On this day in music history: July 13, 1993 – “Toni Braxton”, the debut album by Toni Braxton is released. Produced by Babyface, L.A. Reid, Daryl Simmons, Vassal Benford, Bo & McArthur, Toni Braxton, Vincent Herbert, Ernesto Phillips and Tim & Ted, it is recorded at Studio LaCoCo, Doppler Studios, Bosstown Recording Studios in Atlanta, GA, Elumba Studios in Hollywood, CA, Encore Studios in Burbank, CA, Summa Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Central Studios in Bladensburg, MD and Newark Sound Studios in Newark, NJ from May 1992 – May 1993. Raised in a large strict religious family in the suburbs of Washington D.C., Toni Braxton grows up singing her local church choir, but aspires to sing secular music. Blessed with a distinctive, rich and sensual contralto voice, it won’t take long for the young singer to be noticed. The course of her future changes when she is overheard singing to herself while pumping gas at a station in Servern, MD. Bill Pettaway, Jr., the man who hears Toni singing, is a member of a band called Numarx (“Girl You Know It’s True”) and has ties to the music business. Through Pettaway, Toni and her sisters are signed to Arista in 1989, releasing the single “Good Love” in 1990. The single is a failure, but is heard by L.A. Reid and Babyface who are interested in signing Toni as a solo artist to their Arista distributed label LaFace Records. Initially hesitant to leave her sisters behind, they give her their blessing when they realize this is their older sisters’ opportunity to become successful. L.A. and Babyface first have Toni record “Love Should Have Brought You Home” (#2 R&B, #33 Pop) and “Give U My Heart” (duet with Babyface) (#2 R&B, #29 Pop) for the soundtrack of the Eddie Murphy comedy “Boomrang”. Both songs are major hits, thrusting Braxton into the spotlight and generating buzz for her first solo album. Spending an entire year in the studio with L.A. and Face and a number of other producers, Toni Braxton’s debut album is an immediate smash. Led by the single “Another Sad Love Song” (2 R&B, #7 Pop), it spins off a total of six singles also including “Breathe Again” (#4 R&B, #3 Pop) and “You Mean The World To Me” (#3 R&B, #7 Pop). The huge success of her debut quickly establishes Toni as one of the top female vocalists of the decade, selling over ten million copies worldwide. The album is nominated for four Grammy Awards, winning three including Best New Artist in 1994, and Best R&B Female Vocal Performance in both 1994 and 1995. “Toni Braxton” spends three weeks at number one (non-consecutive) on the Billboard R&B album chart, two weeks at number one (non-consecutive) on the Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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