Toni Braxton and her sisters are set to star in a new reality series, 'The Braxtons'
The five women got their first taste of the limelight as The Braxtons, a singing quintet who signed with Arista Records in 1989. Not long after, Toni became a solo artist with her sisters as her backup singers. The eldest Braxton went on to win seven Grammys.
“We’re so close,” Toni told Tamron Hall in 2022. “We’re more than sisters, we’re kind of like twins. We’re bound together by more than just DNA, by blood.” She continued, “It’s just something special that my parents did such a fantastic job with raising all of us together and making us so close.”
Years after their singing careers took off, the Braxtons appeared together on the WE tv show Braxton Family Values from 2011 to 2020. Toni told Essence in 2020 that tensions occasionally arose between her and her siblings due to filming. “My sisters, and me, we’re like peas and carrots, but I have to be honest, sometimes the stress of the show does cause feathers to ruffle,” she said.
In other ways, however, their time on-screen strengthened their bond. “This show made us very close,” Trina told New York Daily News in 2011. “It made us do a lot of healing.”
Toni told Essence, “At the end of the day we do love each other. We may fuss and fight but five hours later we’re on the phone talking ... We probably talk everyday.”
Their ultra-close bond made it that much harder when Traci died of esophageal cancer in March 2022. After her death, Tamar posted a touching tribute on Instagram on what would have been her 51st birthday. "Someone lied and said 'it gets easier.' ” she wrote. “It doesn't. You just continue to live without," adding, "Our sisterly bond is unbreakable.”
In February 2024, WE tv announced the Braxtons' bond would be televised again in a new reality show called The Braxtons.
From their childhood to their long careers together, here is everything to know about the Braxton sisters.
They grew up in Maryland
Toni was the first-born Braxton child, welcomed by parents Michael Braxton Sr. and Evelyn Braxton on Oct. 7, 1967. The couple met at a YMCA dance when Evelyn was just 15, according to Toni’s 2015 memoir, Unbreak My Heart.
The rest of the children were born in quick succession. Toni was followed by a brother, Michael, in 1968, and sisters Traci in 1971, Towanda in 1973, Trina in 1974 and Tamar in 1977. Together, the siblings were raised in the Baltimore suburb of Severn, Maryland.
Of her childhood, Toni wrote that the family had modest means.
They started out as a pop quintet
Though Toni is best known as a solo artist, she began her musical career as one of five members of the singing quintet The Braxtons. Toni, Traci, Towanda, Trina and Tamar first sang together at their childhood church, where their father was a pastor. After signing to Arista Records, they released their first single, "Good Life,” in 1990.
“It was so rewarding because we had worked so hard,” Traci told YouKnowIGotSoul in 2014. “[Tamar] was only 10, just singing with my sisters and having that harmony and being as one ... We as one were the same heartbeat.”
During a showcase in Los Angeles, Toni caught the attention of Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, who was scouting acts for his own label, LaFace Records.
“They’d just signed TLC so they weren’t looking for another girl group,” Toni told the Los Angeles Times in 2011. “My sisters said, ‘You sign with Babyface and then you come and help us.’ "
Years after the agreement, Traci said her older sister stayed true to her word. “When Toni signed, she had her sisters singing backgrounds,” Traci told YouKnowIGotSoul. “So it was like we weren’t missing a beat, she was just out front.”
Traci added, “For her to share her spotlight is the ultimate thing. I’m so proud of her because she still doesn’t have to share her spotlight but she does.”
They have worked together on reality TV
In 2011, all five Braxton sisters opened up their lives for the debut of their hit reality show, Braxton Family Values. When it first aired, Tamar told New York Daily News that it was a concept she had kicked around for a while before her sisters accepted.
“I got the idea for this show in 2008. And all my sisters were like, ‘No way,’ ’’ she recalled. “I think we realized we all had stories to tell.”
She added, “We didn’t do this as a career move. It’s something we felt we had to do. We thought that as females, it could make a difference in other people’s lives."
In addition to their WE tv hit, Traci’s marriage to Kevin Surrat was featured on Marriage Bootcamp in 2014. Tamar starred in a spinoff series called Tamar & Vince with her then-husband Vince Herbert from 2012 to 2017, as well as a 2020 docuseries following her journey to mental recovery called Tamar Braxton: Get Ya Life!.
In February 2024 — three years after their show ended — WE tv announced that the sisters and their mother would be back for a new reality show called The Braxtons. A press release promised that the new show would feature the sister's time during the COVID-19 pandemic and chronicle their lives as they grieved the death of Traci.
Tamar had to convince Toni to be on Braxton Family Values
Toni has been open about the fact that she wasn’t initially on board to do her family’s hit show. As the “Breathe Again” singer told the Los Angeles Times in 2011, it actually took a high-stakes game of Monopoly — and a bit of perspective — to change her mind.
“This is a true story. We were playing Monopoly. [Tamar] had Park Place and I lost. I owed her like $2,800,” Toni recalled. “And she said, 'If you do [Braxton Family Values], I won’t make you pay the money you owe.’ And she held me to it.”
Tamar also pointed out that by appearing on the series, her older sibling would be in control of her own narrative. “My sister Tamar said, ‘You should use this to tell your story,’ ” Toni explained to the outlet. “Because I had those financial issues. She said, ‘Stop letting other people tell your story. Use this show to tell what really happened.’ ”
They have one brother who is also a musician
While the Braxton sisters have largely lived in the public eye, their sole brother, Michael Conrad Braxton Jr., is far more private.
He shares his sisters’ passion for music, however, and wrote a song for Traci’s 2014 album Crash & Burn.
“The song my brother wrote was supposed to be for Toni, it’s called ‘Reasons,’ ” Traci told YouKnowIGotSoul. “He gave it to my sister a long time ago when my mom and dad went through their divorce. Toni never used the song and I was like 'Hey I would like to use this song, I love this song!' "
Toni’s sisters made an album without her
The "Let It Flow" singer told the Los Angeles Times that after she broke out as a solo artist, Towanda, Trina and Tamar released a record of their own called So Many Ways that was moderately successful overseas.
“I got my sisters a record deal on LaFace Records two years after I signed, and the person who signed them went to Atlantic Records; he took them with him,” Toni said. “[Their record] did pretty well abroad, especially in Asia.”
Traci went viral when she met Michelle Obama
Traci’s greeting, which consisted of her yelling, “Hey Michelle!” across the room, exploded on the internet after the commander-in-chief himself addressed it in his opening remarks. “We know it is Black History Month when you hear somebody say: ‘Hey, Michelle. Girlllll!' ” he joked.
The singer explained her viral moment on a 2016 episode of The Real, which her sister Tamar co-hosted at the time. “When they walked out, she acknowledged us,” Traci said of Michelle. “She waved, like, ‘Hi!’ Like, you know, ‘Hey girl!’ I’m like, ‘Hey, Michelle! Hey girl! We’re friends now!”
They’ve dealt with a lot of adversity
The Braxton sisters have faced a few hard times, many of which have played out on reality television. In addition to the financial struggles faced by both Towanda and Toni, whom the Los Angeles Times reported filed for bankruptcy protection at the height of her fame in 1998, several of the sisters have dealt with difficult health challenges.
Toni was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks healthy tissues and causes inflammation, in 2008. Complications from her disease forced the singer to undergo what she called a “traumatic” heart procedure in September 2022.
The youngest Braxton sister, Tamar, has also had several health scares. In 2015, she was forced to drop out of Dancing with the Stars due to blood clots in both of her lungs. “I went back to the hospital … only to find out that I don’t have pneumonia but … several P.E.’s (blood clots in both sides of my lungs),” she wrote on Instagram at the time, adding, “My health is my current obstacle.”
In July 2020, Tamar was rushed to the hospital after being found unresponsive in her hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton following a suicide attempt. The talk show host later told PEOPLE in 2021 that she was still dealing with pain she had never properly addressed after being molested as a child.
"I thought I had successfully buried that part of me, but it was manifesting in different ways," she said. "I didn't see how I was going to come out on the other side. I didn't even know that there was another side. But I chose to change my life."
The Braxton sisters have also experienced loss. Michael’s 24-year-old daughter Lauren Braxton died of a heroin overdose in 2019, and in 2022, Traci died of esophageal cancer.
They rallied around Traci in her final moments
In Traci’s final months, the Braxton family came together for her in a big way.
“We got to savor that moment with her and talk and laugh and giggle,” Toni told Tamron Hall in 2022. “All my sisters and I, my parents, we all rallied together, my brother,” she said.
According to the Unbreak My Heart author, the Braxtons were even present for Traci’s final moments. “We were just there all the time,” she recalled. “We got to see her take her last breath.”
Tamar was married to Toni’s former manager
Tamar was introduced to her ex-husband Herbert, whom she wed in 2008, by Toni, who worked with the talent manager professionally.
Eventually, Toni decided to find new management as a result of her sister’s relationship with Herbert. “I thought it was a conflict of interest,” she told Essence in 2020. “There’s a little bit of truth to the idea that you shouldn’t mix business with family. You can’t separate when it’s family or business. If something goes wrong, I can call my manager and yell and cuss. I can’t do that to my brother-in-law, that’s not cool."
While Toni told the outlet that her younger sibling was “disappointed” over her decision, Tamar and Herbert ultimately went their separate ways, too. Tamar’s rep confirmed news of her split from Herbert to PEOPLE in October 2017, and they finalized their divorce in 2020.
Tamar is currently engaged to Queen’s Court alum Jeremy “JR” Robinson.
Toni and Tamar have 18 Grammy nominations between them
Though all of the Braxton sisters are vocally talented, the oldest and the youngest among them have both been recognized with Grammy nominations — 14 for Toni and four for Tamar.
Toni also has seven Grammy wins under her belt, including nods for best new artist in 1994 and best R&B album in 2015.
Toni is jealous of her sisters’ height
While Toni has dispelled rumors of professional jealousy among her siblings, she has admitted to being envious of them in another way. “I do have height envy,” she told Essence. “I’m 5 foot 1 inch and my sisters are giants, so I do have height envy.”
Tamar and Traci have also opened up on the topic of sibling rivalry. “I’m still introduced as [Toni’s] sister," Tamar told the Cape Cod Times in 2013. “Which is fine. I am her sister. And she’s an icon. Am I that full of myself that I don’t want to be Toni Braxton’s little sister? That’s who I am."
Traci, meanwhile, expressed her desire to be heard as an individual. “People would be like, ‘You are Toni’s sister, can you sound like her?’ I’m like ‘I’m Traci Braxton, I’m not Toni Braxton, give me a chance, I have my own distinct sound,’ ” she told YouKnowIGotSoul.
Toni dedicated a movie to her late sister Traci
Toni told Tamron Hall in 2022 that she formally dedicated her film Fallen Angels Murder Club: Friends to Die For to Traci following her death earlier that year.
As she explained, the film reminded her of her sister. “I would talk to her every day, a couple times of day,” Toni said. “I would ask her about my character, and talk to her about Hollis and read my lines with her."
Toni concluded, “When I look at this project, I think of her with a smile on my face.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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