Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on April 26, 1970. She was one of the original members of TLC, an all-female R&B trio that also included Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and had many hits in the 1990s. After TLC ended with Lopes' death in 2002, Watkins became known as a television personality and an advocate for victims of sickle cell anemia, an illness she has had since her childhood.
Early Life and Career
Tionne Tenese Watkins, best known by her stage name "T-Boz," was born on April 26, 1970, in Des Moines, Iowa. Her parents, James and Gayle Watkins, moved the family to Atlanta when Watkins was 9 years old. Watkins was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia as a child and was hospitalized several times for her illness; as a teen, she was still learning to cope with the disease and its treatment.
The TLC Years
When Watkins was 21 years old and was working in a hair salon in Atlanta, she auditioned for an all-female vocal trio that was being put together by singer Crystal Jones. Jones chose Watkins and Lisa Lopes to join her in 2nd Nature, which was soon renamed TLC; after the group was signed to a record label, one of the label's executives replaced Jones with Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas. Watkins adopted the stage name of "T-Boz."
TLC's smooth blend of R&B, funk and rap, featuring Watkins's distinctive raspy vocals, was showcased in four albums, beginning with 1992's Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip. The group would rack up four No. 1 chart hits ("Creep," "Waterfalls," "No Scrubs" and "UnPretty"), and their Grammy Award-winning second album, CrazySexyCool, sold more than 10 million units. The three women made a screen appearance in the comedy House Party 3 (1994), and Watkins played a more serious role in the crime drama Belly in 1998.
When Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes died in a car accident in 2002, the group dissolved. TLC's musical style and their body of work, with songs that addressed serious issues of self-esteem and safe sex as well as partying and flirtation, have influenced many other performers.
Career After TLC
In the 2000s, Watkins shifted to other forms of entertainment in her career. She and Rozonda Thomas teamed up on the reality-television series R U the Girl? in 2005. Watkins competed on Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice in 2009 and appeared in a reality show about her own life, titled Totally T-Boz, in 2013. She also gained experience as a producer, working on the comedy-drama film ATL (2006) and a 2013 TLC biopic called CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.
She published a book of her own poems, titled Thoughts, in 1999.
Watkins married rapper Mack 10 (Dedrick D-Mon Rolison) in 2000, and the couple had a daughter named Chase Anela the same year. They divorced in 2004.
Watkins was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2006; she underwent surgery to have the tumor removed and underwent several years of physical therapy for full recovery.
Still living with sickle cell anemia, Watkins decided to reach out to other individuals affected by the disease by becoming a spokesperson for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America in 1996. The proceeds from her solo single "Champion," released in 2013, were donated to charities that assist victims of sickle cell disease and other blood disorders.
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