Tionne Tenese Watkins (born April 26, 1970), better known by her stage name T-Boz, is a singer, songwriter, dancer, actress, author, and executive producer who rose to fame as one-third of the R&B/hip hop group TLC.
Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins was born in Des Moines, Iowa to James & Gayle Watkins. She is of African American and Native American descent. As a child, Watkins was diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia. Since the age of seven, Watkins has been in and out of hospital due to her condition. Watkins' family moved from Des Moines to Atlanta, Georgia, when she was nine years old. Because of her disease, Watkins was not expected to have children or live past her 30s, but has done both.
An Atlanta woman named Crystal Jones held auditions for a singing group and chose Watkins, and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes. The group eventually attracted the attention of Perri "Pebbles" Reid and her husband, Antonio "L.A." Reid, head of LaFace Records. Jones was replaced with Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and the group was signed in 1991 as TLC. 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 four Grammy Awards for her work with TLC.
In late 2011, VH1 announced plans to produce a biopic on TLC to air in 2013. Watkins and Thomas signed on as producers. The role of Watkins was portrayed by actress/singer Drew Sidora in CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.
In addition to her work with TLC, Watkins recorded solo singles, including: "Touch Myself" (For the soundtrack of the 1996 film Fled) and "My Getaway" (for the soundtrack to the 2000 film Rugrats in Paris: The Movie.) In addition, she has been a featured 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 and "Be Somebody" with Paula Cole. Watkins has appeared on a song by her TLC bandmate Rozonda Thomas, entitled "Gameproof".
Television and film:
Watkins has worked as an actress, appearing in Hype Williams' 1998 film Belly. She also appeared in an episode of Living Single, the first time guest-starring along with her bandmates and another time without them. Watkins also served as one of the executive producers for the 2006 movie ATL featuring the rapper, T.I.. She was also featured in the music video for "It's Good" with YoungBloodZ, and appeared on The Real Housewives of Atlanta as a friend of Kandi Burruss. T-Boz was a contestant in The Celebrity Apprentice, where she was fired for volunteering to come back into the boardroom. After referencing a previous contestant who was fired from the show for the same action, Donald Trump told her, "Never volunteer for an execution."
Watkins published a book of semi-autobiographical poetry called Thoughts on November 3, 1999. In 2005, Watkins and stylist Tara Brivic Rowntree (who would later appear regularly on Totally T-Boz) opened a children's boutique called Chase's Closet (named after her daughter). It was shut down years later, but it's still named one of the best children's stores today.
On October 1, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Watkins will have her own reality TV show Totally T-Boz on the TLC network.Totally T-Boz premiered January 1, 2013. The show chronicled Watkins' quest to create a solo album, reunite with bandmember, Chilli, and take care of herself and daughter Chase.
During 2013, alongside group-mate Chilli they executive produced the VH1 biopic CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story which aired on October 21, 2013, actress Drew Sidora portrayed Watkins. They also released a soundtrack album 20 marking both the band's 20-plus year legacy in entertainment business and the release of their biopic, this album included a new track written by singer Ne-Yo, "Meant to Be." They also had guest vocals on J. Cole's track "Crooked Smile". TLC celebrated their return with a series of highly-publicized performances which included 2 dates: VH1's Mixtape Festival in Hershey, PA on July 27th, 2013 and Drake's OVO Fest in Toronto on August 5th, 2013. They are expected to release a new studio album in 2014.
Initially withholding details of her ailment from others, Watkins went public with the disease in 1996 and later became one of the spokespeople for 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 disease.
From 1994 to 1997, she was in a relationship with Jodeci member, Dalvin DeGrate.
In August 2000, Watkins married rapper Mack 10. The couple's daughter, Chase Anela Rolison, was born on October 20, 2000. In June 2004, she filed for divorce and requested a restraining order against Mack 10. Following the split, Watkins entered a three-year relationship with Takeo Spikes of the San Diego Chargers.
In October 2009, Watkins revealed on CBS' 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-size 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-related complications, leaving her alternatives grim; ultimately she underwent surgery at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.
It has been revealed by Watkins that one of her uncles married the mother of Lisa Lopes, thus making her and Lopes cousins.
Watkins, Tionne (1999). Thoughts. HarperEntertainment. ISBN 978-0-06-105183-8.