R&B star Toni Braxton is leaving Arista Records to join Blackground Records, Billboard Bulletin has learned. Universal-distributed Blackground has tentative plans to issue a new Braxton album Sept. 16, preceded by the first single in June or July.
“Toni is one of the most distinctive and powerful voices to come out in the last 25-30 years,” Blackground founder Barry Hankerson, who also manages Braxton, tells Bulletin. “This signing is an incredible opportunity to literally continue the development process. With most artists you look to put out one or two albums. With Toni, you know she will have a career for decades to come.”
Braxton’s last album, 2002’s “More Than a Woman,” has sold 375,000 units in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. Before that, the artist recorded five albums for Arista imprint LaFace, including 2000’s “The Heat,” which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tally and has sold more than 2 million copies.
Arista executives had no comment.