We’re lucky to have even have had the chance to partake in any star-spotting this year given the circumstances we’ve been in! And even though what we got was a reduced version of TIFF ’21 this year, we’re still thrilled that talent still came through, while production on various Series and Films also continued around town this year. And as always we’re happy to go as close as the talent want to get, ensuring safety first. One day we’ll look back and call this our “Masked Era”.
While this is only a fraction of the quantity of star sightings we’ve had in the past, we did our best to do what we do safely. Some exciting names still passed through Toronto in 2021 and we were there!
I’d have to say it was epic that Toronto’s Simu Liu exploded onto the international stage as a mega star for his work in Marvel Studios’ SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. Not only was it amazing catching-up in person – he actually remembered my name – we also got a quick interview with him! Other names like Rebecca Ferguson, whom we’ve admire for quite a while, came through for TIFF ’21 and we’re glad we finally got to meet her properly! And when do we not get excited to see Jessica Chastain in-town? One of our highlights was getting a Selfie with Mila Kunis, whom we love, together with beanie bright and early in the AM? While concerts were scaled back quite a bit this year, we’re happy to have met some emerging names on the international scene who actually happen to be Canadian, like Mustafa the Poet and BBNo$! And how cool was it that hot off his venture into space, earning him the distinction of oldest person ever to go to space, William Shatner came to Toronto for Fan Expo Limited Edition?
Let’s take a walk down memory lane!
See some of our favourite star sightings of 2021, in no particular order!
While we will wait a bit for these case counts to go down, we look forward to Toronto being the star-studded City it once was once again!
I’ve met many idols over the years but this hands-down, is a major highlight for me. To say I was obsessed with Toni Braxton growing-up, is totally under-selling my love for her. The seven-time Grammy-winning R&B Queen undisputedly is a legend, selling over 70 million albums worldwide. She still is delivering the goods and her 2020 effort SPELL MY NAME was just wonderful!
The Songstressis in-town filming an Adaptation of R. Franklin James’ FALLEN ANGELS BOOK CLUB, in which she stars and produces. She plays the lead role of Hollis Morgan, a former criminal turned sleuth, who sets-out to investigate a string of murders in her Book Club. The Film, which potentially could be a Series, is filming currently in Barrie and will air sometime next year on Lifetime.
Braxton is a fighter and a survivor, parlaying her household recognition into TV success in the Reality sphere and more recently, TV Movies which is her reason being in Toronto after a bit of an absence from these parts.
Her self-titled debut LP, Secrets and The Heat defined an entire decade for me. The command of her Alto and the conviction in which she vocalizes a story in her songs, has the ability to empower or move one to tears. She digs that extra layer deeper, and finds moments in each song that make them unmistakably her. I am not exaggerating when I say Toni Braxton has a very special gift which few Vocalists possess and she truly is a favourite of mine. For me, it is Whitney, Mariah and Toni. I love all three equally and put them all on a pedestal.
Braxton arrived with lots of luggage in tow, covering-up in chunky sunglasses, in a Chanel mask and carrying a Chanel bag. Her very public battle with Lupus is well-documented, and she has taken every precaution to protect herself amidst the Pandemic. More recently, she was seen on The Masked Singer as the Pufferfish and it is said her wearing a mask beneath her costume further hindered her ability to deliver, resulting in a premature elimination. No one can deny her level of skill as a Singer and the backlash is maybe a bit warranted.
Well aware of her health being a concern, we kept a safe distance and suggested a distanced Selfie which she accommodated expressively. We were overjoyed to meet her finally after many years of admiration/adoration. While you might have your doubts, we know that is Toni Braxton in the Photo and that’s all that matters and we will never forget this moment!
It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from Toni Braxton. We confess. Her early catalog was the sound of our teen years which still stand among our favorite albums of all time. Seeing her live finally in the mid-2000s was a highlight and well worth the trouble getting all the way to a casino two hours out of the City. While we haven’t kept-up with her music, which we admit hasn’t had the same lustre it had at the height of her fame, it is like a warm blanket listening to her soothing, velvety Alto again in what’s been a not-so-great run for Pop/R&B – a genre she helped pioneer – in the past decade.
Braxton is back with her tenth studio album, SPELL MY NAME and Producer Antonio Dixon(Ariana Grande, Beyonce) returns once again after the Grammy-nominated success of 2018’s Sex & Cigarettes. Braxton has a hand in writing all tracks on the Collection – a concise nine tracks including two versions of Do It, one with Missy Elliott. The Album is a quick listen, a majority of it minor-sounding despite starting-off on a upbeat note with current single DANCE. The Disco-infused track recalls Chic and Nile Rodgers, as Braxton shrugs-off the blues of her lover and his infidelity, instead wanting to just dance. While this goes completely against the grain of where R&B is right now, Braxton does this well. The rhythm and her vocals are precise and we want more, but this is the end of the fun as she has something to say and things slow down.
First single DO IT lands on familiar territory. Braxton is the voice of your soul sister. Some of you out there might be stuck in a stagnant relationship or you might be putting-up with some damage that is beyond repair and she is that confidante you need to tell you that you need to do exactly what it is you know you need to. You get one version with Missy Elliott bantering with Braxton, and a solo version which is fine as is, towards the end.
H.E.R. lends a hand on GOTTA MOVE ON, which carries on the the conversation in DO IT. Titular track SPELL MY NAME is a gorgeous, sexy showpiece modernizing Braxton‘s repertoire with some Drake-esque moodiness, as she carries-on a fling with a younger man. Gorgeous orchestration that spares no cost with some elegant strings.
The remainder of the Disc sees Braxton grappling with a love that feels so right even though it is so wrong for her on SATURDAY NIGHT.
We are gifted with gorgeous Country-Soul ballad NOTHIN‘ a bonus track co-produced and co-written by longtime Collaborator Babyface that is so good we wish the Album had more of this melodic beauty that we’ve come to love of Braxton. In all, some of Braxton‘s best work in a bit over the span of a career which has always placed quality over quantity.
Universal Music Canada release SPELL MY NAME, in stores now. Buy it now here.