I wouldn’t say I was religious, but I am spiritual. I believe in a greater force. When I was seven, my family became very religious. We were Jehovah’s Witnesses; we were Catholic – we tried everything before settling on United Methodist. I asked my mum once what they were searching for and she just replied: “It was the 70s.” The 70s were a very religious era. I think a lot of people were looking for the right path.
I didn’t realise I could sing until my teenage years. Singing was so much a part of me and my family. We got up, we sang, we went to bed. I think at elementary school I realised I had a different tone. My voice was always low. I remember everyone in class singing Joy to the World and I was the only one who couldn’t sing it in the key. I was always the kid in the room with the low voice that made you turn around.
Nobody believes how I was discovered. They think it’s a story for publicity, but it’s absolutely true. I was in college and one day I was at the gas station, singing to myself while I filled the car. The attendant [William E Pettaway Jr, writer of Girl You Know It’s True, by Milli Vanilli] comes up to me and tells me he likes my voice and that he’d like to do some demos with me. I thought it was just a line, but I went with it and here I am. He went on to buy the gas station!
I regret not having more sex when I was younger. I should have drank more. I should have partied more. Smoked more, even. I think my religious upbringing stopped me doing a lot of things that I should have done. It’s not a good look at the age I am now. The way it works is you do that stuff in your 20s and 30s and then in your 40s you’ve earned enough to pay for the therapy.
I was starstruck meeting Stevie Wonder. He was touching my face – which is how he “sees” – and telling me how beautiful I was. I was, like: “You could cop a feel right now, Stevie, and I wouldn’t care – you’re Stevie Wonder!” I’m a huge fan. Meeting him was absolutely massive to me.
I wish autism wasn’t so misunderstood. My son was diagnosed with autism when he was three and I work with the charity Autism Speaks. I’m blessed. He’s in a regular school now. I always tell people that early diagnosis changes everything, but also that our babies just learn differently – that’s all.
I’m a classic Libra. I’m always trying to find balance. I do have misplaced anger, though. I need to learn to deal with frustration as and when it happens, not to let it all build up. But it’s good to know your flaws. I don’t trust people who don’t think there’s anything about themselves to work on. We’re all works in progress.
Toni Braxton’s latest album, Spell My Name, is out now