Toni Childs
Born (1957-10-29) October 29, 1957 (age 66)
Orange, California, U.S.
GenresRock, pop, world music
Occupation(s)Musician, singer, songwriter
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar
Years active1979–present
LabelsA&M, DGC, 429 Records

Toni Childs (born October 29, 1957) is an American-born, Australian singer-songwriter.[1]

Early life

Childs was born in Orange, California, and lived in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Nevada during her childhood. Raised in a household dominated by her parents' religious values, Childs stated in a 1988 article for Time magazine that she and her three brothers "were not allowed to listen to pop music or rock or even go to the movies. There was a lot I missed out on."[2] At the age of 15, Childs ran away from home and became a blues musician. In 1972, she saw Pink Floyd in concert and decided to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter.[3]


1979–1987: Early years

In 1979, Childs performed several live shows with the band Berlin whilst their singer, Terri Nunn, was unavailable. Her first band of note, Toni and the Movers, included Jack Sherman (later to become a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Micki Steele (later a member of the Bangles). The Los Angeles-based band performed and toured for two years but did not release an album. In the summer of 1981, after The Movers had disbanded, Childs performed various improvised sets of music at Madame Wong's West and the Madam Wong's clubs in Los Angeles under the name Nadia Kapiche with musicians including Steve Schiff (guitar), Micki Steele (bass), Mark Buchholtz (keyboards/sax), Richard Larsen (keyboards/sax), and drummer Stan Getts. Demo (recording) sessions were also done in Hollywood with most of this band, with Ed Warnecke on drums. Childs was still searching for her niche. She has said, "I didn't know who I was, and I realized I was trying to grab the brass ring like everybody else. I wanted to become a better songwriter and I knew I just didn't know enough to be signed. That's when I went to Island Music publishing, and asked them to sign me and send me to England."[3]

In 1981, she signed a song publishing deal with Island Music which financed her move to London. There she lived in an empty office of a local recording studio, sweeping floors and dusting consoles in exchange for rent and recording experience. While in London, Childs played with various musicians in various band configurations: David Rhodes (who had worked with Peter Gabriel), Mike Cotzi (Shriekback), Martin Swaine (The Waterboys, World Party), Steve Creese (World Party), and Duncan Kilburn (The Psychedelic Furs).[4] During her stay in the vitally global music scene of early-80s London, the seeds of world music were planted,[3] later to be heard on Childs's first album. In 1983, Childs provided backing vocals on Scottish band the Europeans' track "A.E.I.O.U". Band member Steve Hogarth later returned the favor by doing the same on Childs's debut album Union.[5]

In 1985, after returning to Los Angeles, Childs was signed to A&M Records and soon began to work with songwriter/producer/musician David Ricketts (of David + David) on the soundtrack for the film Echo Park, also providing backing vocals for David + David's album Boomtown, including on the minor hit single, "Ain't So Easy".

1989–1990: Union

In 1988, Childs's debut album Union was released. Recorded in London, Paris and Swaziland, the album was an infusion of rock/pop and world music with its strong African percussion.[citation needed] The album garnered considerable critical acclaim, and though it peaked at #63 in the U.S., it was certified gold in 1995 by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) for having shipped 500,000 units (the album had shipped 180,000 copies between 1991 and 2006, 1991 being when SoundScan began tracking sales).[6] It also enjoyed two weeks at #1 in New Zealand and was certified platinum there. In Australia, the album was certified double platinum,[7] for shipments exceeding 140,000 copies. Later that year, Childs was nominated for two Grammy Awards – Best New Artist and Best Rock Vocal Performance (female). Her first national tour was opening for Bob Dylan. The single "Stop Your Fussin'" was a major single hit in various countries, including South Africa where it was named the seventh-biggest-selling single of 1989.[citation needed]

As with all of her albums, Childs wrote or co-wrote all the tracks for Union. She embarked on a relationship with her Union collaborator David Ricketts, living and working together, and the songs on Union have much to do with their relationship. In a 1988 article that praised Childs's originality and the craftsmanship of Union, Time magazine said, "if she can get an album like Union from a single relationship, the music she makes from the rest of her life should really be extraordinary". Music videos were produced for the songs "Don't Walk Away", "Stop Your Fussin'", and "Walk And Talk Like Angels". These were made available on the VHS "Toni Childs: The Videos". The song "Dreamer" was included in the soundtrack to the film "Moonlight and Valentino" soundtrack.

In 1989, Childs recorded a cover version of Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" as part of the soundtrack for the film Lost Angels. In 1990, Childs recorded vocals for the song "I've Not Forgotten You" for the Jonathan Elias album Requiem for the America: Songs from the Lost World.

1991–1993: House of Hope

Child’s second album House of Hope yielded huge success in Australia and New Zealand with "I've Got to Go Now". According to Soundscan, House of Hope had sold 203,000 units in the U.S. since its release in 1991 up to 2006.[6] The title track was featured on the "Thelma & Louise" soundtrack, and instrumental excerpts from "Heaven's Gate" have been used in American television shows. The album covered some rather dark ground—such as domestic abuse in "I've Got to Go Now", world troubles in "House of Hope", incest and sexual abuse in the harrowing "Daddy's Song", addiction in "Where's the Light" and "Put This Fire Out", and death in "Heaven's Gate", "Dead Are Dancing", and "Three Days".[citation needed] Of the album, Childs stated she believed that "when we have the courage to share our darkest parts and our purest nature with each other we are evolution in action. We are creating our own 'House of Hope'".[8] Like its predecessor, it achieved platinum status in New Zealand,[citation needed] and was certified double platinum in Australia.[9] Music videos were produced for the songs "I've Got To Go Now" and "Heaven's Gate".

1994–1997: The Woman's Boat and The Very Best of

Following her departure from A&M, Childs was signed by Geffen Records. She then released her third album, The Woman's Boat, in 1994. The album's emphasis on femininity and womanhood was framed by the opening track "Womb" and the closing track "Death". Cameos on the album from Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp, and Zap Mama echoed the world beat of her earlier albums. The Woman's Boat featured more programming and computer-based textures than the previous two albums, notably "Welcome to the World" and the single "Lay Down Your Pain", and it contains some darker tracks such as "Predator" and "I Just Want Affection", mixed with mellow highlights "Long Time Coming" and "I Met a Man" (featuring Peter Gabriel). While the album did not elicit a lot of reviewer response, Q magazine described it as "epic" in its scope. Although she was nominated for another Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Performance, the album sold poorly because Gary Gersh her original A&R man left Geffen to become head of Capitol Records and hire her then manager Perry Watts-Russell to head Capitol's A&R, and Childs was again left without a record label. According to Soundscan, The Woman's Boat has sold 66,000 units in the U.S. since its release in 1994 up until 2006.[6] A music video was produced for the song "Welcome To The World".

In 1995, Childs was featured on the soundtrack to the film Boys on the Side singing a cover of Al Green's "Take Me to the River", although the song was not included on the soundtrack album and has never been commercially released.

In 1996, The Very Best of Toni Childs was released, becoming the fifth-biggest-selling album of 1996 in Australia[10] on the back of the re-release of her cover of Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross", which she recorded in 1989. The "Best of" collection also became her third top-10 album in New Zealand, and was certified six times platinum in Australia.[10] Her version of Many Rivers to Cross was featured prominently in television advertisements for the National Australia Bank at the time.[11]

She retired from touring in 1997 after developing Graves' disease and starting the "Dream a Dolphin" charity.

2003–present: "Because You're Beautiful" and Keep the Faith

Eve Ensler, the founder of V-Day, met Childs in early 2003 when Childs was performing in a production of Ensler's The Vagina Monologues in Kauai, Hawaii. Ensler was already a fan of Childs's music, which she claims had a profound impact on her and had been a lifeline.[12] Ensler asked Childs to write an anthem for her documentary V-Day: Until the Violence Stops. Childs wrote and released a song entitled "Because You're Beautiful", which was awarded the 2004 Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.

Childs resided in Hawaii where she made a recovery from Graves' disease and slowly re-entered into performing live and recording. At a surprise appearance in October 2006, Childs took the stage at Darcy's Pub in Victoria, British Columbia, at an "open mic" night.

She has recorded an album entitled Keep the Faith, which has seen her once again team with David Ricketts who collaborated with her on her debut album 20 years earlier. The album drew heavily from material Childs wrote in the mid–1990s and she has stated that Keep the Faith is "an apt title given personal and world events".[12] It consists of eleven new songs and the track "Because You're Beautiful". Originally available direct from the artist, Keep the Faith is distributed on general release in the United States by 429 Records (part of the Savoy group of record companies) as of January 2009. It is also available in New Zealand, distributed by MGM Distribution Pty Ltd. The album was released in Australia in August 2008, featuring first single "One Life". Childs performed a concert tour of the country in September 2008 and again there (with Jackson Browne) in February/March 2009.

Personal life

In 2013, she contributed a foreword to 101 Vagina, a crowd-funded book published in Melbourne and designed to break down taboos surrounding the female body.[13]

Childs became an Australian citizen in March 2022.[1]



Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
  • Released: 1988
  • Label: A&M Records
8 19 1 40 27 73 63
House of Hope
  • Released: 1991
  • Label: A&M Records
4 31 8 5 31 115
The Woman's Boat
  • Released: 1994
  • Label: DGC Records/ Geffen
24 32
Keep the Faith
  • Released: August 2008
  • Label: 429 Records / SLG
Citizens of the Planet
  • Released: 2014
  • Label: Big Mother Records
It's All a Beautiful Noise
  • Released: 2015
  • Label: Big Mother Records
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albums

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
The Very Best of Toni Childs 1 8
Toni Childs: Ultimate Collection
  • Released: 2000
  • Label: Hip-O Records
The Vault
  • Released: 2018
  • Label: Big Mother Entertainment


Year Title Chart positions Certifications Album
US Mod

1988 "Stop Your Fussin'" 17 30 17 45 5 95 Union
"Don't Walk Away" 17 40 55 12 53 72 17
"Walk and Talk Like Angels" 70
1989 "Zimbabwae" 74 7 31
"Many Rivers to Cross" 99 29 Lost Angels soundtrack
1991 "I've Got to Go Now" 5 78 19 House of Hope
"House of Hope" 39 27
1992 "I Want to Walk with You" 110
"Heaven's Gate"
1994 "Lay Down Your Pain" 193 92 13 The Woman's Boat
1995 "Fell from a Great Height" (Stephen Cummings + Toni Childs) 147 Falling Swinger (Stephen Cummings album)
1996 "Many Rivers to Cross" (re-issue) 12 The Very Best of Toni Childs
2004 "Because You're Beautiful" non-album release
2008 "One Life" Keep the Faith
2009 "Because You're Beautiful" (re-issue)
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


  1. ^ a b Bond, Nick (19 March 2022). "Top-selling US singer becomes Australian citizen". Retrieved 3 October 2023.
  2. ^ Cocks, Jay. "Catching The Sweet, Scary Feelings". Time. 6 June 1988.
  3. ^ a b c Toni Childs: A Biography Archived 2013-07-31 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Nadia Kapiche Archived 2008-07-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ ""Europeans & How We Live illustrated lyrics & song index". Archived from the original on 23 July 2012."[dead link]
  6. ^ a b c "Union Fire". Ask Billboard. 9 May 2006
  7. ^ "1989 ARIA Albums Chart". ARIA. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  8. ^ "House of Hope Archived 2008-09-20 at the Wayback Machine".
  9. ^ a b c d Australian (ARIA) peaks:
  10. ^ a b c "1996 ARIA Albums Chart". ARIA. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  11. ^ 15: National Australia Bank: Never Lose Sight of the Bigger Picture, George Patterson Y&R, 1997
  12. ^ a b Toni Childs.
  13. ^ Robson, Suzanne (18 March 2013). "Private parts go public for a cause in coffee table book". Herald Sun. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  14. ^ "Toni Childs ARIA chart history 1988 to 2022, received from ARIA in 2022". ARIA. Retrieved 2 December 2023 – via N.B. The High Point number in the NAT column represents the release's peak on the national chart.
  15. ^ a b " > Toni Childs in der Österreichischen Hitparade" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  16. ^ a b German chart peaks:
  17. ^ " > Toni Childs in Norwegian Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  18. ^ a b c " > Toni Childs in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  19. ^ " > Toni Childs in Swedish Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  20. ^ " > Suche nach: Toni Childs (Alben)" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Official Charts > Toni Childs". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  22. ^ "Billboard > Toni Childs Chart History > Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  23. ^ "1989 ARIA Albums Chart". ARIA. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  24. ^ "Official Top 40 Albums". Recorded Music NZ. 16 April 1989. Retrieved 6 December 2022.
  25. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1991 Albums" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  26. ^ "Official Top 40 Albums". Recorded Music NZ. 22 December 1991. Retrieved 6 December 2022.
  27. ^ "Official Top 40 Albums". Recorded Music NZ. 27 October 1996. Retrieved 6 December 2022.
  28. ^ " > Toni Childs in Dutch Charts" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  29. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 104. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  30. ^ "Billboard > Toni Childs Chart History > Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  31. ^ "Billboard > Toni Childs Chart History > Alternative Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  32. ^ "Billboard > Toni Childs Chart History > Dance Club Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  33. ^ "1991 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved 23 January 2020.