Toni Byrd, dubbed as "The Velvet SongByrd," is a world class recording artist, songwriter, award winner of the 2014 Black Women In Jazz for Best Black Female Jazz Record for "Autumn In New York", semi-finalist in the 2014 Indaba Music "Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition" and is an unforgettable and versatile song stylist. In addition to all of her credits, add actress to her impressive list. Currently based in Atlanta, this beautiful native Memphian was cast in a primary role playing the character “Ida Belle" in the movie, "Lawless," an American crime drama film directed by John Hillcoat with screenplay by Nick Cave and starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pierce, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowksa, Jason Clarke and Gary Oldman. She recorded background vocals for the TV series pilot, "Still The King", starring Billy Ray Cyrus and in December of 2016, under the historical Obama Administration, performed at the White House Tour in Washington, DC. She is the first female vocalist to perform at the legendary Pinewood Atlanta Studios (known for James Bond, Marvel and Pirates of the Caribbean movies) in 2014 for the kickoff gala celebrating the New American location in Fayetteville, Georgia.
Byrd began her professional career in music in 1996 in Memphis, Tennessee. Her father, Lionel Byrd, who was a member of a 60's musical group, The 4 Kings in Memphis Tennessee, did not restrict her to one genre of music. She listened to gospel, jazz, R&B, pop, American Funk and Country Music. Byrd recalls hearing opera singer, Leontyne Price, in a commercial for the United Negro College Fund. "While growing up I never knew there were African American opera singers and found myself imitating the richness and clarity of this beautiful woman's voice." Her other influences include singers, Nat King Cole, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, Roberta Flack, Ella Fitzgerald, Karen Carpenter, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight, Anita Baker, Maysa, Yolanda Adams, Andre Crouch and The Hawkins Family, to mention a few. "I am thankful to my father and to those amazing vocal icons who helped influence my early musical development and helped me find my own voice."
Due to Toni's extraordinary talent, she has drawn the attention of many talented musicians, vocalists and bands across the country. One of her longest running musical relationships was with a local big band, The Peachtree Jazz Edition, in Georgia where she was the vocalist for 16 years. "The Peachtree Jazz Edition band was my family and a huge part of my life. They were very instrumental from the beginning and exposed me to great audiences." Toni has performed in the UK, Portugal, Berlin, Czech-Republic, The Jazz Corner in South Carolina, St. Simons Island in Brunswick, Georgia, Tuskegee University, and The Jazz Loft in Columbus, Georgia. She has also performed at some of Atlanta's most prestigious venues including Capital City Club, The Rialto Theater, Four Seasons Hotel, The Georgian Terrace, The Velvet Note, The Fox Theater's Egyptian Room, The Georgia Aquarium, and Churchill Grounds. Byrd has opened for Gladys Knight, Kenny G, Alex Bugnon, Wycliffe Gordon, Andre Crouch, Vickie Winans, Take 6, and has performed after parties for Norman Brown, Eric Darius, Pieces of A Dream, Richard Elliot, George Benson and Boney James. Adding to this notable list, she was the headlining artist to perform before the legendary Dionne Warwick at a tribute in her honor. Ms. Warwick had nothing but rave reviews!
Byrd first recorded on a live music project that was produced by Stax Records songwriter and National Songwriter's Hall of Famer, David Porter. She recorded again with the Stellar Award nominated choir, Billy Rivers and The Angelic Voices of Faith, on their 1999 album, "Gotta Lift Him". In 2010 Byrd was a co-producer on her first collaborated jazz project, "No Greater Love....Remembering Billie Holiday." In July 2017 She released her first solo Inspirational Jazz EP, "Forever You're My God" where she is credited as producer along with David Gaissert, producer. "Forever You're My God" was nominated in 2017 by The Rhythm of Gospel Awards in 4 categories: EP/Digital Album of the Year, Praise/Worship Song of the Year, Best Performance by Female Artist and Inspirational Song of the Year. She is the featured vocalist on a recording that gave tribute to Natalie Cole entitled "Toni Sings Natalie...A Natalie Cole Tribute" which was released in January 2019.
Byrd performs regularly at Sweet Georgia's Juke Joint in downtown Atlanta, Hanna Brothers Studio Cafe located in the Production Center at the beautiful Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayetteville, Georgia and at The Cellar At Firestone in downtown Newnan, Georgia.
The 4 Kings by Marv Goldberg
Based on an interview with Lionel Byrd
© 2004, 2009 by Marv Goldberg
The Peachtree Jazz Edition
The Rhythm of Gospel Awards
Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices of Faith