Taking Back Control Singer Toni Braxton pushes past the hurdles of lupus to empower herself and others

Photos courtesy Toni Braxton

With a decorated career and involvement in just about every corner of the entertainment industry, legendary singer Toni Braxton is more than just an R&B icon. Through years of success and dedication to her craft, Braxton has become a household name. From her solo music career to producing and starring in a hit reality show series, Braxton Family Values, the multi-talented Braxton has nearly done it all.

She first stepped into the scene with her four sisters as the musical group, The Braxtons, during the 1980s. Soon after, her first self-titled album debuted in 1993, which featured the hit song “Another Sad Love Song.” The album alone led to three Grammy Award wins, and Toni Braxton became one of the top female artists in R&B. Braxton’s next studio album Secrets was even more commercially successful and generated the chart-topping hits “You’re Makin’ Me High” and “Un-Break My Heart.” Currently, she has released eight studio albums, achieved a total of seven Grammy Award wins, 11 Grammy Award nominations, sold 67 million records, mothered two boys, produced two reality series and tapped into a successful career of acting and producing. She’s also the recipient of five Billboard Music Awards, an Echo Award, a NAACP Image Award and several Soul Train Music Awards.

Only a few years ago, in 2010, did Braxton publicly share her diagnosis of autoimmune disease, systemic lupus erythematosus. As an autoimmune disease, lupus causes the immune system to attack healthy tissues and can affect any part of the body. The disease can also cause unwanted butterfly rashes to appear on the skin. Pain and inflammation are often side effects of the disease, but Braxton refused to let these challenging symptoms stand in her way. Braxton took her diagnosis story to the world in hopes of bringing a sense of community and connection for those who have also been diagnosed with lupus. She encourages others to not let their diagnosis halt their ambitions and hopes to lead by example.

By committing to a healthy lifestyle and using all-natural health and beauty products, she continues to maintain her own plans for her performance career and future projects. Braxton is now taking on a new role as the brand ambassador for Uncle Bud’s Hemp, a company that specializes in “natural hemp-infused products for pain relief, skin care and personal care.”

Photos courtesy Toni Braxton

Uncle Bud’s Hemp prides itself in incorporating natural hemp oil, which is rich in fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants that help to promote healthy skin and slow cell damage. It’s a brand that Braxton can personally stand behind. CULTURE caught up with Braxton to receive insight into her career thus far and to learn how hemp products have aided in providing her a lifestyle that is healthy, safe and fulfilling.

 

You’ve been in the entertainment industry as both a solo recording artist and you’ve worked in various projects with your family. How have those endeavors impacted your life today?

Family is first and foremost, of course. Professionally music is my first love, and I have enjoyed the opportunities I have had to act both in movies and on Broadway.

 

Not only do you have a big family, but you all have collaborated together from singing with your sisters to filming reality TV. What are the benefits of working with your family members?

We love each other. If feelings are running high, you know at the end of the day, you are family, and you have to settle your differences.

Photos courtesy Toni Braxton

You have been involved in reality TV show Braxton Family Values not just on-screen, but behind the scenes as executive producer. What is it like producing a reality show that centers on your own family?

I am enjoying being the executive producer on both Braxton Family Values and my recent movie roles. I like the control of making decisions that has a positive impact on my acting.

 

You were also a contestant on Dancing with the Stars in its seventh season. How was that experience?

It was really exhausting. At the time, I didn’t want the world to know that I was living with lupus. I committed to Dancing with the Stars to show that I was healthy and strong.

 

Tell us about your upcoming role in the Lifetime movie, Every Day is Christmas.

It was fun to be the bad guy as a female Scrooge. I enjoyed doing a woman’s take on that wonderful holiday parable.

 

You’ll also be on tour at the start of the New Year. What can fans expect from this upcoming tour?

I love my fans, and I will be doing all of my hits.

Photos courtesy Toni Braxton

“Being open about my condition has been empowering, and it lets others who may be suffering know that they aren’t alone and that they don’t have to give up their dream. I don’t let the disease stop me.”

 

It’s no secret with your extensive resume that you enjoy working in so many aspects of the entertainment industry. From singing and acting to producing, is there a favorite form of entertaining you have among them?

I enjoy them all; music was my start, so that will always remain my favorite.

 

How do you feel about being referred to as a diva?

It is an honor to be a celebrated female singer. Many doors are open to me, because of that description.

 

You’re a mother of two teenage boys; what are some of the lessons you hope to instill in your sons?

I want them to be honest, kind, honorable and hard-working young men.

Photos courtesy Toni Braxton

“ . . . There are some misconceptions surrounding hemp versus CBD products, and many mistakenly use the terms interchangeably. Hemp seed oil is an all-natural oil that contains no psychoactive properties and is legal in the United States.”

 

How has life changed for you since you were diagnosed with lupus?

Being open about my condition has been empowering, and it lets others who may be suffering know that they aren’t alone and that they don’t have to give up their dream. I don’t let the disease stop me. I help manage my symptoms by using safe, natural pain-relief products like Uncle Bud’s, along with other healthy lifestyle alterations.

 

What is something about overcoming the symptoms of lupus that you would like others to know?

Never stop living your life. Take control of your body, and carefully work yourself through life’s hurdles. It can be done.

 

When were hemp-based products first introduced to you as a treatment option for lupus?

I was first introduced to the power of hemp through Uncle Bud’s products. I am hooked.

 

For those who are considering using hemp-infused topical products, what’s something you’d like to share about how it helps you?

That there are some misconceptions surrounding hemp versus CBD products, and many mistakenly use the terms interchangeably. Hemp seed oil is an all-natural oil that contains no psychoactive properties and is legal in the United States. Uncle Bud’s Hemp Pain Relief & Skin Care products do not contain any CBD. The industry can help dispel the conceptions by continuing to educate the consumer, and Uncle Bud’s will continue to be a source of information with the launch of their efficacious products, packaging and website.

“Having had to make healthy alterations to my lifestyle, this hemp-healthy brand specializes in pain relief products, making them an essential part of an everyday routine for me, as I have long suffered from the painful and debilitating effects of lupus.”

 

What types of treatment options did you try before resorting to hemp topical products?

Rest, clean living, staying out of the sun.

 

Why did you choose to partner with Uncle Bud’s over another brand or treatment option?

I believe in the product, and it really works for me. I wanted to share that experience with others.

 

The company shares that it provides a natural remedy for various conditions; why is it important to you to work with a company that utilizes natural ingredients in its products?

Having had to make healthy alterations to my lifestyle, this hemp-healthy brand specializes in pain relief products, making them an essential part of an everyday routine for me, as I have long suffered from the painful and debilitating effects of lupus.

 

What is your favorite hemp product? Why?

It is hard to pick just one. But right now, I am loving the Uncle Bud’s Topical Pain Reliever as it works super-fast, penetrates deep and relieves aches and pains better than any other over-the-counter product I have tried. All you need is a small dab. A close second is the Massage and Body Oil. It adds a touch of pampering to pain relief.

 

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

You are strong, and you can meet the challenges that life throws your way.

 

www.tonibraxton.com

 

1967 – Oct. 7, Toni Michelle Braxton is born to Minister Michael Braxton and his wife Evelyn in Severn, Maryland.

 

1970s – Braxton grows up in a strict religious household, but she finds her true passion while singing with her younger sisters Traci, Towanda, Trina and Tamar at their father’s church.

 

1990 – Braxton and her younger sisters form The Braxtons. The group releases its first single “The Good Life,” and singer, songwriter and producer Babyface is impressed by what he hears. Babyface quickly signs Braxton to LaFace Records.

 

1992 – June 30, Braxton’s breakthrough moment arrives. Anita Baker is unable to sing for the soundtrack of Eddie Murphy’s Boomerang, and Braxton is asked to fill in. The soundtrack attracts a lot of attention with several hit singles.

 

1993 – July 13, Braxton’s eponymous debut album is released and becomes an enormous hit, eventually selling over eight million albums and reaching number one on the Billboard 200 chart.

1994 – March 1, “Another Sad Love Song” earns her Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance awards at the Grammy Awards.

 

1995 – March 1, Braxton earns a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 37th Grammy Awards for “Breathe Again.”

 

1996 – Feb. 28, Braxton is nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards.

June 18, Braxton’s second solo album Secrets is released and is also massively successful. “Un-Break My Heart” becomes her most successful single to date, followed by “You Make Me High.”

 

1997 – Feb. 27 Braxton collects another two Grammy Awards for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. She is also nominated for two additional Grammy Awards.

 

2000 – April 25, The Heat, Braxton’s studio album, is released.

 

2001 – Feb. 21, Braxton wins a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance with “He Wasn’t Man Enough” and is nominated for another Grammy Award.

Oct. 23, Snowflakes, Braxton’s first holiday album is released.

 

2002 – Nov. 19, Braxton’s studio album More Than a Woman is released.

 

2005 – Sept. 27 Libra, named after Braxton’s Zodiac sign, is released as her latest studio album. Braxton takes a short hiatus from the studio.

 

2010 – May 4, Braxton releases her studio album Pulse, and shortly afterwards, she decides to focus on other parts of her career.

2011 – April 11, The reality television series Braxton Family Values debuts on WE tv, and it receives three times the ratings of typical WE tv series.

 

2014 – Feb. 4, Braxton releases her collaborative album Love, Marriage & Divorce with Babyface.

 

May 14, Braxton releases her memoir Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir published by HarperCollins.

 

2015 – Feb. 8, Love, Marriage & Divorce wins a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.

Oct. 30, The Braxtons release a holiday album Braxton Family Christmas, in which all five of her sisters participate.

 

2018 – March 23, Sex & Cigarettes, Braxton’s most recent studio album is released.

 

 

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