She was born in Severn, Maryland, to Methodist pastor Michael Conrad Braxton Sr. and Evelyn Jackson Braxton, also a pastor and former opera singer.
Because she grew up in a strict religious household, Toni had to wait for her father to go grocery shopping so she could sneak and watch Soul Train.
She and her four younger sisters - Traci, Towanda, Trina, and Tamar - began performing in the '80s as the R&B group The Braxtons and released a 1990 single, "The Good Life."
The Braxtons auditioned for LaFace Records, an Atlanta-based label run by the producing and songwriting team Antonio "L.A." and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, but it was Toni who stood out. The duo signed her as a solo artist and, after landing two songs on Eddie Murphy's Boomerang soundtrack ("Love Shoulda Brought You Home" and "Give U My Heart"), she released her self-titled debut album in 1993 to major success.
Her debut album peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and was certified 8x platinum. It also earned her Grammy Award wins for Best New Artist and two consecutive wins for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance ("Another Sad Love Song
," 1994; "Breathe Again," 1995).
She was married to Mint Condition keyboardist Keri Lewis from 2001 - 2013. They have two sons: Denim and Diezel.
She has struggled with health issues like microvascular angina and lupus.
Along with her sisters and mother, she stars in the WE tv reality series Braxton Family Values, which debuted in 2011.
She starred in the 2013 Lifetime TV movie Twist of Faith as a single mother and gospel choir singer.
Toni Braxton realized at elementary school she had a different singing tone to other children. "My voice was always low," she recalled to The Guardian
. "I remember everyone in class singing Joy To The World
and I was the only one who couldn't sing it in the key. I was always the kid in the room with the low voice that made you turn around."
Braxton decided to sing professionally after she was discovered by William E. Pettaway Jr. (writer of Milli Vailli's "Girl You Know It's True
"), who heard her singing to herself while pumping gas. He told her he liked her voice and that he'd like to do some demos with her. Although skeptical, Braxton went for it and it proved to be the start of her successful career.