Toni Braxton FAULT Magazine Covershoot and Interview

Toni Braxton

Words: Miles Holder

It’s been almost thirty years since Toni Braxton made her debut however her latest album ‘Spell My Name’, once again proves that Toni’s musical nous can succeed in modern day’s ever-changing musical landscape.

Toni’s road to this level of greatness wasn’t a straight one. Toni Braxton’s musical journey has not been without its hardships. However, the dark cloud of career setbacks, vicious media stories and public turmoil has never been enough to dim the light of her outstanding musical talents.

We caught up with Toni Braxton to discuss her latest works, career regrets and of course, her FAULTs.

Toni Braxton

Do you feel you achieved everything you wanted to with the Spell My Name album?

Toni Braxton: I think I did – sometimes the concept of an album comes to me right at the start, and sometimes it comes at the end, but for this particular project it all came together pretty quickly. I knew I was going to do a heartbreak album, but one with a lot of hope in it.

There’s always been an old school versus new school R&B discussion, but you bridged the gap working with both longtime practitioners and relative newcomers this album – was that a conscious decision?

Toni Braxton: I’ve always wanted to collaborate on a song with Missy, I’m a huge fan of her work. HER is very talented – she’s a musician who plays a roster of different instruments, and I was impressed when I saw her on a morning show playing the piano – she reminded me of myself as a young musician. So it was more out of admiration for the different artists than a statement.

Toni Braxton

As someone, who had to battle for privacy over the years, do you fear the ramifications of being so honest through your music?

Toni Braxton: Music is how I vent when I’m sad or how I laugh when I’m happy. I always try to narrate a story through my music – especially if I’m singing about heartbreak. I want my listeners to live vicariously through me when they hear my music.

Despite growing and going through so many different phases in your career, people are still so shocked when you display your sexy side – why do you think that is?

Toni Braxton: When I first came out it was very “girl next door” and then the second album comes out which included ‘You’re Makin’ Me High’ which was much sexier, and people fell in love with my voice. I was twenty and trying all different things, but people still thought me the preacher’s kid, but even the preacher kid needs to grow up someday! I think people are still caught up in that after all these years, but I do understand.

What would you say was the most challenging part of your musical journey so far?

Toni Braxton: My lack of knowledge about the business side of the industry. As an artist, I just wanted to sing and let my art to be out there, but it’s a journey that you have to take by yourself, and thankfully along the way it got better.

I think your learning moments also helped educate other artists on their journey – does that give you some comfort?

Toni Braxton: I think so, I also learned a lot from other artists like Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston. I was in 12th grade when Whitney came out, and I loved her so much, and I think you always have to pay it forward.

Toni Braxton

You’ve seen the industry change during your tenure as an artist, do you feel enough real progress has made?

Toni Braxton: It’s changing slowly, but women still aren’t heads of record companies, and there are so many talented female writers and producers that you don’t hear about. We’re not celebrated like men are. Missy Elliot, for instance, is a fantastic producer and writer but I don’t feel that’s truly appreciated. The same goes for me, Mariah, Alicia Keys and so many others but I find with guys in the business, they’re always being bigged up for their talent while people don’t recognise the talents of female artists the same way.

What do you want your art to say about you?

Toni Braxton: That I’m a risk-taker, a trendsetter and a real talent.

Do you ever sit down and recognise the impact you’ve had on the musical industry and past what-ifs?

Toni Braxton: As I’ve gotten a little older, I’ve learned to live in the now and just enjoy it. I’m really proud of the body of work that I have so I don’t really have any regrets on that. Once you’re older in your career, you get confidence that allows you to sustain and be okay in your art.

Do you ever fear that the decisions you make, conflict with the wants of your fanbase?

Toni Braxton: For the ‘More Than The Woman’ album, I was listening to what people telling me that I should be doing and it just didn’t work for me. That album was me trying to satisfy the masses, but I’ve learned now to be honest with myself first. I always try to be honest with the music that I’m coming out with, while also being sure to move with the times.

What’s something you’ve done this year to protect your mental health this year?

Toni Braxton: 2020 has had its tough moments, but I’ve just kept myself busy. I’ve been cooking and being with my kids because it can get lonely. That silence is so loud, too loud sometimes.

What’s something new you’ve learned about yourself in 2020?

Toni Braxton: I’ve learned that I can be a worrywart. I’m a mom, so I worry more naturally, but I didn’t know I was so cautious, especially with COVID and my children going out as boys of colour. I understand I have to let my kids live their life, but at the same time, it’s my job to protect them.

What is your FAULT?

I’m too forgiving too soon. Forgiveness is part of the healing process, but sometimes I can forgive too soon. I’m just beginning to recognise it, and I’ve been talking to my therapist about it. I’ve never had a therapist before because there’s been a stigma about it, but I’ve learned that without someone to speak to, you can withdraw to a place it’s hard to come back from.