We had the good fortune of connecting with Toni Byrd and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Toni, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
When the urge to keep believing and holding on to hope, no matter the circumstances; or what you perceive as real, is stronger than giving in or giving up, the only option is to keep going…keep believing. It is so easy to let go when it seems like the odds are against you. You never know how close you are to the prize; and the only way you will know is by holding on to faith, not giving up and believing that, with God, ALL things are possible.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Singing has always been in me. When asked how long I have been a singer, my response is always, “Since before I came to the earth.” My father was a singer and I have to give credit to him and admit that I am a chip off of the old block. The only thing that sets me apart from others is my own style, uniqueness and ability to bring audiences into my world. Each of us have our own unique way and with that said, my uniqueness is what sets me apart. It definitely has not, and still, is not easy. Choosing music was probably the worst and best profession I could have chosen. There are so many ups and downs, even being a local singer; but some of the rewards have been wonderful. Once I chose music, I was exposed to so many talented vocalists and musicians; and because of that exposure, I had the privilege of traveling to Portugal, London and Germany to perform before some wonderful audiences. With people pushing me to be my best, I was able to overcome a lot of challenges, especially to believe that I was worthy of my craft. I have learned that you do not take anyone or anything for granted in life. Everyone has a place in our lives; some more than others. Without the love and support of my friends, family; and my fans, I would definitely not have accomplished what I have in the years I have been doing this thing called, music.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend was visiting Atlanta, I would hope it is in May when the Atlanta Jazz Festival is in full swing. The many groups that perform there, both local acts and international, is something you will never forget. Along with Atlantic Station, The Fox Theater and so much more, it would be a never ending experience. Being from Memphis, I love BBQ. There is a wonderful place on 14th Street called Moe’s BBQ. When I first went there, I was skeptical because Memphis was the best in BBQ in my opinion. I was pleasantly surprised at how wonderful the BBQ tasted and to learn that the owner actually participated in several Memphis In May Contests. Long Horn, on Peachtree Road has a uniqueness about them in that they have live jazz musicians playing while the guests enjoy a nice steak dinner! If you love a great burger, Ted’s Montana Grill is the place to go! They have this lovely drink called a Huckleberry Margarita that I absolutely love, and order, each time I visit. Hanging out at one of the night spots where open mic, with the accompaniment of musicians playing for you, would be a fun thing to do. These are some of the most interesting and exciting things to do in Atlanta. Of course a week would not be enough time to experience it all.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
God is the main source of my life and I am encouraged by Him everyday I am allowed to open my eyes to a new day. My mother is the one who gave me life; and without her love, encouragement and support, I do not know where I would be. I have to acknowledge my father, Reverend Lionel Byrd, who passed away in 2004; but is ever present whenever I think of him and when I am performing. There are others who have encouraged me to be the best I can, my daughters, Sharon and Lindsey, my sister, Sharon, one of my closet friends, Carolyn and the love of my life, David; who always believed in me, brought out the best in me and pushed me out of my comfort zone.