‘Braxton Family Values:’ How Did The Braxtons Do As a Singing Group?
The Braxtons sisters are known for their WeTV reality series and their insane vocal ability. Before their fame, the Maryland natives performed together in a group before Toni’s massive success as a solo artist. Each sister, except Towanda, has released music individually but gave fans a special treat by reuniting musically a few years ago.
The Braxtons released their first album in 1990
It was first discovered the Braxton girls were vocally gifted when they harmonized together over toilet paper. Tamar, Traci, Towanda, and Trina reflected on the hilarious moment while appearing on The Anderson Cooper Show in 2013.
“Tamar was in the bathroom and quite often we run out of toilet paper because there’s so many people in the family and she yelled and said ‘Somebody give me some toilet paper,’ and we all ran in there and started singing,” Towanda recalled.
Tamar interrupted Towanda before she could finish her version of the story, saying her sisters ignored her until she began singing the tune aloud. The song became known as “The Toilet Paper Song.”
From that moment on, their mother Evelyn, who was also a former amateur opera singer, trained the girls on how to sing together. The Braxtons performed religiously at their father’s church and in churches throughout the D.C. metropolitan area.
They were signed to Arista Records in 1999 and released their first single, “The Good Life,” in 1990. The single reached #79 on the Billboard Hot Black Single charts but failed to do much else.
Toni Braxton goes solo with her sisters in tow as her background singers
The failure of the Braxtons first single was heartbreaking to the group. The label found it difficult to market them because of the age differences – Tamar was just 12-years-old during the first record and Toni is almost 11 years Tamar’s senior.
But, they caught the attention of L.A. Reid and Babyface, who were just starting LaFace Records. They specifically were interested in Toni and felt she’d be great a solo artist.
Toni’s family was not supportive of her accepting the solo deal, but it was her sister Traci who encouraged her to do so and suggested that Toni help her sisters with landing their own deal once she hit it big.
Toni accepted the solo deal on the condition that her sisters could tour with her as her background sisters and the label’s promise that they’d work on a Braxton record with the four remaining sisters.
All of the Braxton sisters worked alongside Toni on her first U.S. tour, music videos, and promotional appearances. They were featured in the music video for Toni’s third single, “Seven Whole Days”, from her debut album. They continued performing as background artists for Toni on-and-off until 2018.
The Braxtons as a trio
The remaining Braxton sisters signed to LaFace records officially in 1993 but they never released any music through the label. Reid left the label the same year and negotiated a deal to take the group with him to Atlantic Records. They signed a three-album deal with Atlantic in 1994.
Prior to signing the new contract, Traci became pregnant with her son and was not allowed to sign with the group. Trina, Towanda, and Traci moved forward without her and Traci left the industry altogether.
They released their album So Many Ways in 1996. Their lead single was the title track of the same name. The album peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts.
To promote the album, they performed as the opening act for Toni’s Secrets tour in 1997 and performed on a number of award shows and talk shows, including the 1996 Lady of Soul Awards alongside Jay-Z.
The group did not release any additional albums under their contract and officially disbanded in 1999 when Tamar landed a solo deal with DreamWorks.
The Braxtons reunite for holiday album
After almost 20 years, all five Braxton girls contributed to an 8-track holiday album, Braxton Family Christmas, in 2015. The recording of the album was documented on Braxton Family Values.
Braxton Family Christmas debuted at number 27 on the US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, number 10 on the US R&B Chart, and number 12 on US Top Holiday Albums. The album also charted at number 1 on the US Heatseekers Albums in December of that year.
The album was well-received by critics and the sisters completed the projects as a gift to their fans and each other after decades of not performing together as a five-member group.