Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 08/23/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/23/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

>Toni Braxton

FERVENT ABOUT THE BLUES

AS A LITTLE GIRL CROWING UP IN SEVERN, Md., Toni Braxton was forbidden to listen to the kind of music she now makes. Also off limits in her strict household were dancing, movies and most TV shows. "My parents were very, very, very religious," says Braxton, 25, the eldest of six children. Her father, Michael, was a power-company employee and an Apostolic minister; mother Evelyn worked as a cosmetology instructor. "When they would go out, I would sneak and watch Soul train.

At age 6, Braxton started singing in her church choir. Later she studied piano, appeared in local talent shows and started writing her own songs, influenced by the music of Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and Chaka Khan. In 1990, Braxton and her four sisters recorded a pop single that went, as she puts it, "zinc and copper."

She explains her affinity for the bluesy, lovelorn tracks on her current solo album this way: "I don't have a boyfriend. I guess guys think I already have one so I'm not available." Her dream date? "They're all taken. Evander Holyfield has a nice body," she says, "L.L. Cool has nice lips, Arsenio Hall has a nice butt, Johnny-Gill can sing. If I could merge all those guys, I'd be in the house, baby!"

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