The Orlando Sentinel from Orlando, Florida on November 19, 1993 · Page 80
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The Orlando Sentinel from Orlando, Florida · Page 80

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Orlando, Florida
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Friday, November 19, 1993
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Page 80
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Braxton scores debut success CHICAGO TRIBUNE With her husky, sultry voice and sensual, emotional lyrics, Toni Braxton is the female equivalent of Luther Vandross and she's racking up almost as many hits on both the pop and R&B charts. Her debut solo album, Toni Braxton, has sold more than 1 million copies and is No. 10 on the Billboard magazine album chart, topping even Nirvana and Garth Brooks. The first single off the album, "Another Sad Love Song," peaked at No. 7, and the follow-up single, "Breathe Again," is close behind. Both singles are still in the Top 20. Even though her first full-length album has been out for only a few months, fans have been hearing her voice for quite a while. Her first solo hit, "Love Shoulda Brought You Home," was featured on the double-platinum Boomerang soundtrack album in 1992. "It was a way to introduce Toni to the public and get them ready for her solo album," said LA Reid, who co-produced the soundtrack as well as Toni Braxton along with Babyface, the other half of the twosome behind so many hit monsters, including Boyz II Men and Whitney Houston. "We knew she was going to be a big star." Reid and Babyface first heard of Braxton when she was in college, singing with the quintet the Braxtons, made up of Toni and her four younger sisters. They made a single for Arista Records. "It didn't do well," Braxton, 25, said. "In fact, it did terrible." Shortly after, however, Reid and Babyface heard it and liked it, so they called Braxton for an audition with their fledgling label, LaFace. "They didn't want my sisters. It was kind of like that episode of The Brady Bunch where they want to hire Greg and not the rest of the Brady Six," Braxton joked. "But my sisters were all still in junior high and high school, so they said, 'Go ahead.' " Braxton signed with LaFace in 1991, becoming its first female solo artist. Just before she was to start working on her solo debut, however, LaFace which by now had such hit- V Ml makers asr.TLC in tanks -When hex "paTents. wete.fv'tVith'aV J , Toni Braxton's unlikely success began with a sister act and singing in the choir of her father's Apostolic church. merang soundtrack. Braxton couldn't have asked for a more auspicious start. LaFace released her Boomerang duet with Babyface, "Give U My Heart," as a single, and it went to No. 1. Now that Braxton's name was known, LaFace released her solo from the soundtrack, "Love Shoulda Brought You Home," and it, too, went to No. 1. "The success of that song made me nervous," Braxton said. "My song got listened to because of the other artists on the soundtrack Johnny Gill and Boyz II Men. I was riding on their coattails. But when you make a solo album, you're on your own." As a child, Braxton never dreamed of a career as a sultry songstress. Her father was an Apostolic minister, and the household rules were strict. "We weren't allowed to dance or watch movies and most TV shows," Braxton said. "All sorts of rules people of my religion couldn't wear jewelry, so people exchanged Bibles on their wedding day." Braxton didn't realize just how different her upbringing was until she started making friends at school and hearing about their lives. "I'd always lived that way, so it never bothered me until I went to friends' houses and saw what they could do," she said. She started watching Soul Train and other music shows PHOTOLAFACE RECORDS And then there was the show that changed her life, Good Times, the goofy '70s sitcom starring Jimmie Walker. "I had this huge crush on Jimmie Walker," Braxton said, blushing a bit. "I never liked it when he said 'Dyno-mite!' but when he answered the phone and said, 'Chello?' that was so cute!" On the show, a young Janet Jackson played Walker's neighbor, and the character also had a crush on him. "Janet sang a song to him," Braxton recalled, "and I thought, 'I'm going to learn that song and sing it to him so he'll love me, too.' What did I know? I was only like 7 or 8." So Braxton started singing with, the choir at her father's church with some tips from her mom, an amateur opera singer. The family later converted to United Methodist, and the sisters were allowed to sing and dance. "My little sisters can't believe the things I couldn't do because by the time they were older, my parents had converted," Braxton said. - She and her four sisters, who now range in age from 16 to 21, started the Braxtons, made the single and, whoomp, there it is. Now, she's touring. "It's absolutely important for me to perform live," Braxton explained. "I don't want to just sell records and feel like I started at the top. Then, there's nowhere to go but down. I love feeling of being on staee- Atfme Ifltimate rosm" 'jc rni Cj!) '.sWV Cutting-edge promo: On-line album previews Where's the first place you could have heard a track from the forthcoming Guns N Roses album The Spaghetti Incident! Not on MTV. Not on your fave college-alternative radio station. The answer: Your home computer. A 30-second sound bite of the tune "Ain't It Fun" recently debuted on CompuServe, the country's largest electronic information service for computer users with 1.4 million subscribers. Previews of two dozen albums can be accessed from CompuServe's newly opened Music Vendors Forum, a cyber space for labels to promote products and answer questions from consumers. Subscribers tap into the forum by typing GO MUSICVEN. Guns' Geffen Records and companion label DGC are the first to exploit the computer-user interface "as fully as we can, to add electronic services to traditional publicity and promotion," says Robert von Goeben, director of the labels' graphics department and spearhead of the high-tech promo project with his assistant Kirsten Matt. (His CompuServe electronic address is 71673,2311; hers is 72274,2174.) "We're offering tour schedules and facts about artists and new releases. We're also featuring full-color, sticker-sized logos and CD-booklet sized photos, some previously unreleased, which you can download and print out," von Goeben says. "We plan to have artists host special on-line events, communicating live with fans through personal computers." Warner Brothers also has signed on to Music Vendors Forum with a text-only ser-' vice. At least two other major labels are negotiating to come on-line, said CompuServe spokesperson Michelle Moran. This does not replace the user-run CompuServe music forum RockNet, which is the first place many music buffs look for Grateful Dead tour schedules and set lists, record reviews and such. Dust off turntables for hip new releases Where's the first place rock fans have found cool new releases by alternative rock bands such as Pearl Jam (Vs.), 1 Urge Overkill (Saturation) and Nirvana (In Utero) in recent months? Ironically, it's in the virtual- ly obsolete vinvl-reoord' for" mat, howidayi- embraoett'by j:JnT vfl aeiiiUTjMrj ,iot xttj eg SOUND BITES only a handful of music shops in even the largest of towns. Those three albums were issued on vinyl a week or two before CD and cassette versions. When they are issued, vinyl LPs are pressed in limited quantities of 3,000 to 30,000 copies and are shipped "one way" (no returns) to wholesalers and retailers. Some are pressed on "collectible" clear or colored vinyl. When the initial run is sold out, re-orders are impossible to get. Also dipping into the vinyl album act anew are Afghan Whigs (Gentlemen), Dinosaur Jr. (Where Have You Been?), Tad (Inhaler) and such Atlantic attractions as the Lemon-beads (Come On Feel the Le-ntonheads), Yo La Tengo (Painful) and the Melvins (Houdini). Atlantic marketing vice-president Karen Colamussi calls vinyl-album releases "an awareness tool," useful in building or maintaining a band's hip, underground vibe. The stunt also evokes the spirit of diehard indie labels that still issue 7-inch vinyl singles, almost as a protest statement against the corporate CD mentality at major labels. And, Colamussi notes, "a lot of these alternative kids don't even have CD players. They're vinyl junkies." Epic VP of product development Dan Beck says Pearl Jam expressed a technical interest in the old-fashioned analog medium, which many people still believe sounds warmer than digital CDs and punchier than tape cassettes. Pearl Jam wanted their al- bum heard on vinyl. A lot of Mom and Dad's turntables have been dusted last few weeks." off in the Springsteen denies Super Bowl rumors Those rumors about Bruce Springsteen playing the Super Bowl halftime show or coming out with a "Bio-graph"-type set of unreleased material are just rumors, a spokeswoman says. Springsteen has said that he has mulled a box set on and off for years, so it should arrive eventually. Meanwhile, he has recorded a new song called "Streets of Philadelphia," which kicks off the upcoming Tom HanksDenzel Washing- ton movie Philadelphia. ' '.'.v.: '7'r6MPiiEDfRCvihRiiRE0RTS yt. I'ew jt m jyoa

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