Singer, songwriter, actress and living legend Toni Braxton has a famed and storied career in music. Recently turning 50, but not looking like it, the diva has touched hearts and minds with her incomparable voice since her debut single, “Love Should Have Brought You Home,” from the Boomerang soundtrack. At the 2017 Soul Train Awards, Braxton was honored with the Don Cornelius Legend Award, a small token of appreciation for her countless hits.
The tribute started with a few extra kind words from presenter Anthony Anderson and a quick video that took us from Toni’s roots in the church to her status as a global icon. Babyface and LA Reid described the passion and talent of the young Toni and her mother Evelyn Braxton gave us a more intimate view of the star, while Ledisi spoke on how she has been an inspiration to her.
While we would have rather have had Ledisi on the stage singing her heart out than in the video saying a few kind words, Ro James, Jessie J and Luke James didn’t do too bad paying homage to the esteemed singer. The first tribute performance came from lothario Ro singing “Seven Whole Days.” The “Permission” singer’s raspy voice wasn’t exactly a good fit for the song. He didn’t seem heartbroken as much as he was just happy to be on stage paying tribute to Ms. Braxton in his lacy shirt and black leather pants. Ro’s performance was followed up by British belter Jessie J who did her best Toni impression while singing “You Mean The World To Me.” Wearing a black pantsuit sans shirt, she lowered her voice a few octaves to give you that classic Toni sound. While not quite there, she gave us a good performance and made things hard for the next singer, Luke James, but he was ready. Wearing Marvin Gaye’s skully cap, Michael Jackson’s sweater from the “Rock With You Video” and one of Jody Watley’s hoop earrings, James called upon the powers of the greats to sing, “Un-break My Heart,” hitting quite the high note in the process. Ro and Jessie joined Mr. James on stage to close out the tribute.