Toni Michelle Braxton (born October 7, 1967) is an American singer, songwriter, pianist, record producer, actress, television personality, and philanthropist. She began performing with her sisters in a family group known as The Braxtons in the late 1980s, who were signed to Arista Records.
Braxton's subsequent studio albums, More Than a Woman (2002), Libra (2005) and Pulse (2010), were released amid contractual disputes and health issues, including a lawsuit against her former manager for mismanaging her relationship with Arista Records. In 2014, Braxton and longtime collaborator Babyface released a duet album entitled Love, Marriage & Divorce, which earned the duo an additional Grammy Award for Best R&B Album in 2015.
Throughout her career, Braxton has sold over 67 million records, including 41 million albums worldwide. She has won seven Grammy Awards, nine Billboard Music Awards, seven American Music Awards, among numerous other accolades.
Toni Michelle Braxton was born in Severn, Maryland. Her father, Michael Conrad Braxton Sr., was a Methodist clergyman and power company worker, and her mother, Evelyn Jackson, a native of South Carolina, was a former opera singer and cosmetologist, as well as a pastor. Braxton's maternal grandfather was also a pastor.
Braxton is the eldest of six siblings. She has a younger brother Michael Jr. (born 1968) and four younger sisters Traci (born 1971), Towanda (born 1973), Trina (born 1974), and Tamar (born 1977). They were raised in a strict religious household, and Braxton's first performing experience was singing in her church choir.
Braxton attended Bowie State University to obtain a teaching degree, but decided to sing professionally after she was discovered by William E. Pettaway Jr., who reportedly heard her singing to herself while pumping gas.
On her appearance May 24, 2014 broadcast of NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, she stated that she was not singing to herself at the gas station. Pettaway, working as an attendant at the Annapolis service station where she was refueling, recognized her from local performances and introduced himself, saying he wanted to produce her. Although skeptical, Braxton decided to, in her words, "take a chance" and accepted.