She was raised in Huron, Tennessee and her father was Cowboy Louie Mitchell, a cowboy musician that performed at elementary schools.
In 1998, Tonya performed at a regional benefit for St. Jude’s Hospital when Justin Timberlake (yes, the Justin Timberlake of *NSYNC)’s grandfather, Bill Bomar was in the audience and heard her sing. He later introduced himself to Tonya and after telling her that Justin was his grandson, he thought he could help her break into the music business.
Eventually, Tonya signed with Justin’s management company, JustinTime Entertainment and was managed by Justin’s mother, Lynn Harless. She was later signed to Universal Records.
In February of 2001, she released her debut single “Broken Promises” which peaked at #38 on Billboard’s Top 40 Mainstream chart. It also peaked at #36 on Radio & Records’ CHR\Pop Tracks chart and #17 on the ARC Weekly Top 40.
In April of 2001, Tonya released her debut (and only) album “I Represent.” It’s unknown how or if the album charted on the Billboard 200 at all.
During that same year, Tonya became one of the opening acts on *NSYNC’s Pop Odyssey Tour. After the tour was over, she performed at various radio shows throughout the United States and even performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In July of 2001, Tonya’s father passed away and in November of that same year, she was dropped from Universal Records.
In 2002, Tonya married a car salesman named Jason Essary and in early 2003, she was released from her contract with JustinTime Entertainment. In 2004, she gave birth to a daughter named Scarlett. She ended up taking a break from the music business to spend time with her family and work out the issues in her life.
In August of 2005, Tonya signed to a new management company called Brand-On Entertainment. A month later, she started recording a few songs and even a jingle for Monster Energy drink.
By late 2007, Tonya was no longer signed to a management company and in the fall of 2008, she announced that she was no longer pursuing an active singing career. These days, it’s unknown what she’s up to.
To see a fan-made video for “Broken Promises,” go to:
To see a fan-made video for “Bad Girl” (one of the songs Tonya recorded when she was signed to Brand-On Entertainment), go to: