Sunday, July 19, 2009

Toni Braxton Talks Reggae Sumfest and New Album

To hear the voice of Toni Braxton singing, among others things, another sad love song, is to hear a voice that, with its mellow tone, is one of the most identifiable in the business. Often hitting diamond-selling notes, the American songstress has evolved from a fresh-faced R&B singer to a mother, wife, activist, actress, Las Vegas show-stopper, and is still on top of her game.

For Jamaican audiences who have grown up on her classic love songs, including Seven Whole Days, Un-Break My Heart, How Could An Angel Break My Heart, and a slew of others, they will get the chance to see the singer performing live in Jamaica for the first time on Saturday at Reggae Sumfest.

No stranger to 'Jamrock', Braxton and her family have often visited the island, staying with friends in Negril, and in a telephone interview with The Sunday Gleaner admitted to loving the island.

Warm and often cheerful, Braxton described herself as a humorous person who enjoys cooking, including experimenting with her favourite Jamaican dishes - jerk chicken and ackee.

"I'm really excited to be coming to Jamaica. I love the people, the culture, the food. I love ackee even though I haven't mastered that as yet. It doesn't work well for me so I'm gonna have to come there and have someone cook for me to enjoy it," she says.

Braxton says a typical day is taking care of her two sons, Denim Cole Braxton-Lewis and Diezel Ky Braxton-Lewis, and exercising to become a 'sexy mama', which she feels is important. Having a family and a career, she says, is all about finding the balance. "Some days it's challenging. I always try to balance it. I schedule and do a lot of work while the kids are at school. I'm fortunate 'cause my parents are really involved with the kids, especially my mom and my parents in law."

Unlike her other trips to Jamaica, this one isn't about family and fun but to perform as the major headline act to close International Night Two at Reggae Sumfest, and Braxton plans to entertain.

Debuted in 1993

"It's going to be great to entertain them and they're gonna entertain me and I can't wait to hear something different and hear the new music and maybe borrow some influences. People will definitely have a good time and enjoy themselves," she says.

Having released her self-titled debut album in 1993, there are few that can entertain like Braxton. The album's first single, Another Sad Love Song, peaked at number seven and number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B Singles charts, respectively. Breathe Again peaked in the top five of both the Hot 100 and R&B Singles charts and number two in the UK with more singles doing well. That album earned Braxton three Grammys and two American Music Awards and was certified diamond with more than 15 million sales worldwide.

Success only continued with her most-acclaimed album, Secrets, which featured You're Making Me High and Un-Break My Heart, becoming Braxton's second straight diamond-selling album, with more than 20 million sales worldwide, cementing the singer as a star. Her third album, Heat, did as well as the first two albums but Braxton's last three albums, due to poor advertising and issues with her label, Arista Records, were not commercial successes.

Braxton, however, has kept busy throughout the years, acting and performing in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway. The occasion marked the first and only time a black woman commanded the leading role of Belle on Broadway. Last year, she entered Dancing With the Stars, and in 2006 she replaced Wayne Newton as the Flamingo Hotel and Casino's headlining act. The show, Toni Braxton: Revealed, became the first headlining show from an African-American performer in Las Vegas to enter the top-10 Vegas shows charting.

Having a child with autism and being the spokeswoman for Autism Speaks has slightly hindered her work as a singer in recent years, but she says she had to prioritise her life.

"I'm in a better stage in my life. Motherhood was very new to me when I was putting out my last album and I have my youngest son who has special needs, who has autism," she says. "He was diagnosed a few years ago and he's doing a lot better. He's talking, his therapy is working wonderfully. I'm very fortunate, so I paid a lot of attention to being a mom, so now that my kids are doing better I can focus on music again."

Two weeks ago, Braxton finished her seventh and yet-to-be-titled album and is now in the process of remixing and working on possible collaborations. She is also trying to decide which of the two chosen singles will be the first release for September 1 of this year. While seven of her songs were leaked to the public, she is still trying to get one of them, Hero, on the album.

'Traditional stuff'

"It's a lot of traditional stuff on the album, but I think people are going to be surprised 'cause I switched it a little bit, doing different things. I think I've reinvented (myself)," she said.

An admirer of singers Alicia Keys and Keri Hilson, Braxton says she hopes to work with Jamie Foxx for an upcoming project, as well as Sean Paul.

"I can't wait to get back to Jamaica and hear the other artistes and say 'oh, that's great, I want to work with this person or that person', especially a female," she states.

With all her achievements, it's one of her first victories in music that Braxton finds most memorable - winning her first Grammy.

Source: The Gleaner


rod grey said...

does this mean that september 1 is the release date for the single

Jai Brandon said...

Yup :) Although these days you never know with leaks in all. But that's the official plan.

rod grey said...

i am so excited
can't wait til sept 1
hope it will b a massive hit

Anonymous said...

OMG! I will just lose it if Toni actually releases on my birthday. YES, Toni, come out. Your fans are ready for you.

Leilani said...

OMG I so excited about all the great news Toni has and I'm even more excited that the album is coming out with new stuff and that yes there may have been 7 leaked songs but she said herself she's "Trying to get Hero on the album" which means that everything is going to new!!!!!!!

Toni is about to run things again so all the rest of the ladies in the R&B game right now better start packing up their carnival acts cause out girl is on her way in a few!

-Leilani <3