Ultimate Toni Braxton

Ultimate Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton took everything that was great about Phyllis Hyman and Anita Baker — their mature point of view, their taste for smoothed-out modern soul, and above all their sensuality — and updated it for the Nineties. Braxton’s voice was strikingly similar to Baker's in timbre and range, but she made the whole package younger, sexier, and more irresistible. In the Nineties pop landscape, Braxton carved out a perfect niche for herself — she was less theatrical than Whitney Houston, less sugary than Mariah Carey, and more seductive than both of them put together. Working in close collaboration with the R&B brain trust of L.A. Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Braxton released just two albums during her Nineties heyday, but both spawned multiple hit singles. Fans loved the romance novel melodrama of “Breathe Again” and “Un-Break My Heart,” but the pulsating “You’re Making My High” remains her finest moment. It’s hard for R&B divas to age successful, and after a stunning run Braxton was forced to cede the spotlight to her younger competitors in the late Nineties. Even so, her fan base remained devoted and her later years contained some of her best material, including “Just Be A Man About It,” “He Wasn’t Man Enough,” and “The Little Things.”

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