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Powerhouse R&B diva Toni Braxton is co-producing her album Snowflakes with her husband, keyboardist Keri Lewis, and is collaborating on a line of baby gifts called Emily B — all while expecting her first child, a boy, on Christmas Day.
We caught up with the five-time Grammy winner when she was 6 1/2 months pregnant.
Fit Pregnancy: At 5 feet 2, you’re normally such a teensy-weensy, curvy girl. Now you’re all baby.
Toni Braxton: I’m all baby. Although I must say, my thighs are doing something a little different.
Don’t worry — it goes away.
I hope so. I’m doing low-impact aerobics, but mostly just recording the album. Singing gives me a real workout. We just finished.
Yikes! Singing into the third trimester.
It was very, ve-r-r-ry challenging. Singing takes breathing technique, and the baby was pressing on my lungs. Plus, there’s this thing called pregnancy sinuses. It made my pitch horrible. I kept having to do tracks over and over.
You’re known for your great emotional phrasing. Could you get to the feelings more easily while pregnant?
Not in work mode. But last weekend I had this crybaby moment. I couldn’t remember which freeway to take to get home. Finally I got home and put our Maltese terrier on my lap, and she peed! I called my husband sobbing, “The dog peed on me!” He said, “I’ll come right home.” And I said, “No! Stay away! I smell like pee!”
On an emotional level, the worst thing was hearing about [singer] Aaliyah’s death. She’s like extended family. We were recording “This Time Next Year,” and I couldn’t sing. When we went back to record it, I had a hard time. I knew I had to or I wouldn’t be able to sing it again. Ever.
Aaliyah and Sept. 11. What a time you’ve had.
Yeah, but I keep thinking, the baby’s coming soon; I have a life growing inside me. I already know I’m having a boy.
What were your cravings?
First it was Doritos and applesauce. Then cheese pizza, but I had to dip the pizza in French dressing. Now I’m into Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats. They’re my security food.
Do you sing lullabies to your tummy?
Oh, sure, I love singing to him. Mostly I make stuff up — you know, silly stuff.
Fast forward 12 years. Your son is almost a teenager and he’s reading the lyrics to your song “You’re Making Me High,” which is pretty steamy, if memory serves.
Oh, don’t remind me! I have absolutely no idea what I’ll tell him if he asks about that!
Were any of your choices on the new album influenced by the fact that you’re about to be a mom?
The title song. My husband and I wrote it. “On this day/snowy day/I thank you for the joy you’ve given me/I’m so happy/I have snowflakes of love/smiling down on me.” That and “Holiday Celebrate” are my favorite tracks.
Because … ?
Because I have so much to celebrate.
— Celeste Fremon