Tionne Tenese Watkins (born April 26, 1970), better known by her stage name T-Boz, is an American singer-songwriter, dancer, actress, author and executive producer who rose to fame as being part of the R&B/Hip-Hop girl group TLC.
Tionne Tenese Watkins was born in Des Moines, Iowa to James and Gayle Watkins. She is of African American and Native American descent. As a child, Watkins was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia and thus, has been in and out of hospitals due to her condition. At age 9, her family moved from Iowa to Georgia. Because of her disease, Watkins was not expected to have children or live past 30-years-old, but has done both.
An Atlanta resident Crystal Jones held auditions for a girl group and chose Watkins and Lisa Lopes and eventually attracted the attention of Perri "Pebbles" Reid and her husband, LaFace Records chief Antonio "L.A." Reid. L.A. Reid replaced Jones with Rozonda Thomas and the group signed to LaFace Records in 1991. They went on to become one of the most successful girl groups in history with over 65 million records sold worldwide. T-Boz has won five Grammy Awards for her work with TLC.
In late 2011, VH1 announced the development of a biopic about TLC scheduled to air in 2013. Both Thomas and Watkins signed on as producers. The role of Watkins was portrayed by actress/singer Drew Sidora in the film, which was named CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story. It premiered on October 21, 2013 and became the highest-rated television film premiere of 2013, as well as the highest-rated original film premiere in VH1 history, with a viewership of 4.5 million. Watkins' daughter, Chase, even had a small role in the film as Young Tionne.
In additon to her work with TLC, Watkins recorded solo singles as well, including: "Touch Myself" (for the 1996 film soundtrack to Fled), "My Getaway" (for the 2000 film soundtrack to Rugrats in Paris: The Movie) and "Champion". In addition, she has been featured as a vocalist on such songs as "Ghetto Love" with Da Brat, "Changes" with Society of Soul, "He Say She Say" with Keith Sweat", "Different Times" with Raphael Saadiq, "Be Somebody"with Paula Cole and "Red Planet" with Little Mix. She even made a guest appearance on an unreleased track by Thomas called "Gameproof" that was recorded for an inclusion on her shelved Bi-Polar album.
Television and filmEdit
Aside from her music career, Watkins also had an acting career. She appeared in Hype Williams' 1998 film Belly, two episodes of Living Single and appeared as a friend Kandi Burruss on an episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Watkins was also a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice, where she was fired for volunteering to come back into the boardroom. Watkins also served as one of the executive producers on the 2006 film ATL, which featured rapper T.I. and was featured in the music video for "It's Good" by YoungBloodZ.
In October 2012, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Watkins would have her own reality show Totally T-Boz on the TLC network. The show premiered on January 1, 2013 and lasted for four episodes, chronicling quest to record a solo album, possibly reunite with Thomas for TLC's 20th anniversary and take care of herself and her daughter Chase.
Watkins published a book of semi-autobiographical poetry called Thoughts on November 3, 1999. In 2005, Watkins and stylist Tara Brivic Rowntee opened a children's boutique called Chase's Closet (which was named after Watkin's daugther).
Initially withholding details of her ailment from others, Watkins went public with her disease in 1996 and became a spokesperson for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. In 2002, she was hospitalized for four months due to a flare-up of sickle cell anemia. She has stated that her faith in God and her optimism has helped her stay free from the more serious effects of sickle cell anemia. In October 2009, Watkins revealed on CBS's The Early Show and in People magazine that she had secretly battled a potentially fatal brain tumor for three years. In March 2006, she was diagnosed as having a strawberry-sized acoustic neuroma on her vestibular nerve, which affected her balance, hearing, sight and facial movement. Many physicians refused to remove the tumor due to her sickle cell anemia complications, leaving her alternates grim; ultimately she had it removed through a surgery performed at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California.
From 1994 to 1997, Watkins was involved in a relationship with Jodeci member Dalvin DeGrate. In 2000, Watkins married rapper Mack 10 and the couple's daugther, Chase Anela Rolison, was born on October 20, 2000. In June 2004, she filed for a divorce and requested a restraining order against Mack 10. Following the split, Watkins dated Takeo Spikes of the San Diego Chargers for three years.
It has been revealed by Watkins that one of her uncles married Lisa Lopes' mom, which would make Watkins and Lopes cousins.