Toni Michele Braxton was born in Severn, Maryland and is the oldest of six siblings, with a younger brother and four younger sisters.
Her mother, Evelyn, was a former opera singer and a pastor and her father, Michael Conrad Braxton, Sr. was a Methodist clergyman. Braxton and her siblings were raised in a strict religious household, and Braxton first began to sing in her church choir.
Braxton and her four sisters, Traci, Towanda, Trina and Tamar, formed the singing group “The Braxtons” in the late 1980s and were signed to Arista Records in 1989. Their first single, “The Good Life” wasn’t a success, but it got the attention of L.A. Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. They recruited Braxton to sing a demo for the song “Love Shoulda Brought You Home,” a song written by Anita Baker for the soundtrack to the 1992 Eddie Murphy romantic comedy Boomerang.
Braxton was then signed to Reid and Edmonds’ Arista-distributed imprint, LaFace Records and immediately began recording her solo debut album. The album, released in 1993 was a major smash and peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart. Since then, she has released five solo albums, had multiple hit singles, and won numerous awards including American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards and Grammy Awards.
In honor of her 47th birthday, here is a top 10 list of Toni Braxton songs.
image courtesy of INFevents.com
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10.”Let It Flow”
Off of Braxton’s second studio album, 1996’s Secrets, “Let it Flow” was produced by “Babyface” and was recorded for and included on the soundtrack to the 1996 film Waiting to Exhale. It had heavy radio airplay and eventually topped the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. The song is about letting go of the sadness after being heartbroken and moving on.
Braxton’s cool vocals made listeners who had experienced the same situation feel that brighter days were ahead.
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9. “Hit The Freeway” featuring Loon
Off Braxton’s fourth studio album, 2000’s More Than A Woman, the song “Hit the Freeway” was the album’s lead single and featured rapper Loon, who also wrote the song along with Pharrell Williams. The song’s lyrics have Braxton’s ex (Loon) wanting to get back with her, but she claims that she isn’t interested.
It’s the perfect song for any woman who has had an ex suddenly come back into their life wanting a second chance.
Off of Braxton’s fifth studio album, 2005’s Libra, the song was the album’s lead single. It reached No. 36 on the Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, but instead reached #4 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. It’s an upbeat song where Braxton croons about how her man is hers and satisfied and any woman looking to steal him away better think twice.
It’s a great song to play if you don’t want another woman sniffing around your man!
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7. “He Wasn’t Man Enough”
This song was the lead single off of Braxton’s third studio album, 2000’s The Heat. It became one of Braxton’s signature songs, earned Braxton her fourth Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 2001 and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also hit No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs list and remained there for four weeks.
The song has Braxton singing about how her cheating ex wasn’t “man enough” for her and how she’s telling the woman, who he cheated on her with and married, that he’ll end up doing the same thing to her.
It’s a rare woman who would warn the woman who her ex cheated on her with that’s she’s in for the same.
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6. “Un-break My Heart”
Another song off of Braxton’s 1996 album Secrets, this song was the second single released off the album. The ballad was written by Diane Warren and won Braxton the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The song attained worldwide success and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it stayed for 11 weeks. It also reached No. 1 on the Hot Dance Club Songs and Adult Contemporary charts. The song has Braxton begging a former lover to return and “un-break” her heart.
The song’s music video was directed by Billie Woodruff and starred model Tyson Beckford as Braxton’s lover. Viewers see Braxton give Beckford a kiss goodbye and then Beckford is involved in an auto accident that kills him and we see Braxton weeping over his bruised body. She then walks around their house, reminiscing about their good times together, and the video concluded with Braxton singing the emotional song at a live concert. Her devastation at her lover’s loss is conveyed through the lyrics.
This could easily be played by someone trying to win back a past love by conveying how much they ache to have them back in their life.
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5. “You’re Makin’ Me High”
Yet another track from 1996’s Secrets, it was the first single released off the album and became Braxton’s first #1 single on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. It also earned Braxton her third Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
The song’s music video, again directed by Billie Woodruff, features Braxton and a group of friends, actresses Erika Alexander, Vivica A. Fox and Tisha Campbell-Martin, enjoying themselves in a luxurious setting. An elevator then brings up a series of men, some very attractive and others humorously unattractive, and Braxton and her friends “judge” the men using oversized playing cards as score cards. Then, each woman leaves with a particular man and Braxton leaves with the pizza delivery guy, played by Bryce Wilson, who returns with a smoldering look in regular clothes at the video’s climax. The track’s lyrics have Braxton singing about her very private and intimate feelings and thoughts about the object of her affection.
Now what woman hasn’t had such thoughts about a crush, whether they’re attainable or not!
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4. “Another Sad Love Song”
Off of Braxton’s 1993 self-titled debut album, this song was the first single released off the album. It gave Braxton her first Billboard Hot 100 chart top ten hit, reaching No. 7. It also was her first hit on the Adult Contemporary chart, hitting #8 and peaked at No. 2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The song also earned Braxton her first Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Its lyrics have Braxton complaining how every song she hears on the radio reminds her of her ex-boyfriend.
This ballad is sure to relate to women around the globe who have had recollections of an ex when a certain song plays on the radio.
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3. “Breathe Again”
Another track off of Braxton’s 1993 self-titled debut, this was the album’s second single and had heavy radio airplay, making it the most successful single off the album. It peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #4 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Adult Contemporary charts. Braxton’s smoky vocals sing about a relationship that has run its course, but Braxton still intensely feels the loss.
It’s the quintessential ballad for listeners who have lost the love of their life and can’t seem to let go.
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2. “You Mean The World To Me”
This track was the fourth single off of Braxton’s self-titled debut album. It was a radio smash, peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 3 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It’s theme has Braxton crooning about how her man means everything to her and that he better shape up or leave.
This song is a great one for a woman to play when her man is around as a clear sign that he better treat her right or he’s outta here!
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1. “How Many Ways”
Yet another track off of Braxton’s self-titled debut, Braxton co-wrote this song. It peaked at No. 6 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and at No. 8 on the Hot Dance Singles Sales chart. The song’s lyrics have Braxton singing about the number of ways she loves her man. The music video for the song starred Shemar Moore, who at the time, was a major sex symbol on the CBS soap opera, The Young and the Restless. He now stars on the hit CBS crime drama Criminal Minds. In the video, Braxton and Moore are riding in a car, cuddling in a field, and then Moore is looking up at a scantily-clad Braxton on a veranda while holding a pink rose. Braxton’s sultry vocals list the ways she loves and adores her man.
I’m sure every man would love for their lady to express the many ways she loves him in this manner, and, with this song, Braxton showed women all over how to tell her man just how she feels about him properly!