Tony Toni Toné
What makes a music legend? Perhaps it’s the ability to leave aninimitable, lasting imprint on the world. By that definition, Tony Toni Toné’s contribution to music is most certainly legendary: a group regarded the world over as a talented, authentic group of musicians who made some of the best R&B music of the 80's and 90's. From fun, upbeat, smash hits like “Feels Good,” to blues-leaning classics like “The Blues” to their signature love ballads like “Anniversary,” the sound of Tony Toni Toné is soulful, organic, classic, and instantly recognizable.Their ability to create songs that perfectly married the stylings of the soul and funk gods of the 70's with the technology and hip-hop infused R&B of the 90s made them icons of their generation.
The story of Tony Toni Toné began in Oakland, California in the 1970's, where brothers D’Wayne Wiggins and Raphael Saadiq (born Charles Ray Wiggins) grew up, under the musical guidance of their father, blues guitarist Charlie Wiggins. The San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970's was a fertile ground of blues, jazz, R&B, rock, and funk music from legendary artists like Sly Stone, Larry Graham, and Tower of Power. That close proximity to music royalty and a lush and inspiring soundtrack, combined with the political and social movements the Bay Area was teeming with during the 1970s, gave D’Wayne and Raphael a music education ripe with backyard jams, activism, and big dreams.
Tony Toni Toné officially formed in 1986 and included D’Wayne on lead vocals and guitar, Raphael on lead vocals and bass, and their cousin, Timothy Christian Riley, on drums and keyboards. With the help of dream production and songwriting team Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy, the Tony's set out to make their musical mark on the world. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The group released five albums in all, including Who? (1988), The Revival (1990), Sons of Soul (1993), House of Music (1996), and Hits (1997). After their debut album, the trio quickly expanded their roles as singers and musicians to songwriters and producers of their music, leading to their distinctive sound and timeless songs that remain in rotation on radio stations today.
The Tony's stats are impressive by any music industry standards, past or present: 14 Billboard-charting R&B singles; including five number one hits, and three top ten pop singles, one gold album, two platinum albums and one double platinum album, and over six million albums sold.
Tony Toni Toné also enjoyed success from song placements on several movie soundtracks during the 80s and 90s, including, Boyz in the Hood, House Party II, Jason's Lyric, The Mask, Panther, and Poetic Justice. They’ve also amassed an impressive amount of awards, including a 1991 NAACP Image Award for "Vocal Group Of The Year," a 1991 American Music Award for "Favorite R&B/Soul Group," and an ASCAP Award for their single, "Feels Good."
During the mid-90s, D’Wayne, Raphael, and Tim each began to pursue individual projects, and all three have had success writing and producing songs for other artists. Raphael has enjoyed great success as a songwriter and Producer, scoring hits for D'Angelo, John Legend, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, The Roots, Joss Stone, and many others. He’s also devoted the last several years to his solo career, and has released five albums to date.
D’Wayne has also had success with other projects since Tony Toni Toné’s last release, including a solo album which featured Carlos Santana on "Move With Me" and Darius Rucker on "Music Is Power", television and film soundtrack placements, Producing credits for artists like Jody Watley, Destiny’s Child, and Alicia Keys, and developing and producing documentaries and independent films. D’Wayne is also credited with developing and nurturing the early careers of Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, and Keyshia Cole, all of whom spent significant time in his Oakland recording studio, making music and learning the ins and outs of the music industry. He also continues to combine his love of artist development and community outreach with projects like the Tony School of Music afterschool program for kids, and Poplyfe, a group of young artists who’ve been featured on the hit show America’s Got Talent.
Tim has also been busy with his own projects over the past several years. In the mid-90s, he formed aproduction company called Nature Boy Productions, which spawned the R&B group, Art n’ Soul. Tim Produced Art n’ Soul’s album, which included the top ten single, “Ever Since You Went Away.” He also Produced Danish artist Thomas Helmig’s album, Groovy Day, which sold a total of 2 million units. Tim has also Produced music and played keyboards and drums on songs from several artists, including Nick Lachey, Tyrese Gibson, Tevin Campbell, Kelly Rowland, and Beyoncé. He also added film scores to his growing list of credits with the 2003 movie, Rude Boy: The Jamaican Don. Tim was also featured on the series finale of The Jamie Foxx Show, appearing in the episode as a piano player. He also co-wrote a song with Jamie Foxx for the series finale, and performed the song with Jamie Foxx, Gladys Knight, Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis Jr., and Gerald Levert. Tim’s latest venture is the creation of his own record label, Signature Soul Recordings. The label will release music from emerging gospel artists, including a forthcoming project from B. McCargo and Kingdom Worship.
With Raphael busy focusing on his solo and Producing work, Amar Khalil took the reins as lead singer of the Tonys in 1999 and currently tours with original members D’Wayne Wiggins and Timothy Christian Riley. Amar is both an impressive vocalist and natural performer, displaying endless energy and showmanship during Tony Toni Toné’s live shows. In 2004 the group was featured on the song "Diary" with Alicia Keys which was nominated for a Grammy in the catagory of Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group.
D’Wayne, Tim, and Amar continue to perform to packed houses throughout the world. Recent shows included a performance at Wembley Stadium in London. Whether they’re performing at an intimate venue or a huge arena, every show is filled with enthusiastic audiences who come to experience Tony Toni Toné’s unique brand of classic, enduring music, which they’ve been serving to loyal fans for 27 years and counting.