Toni Braxton's rising popularity -- The R&B singer's self-titled debut is racing up the ''Billboard'' charts

By Meredith Berkman
August 27, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

A few months ago, singer Toni Braxton, a self-proclaimed ”P.K.” (Preacher’s Kid), wrote ”Speaking in Tongues,” a ballad about ”the sounds people make when they make love.” Kenny ”Babyface” Edmonds, the copresident of her label, LaFace Records, wanted the song for her debut album, Toni Braxton (currently No. 4 on Billboard‘s R&B chart). ”I told Face, ‘Hell, no!”’ says the 25-year-old Braxton, who wasn’t even allowed to listen to secular music until she was 14. ”My dad’s a minister! Speaking in tongues — they talk about that in the Bible!” Needless to say, the song is not on the album.

Braxton, the oldest of six kids, grew up in Severn, Md., is single, and now lives in Atlanta. A cool mixture of shy and confident, she gives Edmonds and his partner, L.A. Reid, much of the credit for her success. After all, they produced her two top 10 singles for last summer’s Boomerang soundtrack (”Love Shoulda Brought You Home,” ”Give U My Heart”) — the tracks that started all the Braxton buzz, and the inevitable comparisons.

”Some people say I sound a little like Anita Baker, because of my contralto tone,” she says in a voice as husky as Baker’s. ”Others say Whitney Houston, because of her soulfulness and the power behind her voice. I think I have my own sound.”

Not to mention a wildly enthusiastic — if somewhat conservative — personal publicist. ”My dad gets up in church and holds up a magazine,” Braxton says with a laugh. ”He’ll say, ‘My daughter’s on page 24. I’ll put it on the bulletin board for all of you who want to see it.”’ Here’s another one for you, Reverend.