Toni Braxton is making a comeback with her first solo album, Sex & Cigarettes. This is Toni’s first album in eight years after spending nearly a decade battling the life-threatening disease lupus, according to People magazine. The singer-songwriter and R&B star is happy to say that her fiancé, Birdman, is helping her get through this difficult period in her life.
Birdman proposed to Toni with a canary yellow diamond ring and since then, Toni has been deep into wedding planning.
“This is my second wedding and I’m over 40 – It’s like Carrie Bradshaw, the last bride over 40 – so I want something that’s elegant and a little sexy. I’ve already done the beautiful bell dress at my first wedding… This time, I want something that’s more vintage – ’20s and ’30s like Great Gatsby-themed.”
Toni said that she realized Birdman was a great guy when he accompanied her to all of her shows and would check up on her every night.
“Every day I had a show, he came… Every night he would ask me, ‘Are you okay? Are you good?’ I said, ‘Oh my God, he’s such a great guy!'”
Not much time passed before Birdman took things to the next level.
“He told me he always liked me and I was like, ‘You never told me!’ And he’s like, ‘Well, you were married!’ He said, ‘I was always digging you.'”
While battling lupus, prepping for her musical comeback, and traveling all over the world to promote Sex & Cigarettes, Toni said that most of the time, she is physically and emotionally drained. Lupus involves the constant threat of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms.
In 2008, Toni was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease after collapsing while performing in Las Vegas. Several doctors thought it was a mild heart attack, however, she was later diagnosed with lupus, according to People magazine. For Toni, and many others battling with lupus, the body’s immune system mistakes healthy tissues in the body as foreign invaders and attacks them, instead of targeting the bad bacteria and viruses.
When Braxton was first diagnosed with lupus, she was married to musician Keri Lewis. It was during this time that she formed a tight bond with Birdman. The 49-year-old Cash Money Records co-founder was her best friend for almost 16 years. Braxton said that she never imagined that years later, she would be dating and getting married to the rapper.
“He’s been my bestie for like 15 or 16 years… He has come to my baby showers, my plays, my shows. I never thought we would be dating or getting married.”
Birdman became Toni’s biggest cheerleader and supported her through very difficult periods in her life. The “Un-Break My Heart” singer also credits her career revival to R&B singer Babyface, who urged her to continue making music.
Toni revealed that Birdman comforted her with his words. According to Toni, the rapper would tell her, “It’s okay to be ill and that you don’t have to be Wonder Woman at all times.”
Braxton said that she has no regrets about taking their companionship out of the “friend zone.”
Rumors that Toni and Birdman were dating sparked after they were spotted at the 2016 BET Awards.
However, Braxton said that she never has to “fake” the status of her lupus around Birdman because he always “understands.” In fact, even if Toni “tries to put on a happy face,” Birdman can tell when Toni isn’t feeling well.
“I can get on television when I’m having a terrible day and tell them it’s a good day, and he’ll say, ‘No, it’s not. I can tell… I’ve always had issues dating because I was ashamed to have lupus and felt like no one would want to take care of a woman with lupus – I was insecure.”
Toni said that with Birdman, she feels comfortable in a hat, a little lipstick, and some mascara. The singer said it feels great that she found someone who she can relax and be casual around.
“With him, I can be comfortable with a little hat or skully on with some lipstick and mascara, but I can just let my hair down a little bit and that feels great.”