Toni Braxton Says Her Religious Upbringing Held Her Back in Her Career and Personal Life at Times

Toni Braxton is legendary for her sultry voice and classic songs of heartbreak but she says her career and personal life could have thrived more had it not been for her religious beliefs. As the daughter of a preacher, Braxton says her religious upbringing is the cause for not doing certain things personally and professionally.

Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for dcp

Toni Braxton is the daughter of a preacher

Braxton was raised in a household with her five siblings. Her father is an ordained minister and her mother also practices ministry and led the church’s choir. In her 2014 memoir Unbreak My Heart, Braxton explains that her parents tried a few different religious affiliations before settling on one that required strict practices.

Source: YouTube

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Initially, the Braxtons were Jehovah’s Witnesses, then Catholic before settling on United Methodist. Under the most strict religion, Braxton could not listen to secular music, attend movies, nor participate in most extracurricular activities.

Braxton admits she was not allowed to wear pants until she was 14, explaining that her mother allowed her finally when it was a freezing winter day.

It wasn’t until her late teens that her parents relaxed their restrictions. She discovered secular music by sneaking and watching episodes of soul train or listening to music when with friends.

Prior to getting a solo recording contract, Braxton performed inspirational music in a group with her sisters.

Toni Braxton explains how her religious upbringing hindered her decisions as an adult

Braxton is known for wearing sexy dresses on stage, but even that came at a price. She told Fault Magazine in a recent interview: 

“I was 20 and trying all different things, but people still thought of me as the preacher’s kid,” she said. “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.”

Now at 53, Braxton says she doesn’t allow the opinions of others to get to her. “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 OK in your art.”

Source: YouTube

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She also admits that her dating life suffered. Braxton has been married once – to fellow musician Kerry Lewis. But she says she held off on dating around to adhere to her religious beliefs. 

“I regret not having more sex when I was younger. I should have drank more. I should have partied more. Smoked more, even. I think my religious upbringing stopped me doing a lot of things that I should have done. It’s not a good look at the age I am now,” she told The Guardian

“The way it works is you do that stuff in your 20s and 30s and then in your 40s you’ve earned enough to pay for the therapy,” she joked. 

Now, Braxton says she doesn’t view herself as being a religious person, but someone who identifies as “spiritual.”