Toni Braxton is a lucky lady. The marathon weep of "Un-break My Heart" in the charts was the type of success usually reserved for titans like Whitney and Mariah - not bad for a relative unknown. But now, just as "Un-break My Heart" unglues itself from the top 40, we have to contend with the arrival of her siblings, the junior Braxtons. The Georgia- based Towanda, 22; Trina, 21; and Tamar, 18, used to count Toni among their ranks before she went solo. But you won't hear a word of complaint from Towanda about her sister. "It's a blessing she made it, getting the Braxton name out there," she asserts, her voice brimming with evangelical positivity.
So exuberant is she about her and her sister's present tour with Luther Vandross ("He's a wonderful man, a wonderful performer") that a note of caution in her voice takes you aback. "There are definite pros and cons for us coming up in the wake of Toni's success. She's done a lot for us [but] sometimes we have to turn her down when she asks us to do things, because we have to make it on our own merits."
And The Braxtons' style of R'n'B on their current album So Many Ways is frothier, more lightweight than their sister's - indistinguishable, really, from a thousand other Nineties vocal acts. But there are enough differences to put water between them and Toni. "She's older than we are - there's about 10 years between her and Tamar. Her music is geared towards the older generation. We have young, fun-loving songs, but not too bubblegum. That song on the album called `Girl on the Side'? Toni would never sing that." The girls' father, the Rev Michael Braxton, brought them up to believe they had God on their side, so Towanda has no fear of getting an indifferent reception in Britain. Her enthusiasm goes into overdrive again. "I can't wait to be there!" she howls. "I've got my camera ready."
EYE ON THE NEW
Jonathan Fire Starter: darkly atmospheric pop from these young New Yorkers betrays strains of Nick Cave and fellow NY sleazers Unsane and Pussy Galore. Their disc, Tremble Under the Lights, has pricked up ears and this, their first proper UK tour, could see them fulfill the hype.
Leeds Duchess, 3 Mar; Leicester Princess Charlotte 4 Mar; London Garage 5 Mar; Bath Moles 6 MarReuse content