following an agreement in 1999, the singer-songwriter released her third album, The Heat. Largely stripped of the "lost love" themes that had greatly shaped her two previous studio releases, Braxton's new album gave the singer's fans a fresher, more confident Braxton. It also featured two hit singles: "He Wasn't Man Enough for Me" and "Just Be a Man About It."
In 2010, Braxton released her seventh studio album, Pulse, which was issued by Atlantic Records. She also continued to pursue other types of performance work. The lineup included her own reality television series, Toni Braxton: Revealed, and a short stint on the hit dance-competition show Dancing with the Stars.
In January 2011, media outlets began reporting that Braxton would be returning to the small screen with a new reality series, Braxton Family Values. The show, which debuted in April 2011 on WE tv, follows Toni and her sisters as they pursue their respective careers in show business.
She accomplished all of these successes while also battling health issues. She's been treated for hypertension as well as pericarditis, a viral infection of the sac surrounding the heart. More significantly, in November 2010, the singer told the world she was battling Lupus. The announcement shook her fellow recording artists, most notably Lady Gaga, who has family members who've dealt with the deadly autoimmune disease. "Toni, your strength is admirable," Lady Gaga wrote in a message to Braxton. "As a woman whose family as been affected by Lupus, I understand your struggle and have you in my thoughts."
More bad news followed in late 2010, when Braxton announced that she was again filing for bankruptcy. Some reports stated that she owed as much as $50 million.
In early 2012, Braxton announced that she had begun working on a new album. That spring, she released the single "I Heart You"—thought to be the first single off the singer's new project at the time. But fans' excitement over what would be Braxton's eighth studio project soon fizzled out when, on February 8, 2013, Braxton announced plans to retire from her career as a recording artist. Signaling the end of her 20-year recording career, Braxton's announcement, made during her guest appearance on Good Morning America, came as a big shock to many—especially since the singer-songwriter's previous statements regarding her future retirement seemed to center on a final album release.
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