Toni Byrd, dubbed as "The Velvet SongByrd," is a world class international jazz vocalist and recording artist, songwriter, award winner of the 2014 Black Women In Jazz, semi-finalist in the 2014 Indaba Music Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition; and 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 2012 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. Byrd 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. In 2014 Byrd was the first female vocalist to perform at a grand opening for the legendary Pinewood Studios' American site formerly located in Fayetteville, Georgia. Pinewood Studios is known as a base for many productions over the years from large-scale films, including the James Bond, Marvel and Pirates of the Caribbean movie enterprises to television programs, commercials, and pop promos.
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 is with a local big band known as the Peachtree Jazz Edition. From this band she was given the opportunity to perform some of the greatest big band standards in and around the surrounding Atlanta area in front of appreciative audiences. Currently, Byrd has her own big band and has performed on many stages with her popular show, "Toni Sings Natalie...A Tribute to Natalie Cole." Byrd has performed in the UK, Portugal, Berlin, Czech-Republic, The Jazz Corner in South Carolina, St. Simons Island in Brunswick, Georgia, Tuskegee University, The Good Times Jazz Bar & Restaurant in Savannah and The Jazz Loft in Columbus, Georgia. She has also performed at some of Atlanta's most prestigious venues including The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, 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.
In 2021 Byrd performed on stage in Atlanta with Grammy Award winning artist, Peabo Bryson, on two of his greatest hits..."Tonight I Celebrate My Love," a song he recorded with Roberta Flack in 1983 and the Disney hit "A Whole New World", the main theme song Bryson recorded with singer, Regina Belle, in 1992 for the Disney animated feature film, "Aladdin". Byrd has performed as an opening artist 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 of 2017, Toni wrote and released her first solo of original songs on her Inspirational Jazz EP, Forever You're My God. This EP was nominated that same year 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. Byrd is the featured vocalist on a recording that gave tribute to Natalie Cole entitled Toni Sings Natalie...A Natalie Cole Tribute released in January 2019.
Byrd performs regularly at The Cellar At Firestone in downtown Newnan, Georgia and at Sweet Georgia's Juke Joint in downtown Atlanta.
The 4 Kings by Marv Goldberg
Based on an interview with Lionel Byrd
© 2004, 2009 by Marv Goldberg
The Peachtree Jazz Edition
Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices of Faith
The Rhythm of Gospel Awards