The Hollywood Shuffle’s Starrene Rhett Rocque caught up with Traci Braxton to chat about her debut album, Crash and Burn, getting the torch from big sis Toni and her favorite reality TV shows.
What can fans expect from Crash and Burn?
Crash and Burn is not literally somebody, or me, crashing and burning like some people seem to think. Crash and Burn is talking about my life and choices that I made during the years and growing up. Sometimes you tend to have your parents, or your significant other, your girlfriend, or whatever, say to you, “You know, no, don’t do it right now. You can’t do that right now. Don’t work on that dream right now, but you need to do this until you can work on that dream.”
But no, you need to work on yourself and your dreams and who cares if you crash and burn if you don’t make it? That’s what the crash and burn means. If you don’t make it, you still have your integrity and you still did it for yourself. You can still get up, brush off, say, “Okay, that didn’t work. All right, I’m going to do it this way.” Or, “I’m going to do something else that I love.” That’s what Crash & Burn is.
Is there anything that you would have done different about your journey to where you are now?
I really don’t have anything. I don’t know what else I could do to do anything differently. I think I was patient enough. I was humble enough and it happened I guess because I wasn’t looking for it and it came to me. I’m real grateful for that.
Sonically, what can we expect from Crash and Burn?
What you can expect is R&B and it’s almost like a ’90s kind of R&B. It’s Jill Scott and Mary J Blige mixed together because that home girl still up in there.
Just out of curiosity, what’s your vocal range?
I’m a contralto.
That’s awesome. I know we’ve heard you go really deep, but you and your sisters all seem to have wide ranges.
We all can sing above range, first soprano, second soprano, but Towanda is the lowest. Her low registers really low.
I thought that was you this whole time.
No, I wish it was, shoot! I would be a bad, what’d you say!
But you’re the resident beatboxer out of the sisters, right?
I am. I used to play percussion. I used to play drums at my dad’s church and I was loving it because I didn’t have to wear a dress all the time. I was a tomboy so I was like, “Okay, nobody going to have time for dresses and stuff.
As far as the album, did you get any creative input from your sisters?
I did. First, I let Towanda hear my album my songs that I was doing and she’s a secret squirrel, because at first I didn’t want none of my sisters hear it. I was like, “Okay, I’m gonna do this by myself and I’m get this together.” When Towanda heard it, she was like, “No, Traci, you really got have Toni to hear this.” I was like, “Okay.” When I finally let Toni hear it, she gave me negative and positive criticism and at first I was like, “She don’t know what she talking about, whatever!”
Then I was like, “Wait a minute, Traci, yeah, she know what she talking about. She’s a six time Grammy winner.” Then I had Trina listen to it, then Tamar, and I had my brother listen to it because he wrote a song on my album called “Reasons.” Actually, it was for Toni and Toni never recorded it so I asked him for the song. I had to talk to Toni, telling her, “I think I want to do the ‘Reasons,’” and she said, “Oh, just go ahead.” I’m glad because it’s like when Anita Baker passed the torch to Toni, the songs that Anita Baker was supposed to do she was like, “Well, why can’t that girl do the song?” It was my sister. It felt like Toni’s Anita Baker and she gave me the torch and said, “Yeah, go on do this song.”
Your brother must be shy. He doesn’t really put himself out there, huh?
He really don’t like to show himself, but my brother can sing. He can write. My goodness, he’s like an R Kelly mixed in with Nat King Cole and Luther Vandross. You know how R Kelly sometime makes some crazy songs?
Like “Trapped In The Closet?”
Yes, that’s my brother all day long.
Moving on to your reality TV work, you did Marriage Boot Camp, which must have been a crazy process. Do you feel like you actually learned lessons that you could apply to your marriage? If so, what are some of the things you’ve learned?
Wow, being on Marriage Boot Camp…when it was presented to me, I was like, “I ain’t going on there. Man, nobody can tell me how to be married. I’ve been married for 18 years and together 22 years. What can they tell me?” But we did it and when I went in there I gave myself totally to the counselors and the process. My husband and I, our communication sucks. I had to realize too, I wasn’t giving him my all because I was giving my sisters my all. That’s all I knew. You had infidelity and I was upset about it. I thought I forgave him, but I actually I didn’t because it was still in my mind thinking about it like, “Is he going to do it again? Is he going to do this? Is he going to do that? Is he going to do that?” I said to him, “I’ll trust you again. I give you my trust again, but I wasn’t trusting him.” You understand? What they taught us was to communicate with each other. If you get upset, don’t hold it in. Talk about it and when you talk about it, let it go. Don’t bring it back up. You don’t need to bring it back up. It also showed me the choices that I have to make. I have to put him first before my family, my sisters—not everything because I’m not going to totally ditch my sisters. They my dogs right there.
Do you watch reality TV when you get the chance? What shows are you checking for?
I used to watch Joan [Rivers] and her daughter, but I can’t really watch it anymore when the show reruns, I just can’t. When I met Miss Joan, my goodness, she reminded me of my mom. We just clicked so much. The interactions were lovely. She was open and she was funny and I loved that show. I love Love & Hip Hop too, because it’s ratchet and Bad Girls Club because it’s ratchet. I also love Real Housewives of Atlanta.
Traci Braxton’s Crash and Burn is in stores now.