Joy of Forgiveness
Since she can remember, Tonya has been surrounded by music! Once of her earliest memories is of singing “Now I Can Journey On” in the church choir in a trio with her parents. Growing up in the Baptist church in Dayton, Ohio, her musical influences are almost innumerable. “Music has always been a part of me and a huge part of my family life. At my house growing up, the radio came on before the television did, so I listened to everyone you can think of.” Music has been the backdrop of her life. As a child, she thought that everybody could sing since all the people in her house could.
Singing since the age of 11, Tonya knows that it is God who has brought her to this place in her life and given her an assignment: to minister His word to the world through song. “More than just another singer, God wants someone whose life will be a testimony of His goodness and grace toward His people. I believe people are looking for a life (that exemplifies Christ and His character) more than just another good song. That is what empowers me to not only sing for Him and His glory, but to live for Him as well.” Tonya recognizes that it will take the anointing of God to truly minister to people and change their hearts and minds. She longs to draw people closer to God through her singing and songwriting and let them know that God is truly a personal God, that He is concerned about their lives and everyday affairs.
Tonya has been a guest soloist on recording projects for Leon Wilkinson and Friends (1992), The Littlejohn Brothers Workshop Choirs (1986 – 1992), a member of Keith Leak and DWC (1987 – 1992), and has served as a member of praise teams and choirs at her church ministry for over 12 years. However, since launching out into full-time ministry, God has truly opened up doors for Tonya in ways that have amazed her. She kicked off the year 2003 with her appearance at the Gospel Music Workshop of America's Annual Businessmeeting in Dayton, Ohio .She then hosted a packed house as the community helped her celebrate the release of her debut CD “Life In Him” at the Release Celebration Concert. “What a thrill it was to have the support of the people in my hometown and have them celebrate with me. We had a blast!”
Tonya has participated in (and won) showcases throughout the country. The Music Group Associates (TMGA) hosted their annual National Gospel Showcase in April 2003 in which Tonya participated and won the Regional event at Fisk University in Tennessee . She went on to participate in the I Hear Music In the Air Conference and Showcase (hosted by GospoCentric Records' Tracey Artis) where she won first place. As a result, Tonya was afforded the opportunity to be a part of the Gospel Superfest 2003 in Atlanta, Georgia. She paid a visit to the West Coast for the South California Gospel Announcer Guild Annual event as a showcase participant. The summer continued on as Tonya appeared at the Youth Explosion and as a Guest Soloist for the Daughters of Promise for the Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship of Churches. She also sang the National Anthem at the FGBFC Celebrity Basketball game. The excitement kept rolling in 2003 as Tonya appeared at the New/Unsigned Artist Showcase during the Tehillah Music Group's First Gospel Music Summit in Orlando, Florida. To bring a close to a momentous year, she was honored with the privilege of touring as a background vocalist for the Evolution II Tour! The tour featured Byron Cage, Tonex, Percy Bady, Virtue, Lisa McClendon, Debra Killings, Corey Red & Precise and Kelcey. She then found out that the song she had written “To Know You Lord”was selected to appear on the Gospel Heritage Foundation / Verity Recordsrelease and on Gospel phenomenon Tonex's latest release “Out The Box”!
2004 was also quite a year for Tonya as she traveled across the country appearing at numerous churches and industry events: GMWA Board Meeting in Las Vegas, as a co-host for the 2004 I Hear Music In the Air Conference with Dr. Bobby Jones. Mrs. Baker graced the stage at the Schuster Performing Arts Center as she opened for the legendary Hezekiah Walker & The Love Fellowship Crusade Choir and was blessed by the invitation to open for gospel great Karen Clark-Sheard and Kierra Sheard.
She was honored to be back on the West Coast at the West Coast Gospel Announcers Guild Annual event in Seattle/Tacoma Washington, and on the East Coast with the Virginia Gospel Announcers Guild. Tonya also appeared (along with gospel artists The Choir Boys, Desmond Pringle, Chuck and Lolita, Keith Leak) at the Gospel Superfest V held in Brooklyn, New York at the Christian Cultural Center (Dr. A. R. Bernard) for a special tribute to Mom and Pop Winans !
The summer of 2004 was special because she was able to host – along with her publicist, Judy Brown and Soul's Mission – the First Praise Fest event in her home town. “Dayton has such a tremendous number of gifted and talented artists in the area of Gospel music. It has been my desire to always be a blessing to other artists and musicians so that we can all continue on in the work of the Lord together. I believe God would have us do that. So we hosted a community-wide event. It was a gospel concert featuring our local artists but we brought in national artists such as Earl Bynum and As We Are (Light Records-Virginia), Rebecca Eaglin (Independent-Texas) and Elder Johnny Harris and Provision Ministries (Independent- New York ). Our event was hosted byBishop Sam Williams of the National Gospel Announcers Guild. It was a day full of fun, food and fellowship for the Dayton community and it was well received.”
Tonya is working with new producers on her upcoming project and she is mindful that it's only been by God's grace and favor that she has been able to do all that she has done. “I truly give God the glory for everything. It's far more than I have imagined. I have met some wonderful and sincere people over these last couple of years and I've been enriched by them. God is truly doing some great things in my life and in the life of my family. I just want to be true to Him and to what He's called me to. As long as God is with me, I'll do whatever it is He wants me to do.” Tonya will continue to serve in ministry whether it is in the church, hosting an event, being the MC of a concert, or ministering in song, she's looking forward to what God has in store.