Toni Braxton was famous for her sultry voice and emotional ballads. Despite her battle with Lupus, Braxton went on to bag several Grammy awards and toured all over the world to see her fans.
Sadly, after two decades in the industry, Braxton dropped the bombshell news that she was retiring from music. Though she loved performing, a painful divorce and public tribulations reduced her desire to perform.
In the course of a sit-down with her friend and mentor Babyface that aired on “Braxton Family Values,” she elucidated more on the reason she developed an apathy for music.
“I had a talk with my sisters and I told them I didn’t want to do music anymore,” she revealed. “I really don’t. I’m just really not into it anymore. I really tried. I don’t know what to sing about anymore.”
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No one was able to convince her to continue releasing new songs, but the only person who could convince her otherwise was Prince. She told NBC News that the multi-talented artist would not let her quit.
“The one thing I loved most about him was his advocacy for artists in the industry,” she explained. “He taught me about preserving my music, my talent and to never compromise my integrity. Prince was one of the artists that called me when I was about to retire and he said, ‘Toni Braxton, you cannot retire. It’s too early and you’re gifted to even think this.'”
Early Days Of Braxton
With 67 million albums sold worldwide, lead starring roles on Broadway, and multiple television executive producer credits under her belt, the music veteran has created quite the legacy for herself. Braxton and her four younger sisters initially started performing as The Braxtons group.
While their 1990 debut single “Good Life” flopped, it caught the attention of producers Antonio LA Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, who liked some of what they heard and later signed Braxton to their LaFace label as a solo artist.
This news didn’t go down well at home; what should have been a cause for celebration was tainted.
“It was perpetual guilt,” she revealed. “Looking back, there were situations where I go: ‘You should have lived louder.’”
The success of the soundtrack led to LaFace’s fast-tracking sessions for Braxton’s debut album.
“I was so green,” she said. “Just happy to be there. I always felt this need to do my best immediately. The first album was done on purpose, you know, making me a little more adult contemporary. By the time the second album came around, I wanted to be my age. I didn’t want to wear all these long gowns; I wanted to wear jeans or a catsuit,” the star concluded.
Braxton Performs ‘Breathe Again’ And Dedicates It To Prince
Braxton and Prince’s friendship extended beyond music. They spent intimate time with each other; attended concerts together, had meals together, and even shared laughs. Recently, when she performed her popular single “Breathe Again” at Rihanna’s 30th birthday party, she dedicated the song to the late singer, Prince.
“Out of all the singles and songs that people know, “Breathe Again” is definitely my favorite because it really makes me joyful,” she admitted. “Although this time when I was in rehearsal practicing, it made me tear up a bit because Prince actually told me that it was his favorite song of mine. So, performing it now means much more to me than it ever did.”
When asked by Billboard about how singing for Rihanna’s birthday made her feel, she recalled that it was so much fun. “I started the show with “Breathe Again,” and ended with “He Wasn’t Man Enough.” And she sang along to every song.”
Braxton’s Autoimmune Disease
Braxton was diagnosed with Lupus, which caused inflammation to her joints, skin, and other organs. It was this illness that led her to announce her retirement in 2013. She shared that she was really sad about the development.
“I just found out my diagnosis and they told me I needed a heart transplant. I was lucky and I didn’t need it. But they originally thought I did. The doctor said I would never be able to perform again.”
She also revealed that all she felt now was gratitude. “Luckily, the man upstairs had a whole other plan for me. But at that time, I was very sad. And I just thought the best way to go on with life is to retire. I was so fortunate that it wasn’t the final.”
When asked about her relationship with Prince, she spoke about him with so much tenderness and mentioned that she missed him. “Prince was my fairy godfather, my big brother. He taught me so many things. With my first bankruptcy, Prince called me up immediately and I told him we were all slaves. We had dinner and talked and he put me in touch with my attorney to get me out of it all. I miss him all the time.”
Braxton Landed Another Grammy With ‘Love, Marriage, & Divorce’
Luckily, Braxton took Prince’s advice and did not fully retire. A year after announcing her retirement, she teamed up with Babyface for a duet album “Love, Marriage, & Divorce.” Critics loved the album. Braxton and Babyface released the hit single “Hurt You,” which peaked at No. 1 on the US Adult R&B Songs chart.
The album won Best R&B Album at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. That evening, Braxton took home her seventh Grammy win.
She then released her ninth album studio, “Sex & Cigarettes.” This was her first solo album in almost a decade and also coincided with her silver anniversary in music.