LaTonya Holmes – “The Cry Behind The Smile”
As a fiercely gifted and driven singer, actress, voiceover talent and advertising presence, LaTonya Holmes has worked her singular sparkle from Broadway to Hollywood as a coveted quadruple threat. Yet behind the effervescent energy and dazzling smile that keep her booked solid year-round, there is a woman with deeply painful yet extraordinarily triumphant stories to tell.
LaTonya almost lost her eyesight and livelihood from a debilitating stage accident on tour in “Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple” that required four specialists and two years of rehabilitation. She then tested the club music world with a cover of Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover” during which time her own love life was derailed by a crushing romantic betrayal. LaTonya retreated, reassessed and now returns – 3-years wiser – with personal, self-penned songs that reveal the cry behind her smile. The poignant introduction to these chapters is her ballad, “Things Change.”
“I want to empower women and men to not stay in bad situations…to be o.k. with things changing and people changing,” LaTonya says of the purpose behind the song. “I want people to get a look into my life and know that they are not alone in wanting love so badly that sometimes you settle. When my relationship started to go bad, I stayed to save face even though I knew it was over. I wasn’t perfect, either, but I learned from my mistakes. I came to realize that the best love is self love which is why I now have such peace about relationships.”
“‘Things Change’ came to me one night, waking me out of my sleep at 4 in the morning,” LaTonya clearly recalls. “I went on my balcony and wrote it right then. What I want listeners to take away from the song is you can’t hold everybody else accountable for things that change. You are responsible for your own growth. It’s o.k. to have your moment – to cry, cuss and fuss – but then you’ve got to release it, wish them well and press on. Don’t hinder your blessings. Love yourself first.”
Delicately produced by Myron McKinley (Earth Wind & Fire, Howard Hewett), “Things Change” places the focus on LaTonya’s voice and words. Refining her instrument under vocal coach Tim Carter (Tyrese, 5th Harmony), since her debut EP Love Me Just For Me in 2008, has shaped LaTonya’s already heart-piercing voice into golden tones of persuasion. Background vocals and arrangements were handled by her friend and first-call industry songbird Sharlotte Gibson (“American Idol,” Whitney Houston, Celine Dion).
LaTonya toured the country wowing audiences in the inaugural Broadway National Touring productions of “Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Color Purple,” and slayed as “Lorrell” in “Dreamgirls” at The Marriott Lincolnshire Theater in Chicago. She’s appeared on numerous television programs including ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” Her advertising portfolio brims with national print ads and billboards for Coca-Cola and the AAA Four Diamond Pechanga Resort & Casino, as well as national television commercials for Mazda and Northrop Grumman. In the latter, she plays a hero engineer which coincides with LaTonya’s role model image not only of glamour but also intelligence and success.
Ever-busy with fresh exciting ventures, LaTonya was recently cast in two roles for a controversial new video game, “Mafia 3,” which tells the racially intense history of speakeasy life in New Orleans. LaTonya plays a no-nonsense Black Panther as well as a more peaceful protestor for change, as directed by J. B. Blanc.
LaTonya is a passionate advocate for AIDS Awareness which earned her a 6-page cover story of the January 2015 issue of A&U: America’s AIDS Magazine. The piece was dedicated to the many friends and colleagues she has lost to the disease and her never-ending fights, prayers and hopes for a cure.
LaTonya Holmes’ drive for excellence comes from her family in Georgia that instilled within her to “never quit.” A cum laude graduate of Chicago’s Roosevelt University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, LaTonya has placed herself in artful situations of substance ever since. In her music, LaTonya expresses deep-seated and sometimes painful emotions with empathy and honesty born of her own life challenges. She triumphed over these struggles with spiritual faith and unyielding fortitude, claiming her dreams as nothing less than destiny. She wants everyone within the sound of her voice and the light of her shine to believe the same. LaTonya’s inspirational mantra is beYOUtiful! “Learn to be comfortable in your own skin,” she explains. “That’s when everything happens. In your beauty, be YOU!” More of such wisdom and truth will be found in her forthcoming songs.
“Some days I come home so exhausted,” LaTonya confesses, “but my mind fuels the fire in me. Sometimes I don’t sleep – I have so many ideas racing thru my head. And when things are slow, I work on reinventing myself and learning new things. I take great pride in doing what I love and inspiring others in the process. I wouldn’t be happy any other way.”
A. Scott Galloway