All of us have comfort zones. Yes, people are most definitely creatures of habit. Of course at times we seem to be daring, and seek out new experiences and ideas. However, most of the time we choose interests that are familiar to us. I don’t think I differ from the majority of people, especially when the subject is our musical choices. As a blogger, I listen to a variety of musical styles and genres, but I’m more than happy when the featured artist is one to whom I listen often.
I’m certain musical artists have a particular comfort zone, in spite of the variety of projects completed throughout their careers. All of this came to mind at the beginning of this week, as I turned my focus toward the post you are reading now. Of course I must clearly state that I enjoy each and every feature of Weekly Music Commentary. Nevertheless I, like most of you reading, have personal favorites. This week I am happy to feature one of my very favorite singers, the sensational Deborah Cox.
Deborah Cox was born in Toronto July 13, 1974, and grew up in Scarborough, Toronto. She began singing on TV commercials at age 12, and entered various talent shows. She performed in nightclubs as a teenager, and began to write music around the same time. Cox entered the music industry in the early 1990s, performing as a backup vocalist for Celine Dion for six months. After receiving many rejection letters from Canadian record labels, Cox moved to Los Angeles in 1994 with producer and songwriting partner, (and now husband) Lascelles Stephens.
In 1995, label executive Clive Davis saw the potential that Canadian labels did not, and signed Cox to Arista Records. She released her self-titled début album the same year. After middling success, Cox released a non-album single for the soundtrack to the 1997 movie Money Talks, titled “Things Just Ain’t The Same”. A dance mix of the song with a remix by Hex Hector topped the U.S. dance charts and was included on her second album, 1998’s One Wish. The first single from that album, “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here”, spent fourteen weeks at #1 on the Hot R&B charts in the USA, as well as eight consecutive weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album went platinum, becoming Cox’s biggest-selling album to date. It was clear that Deborah Cox belonged in the music industry, and would go on to larger musical accomplishments.
With the release of One Wish, Cox achieved major crossover commercial and charting success, producing hits on the Pop, R&B and Dance Charts. She seemed comfortable moving back and forth between the different musical styles, and her audience grew to appreciate her multi-directional musical efforts. In 2000, Whitney Houston invited her to sing a duet for Houston’s greatest hits compilation, Whitney: The Greatest Hits. The song – “Same Script, Different Cast” – was met with positive critical acclaim. After riding the wave of the successful album One Wish, Deborah Cox would not release a follow-up album until November 5, 2002. The album was titled The Morning After. The album has a blend of urban R&B and adult contemporary songs with more dance/house tracks being included. By this stage, Deborah Cox was also considered a leading dance music diva, achieving six #1s on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart.
At the height of her recording success came another milestone. A possible move out of a comfort zone. On February 17, 2004, Deborah Cox made her Broadway début in the Elton John-Tim Rice musical “Aida”. Even though to most of us the leap from recording artist to Broadway performer might seem difficult, Deborah has the unique talent as actress and vocalist to easily adapt. After several recording projects Deborah would return to the stage. On September 7, 2012 Cox gave her inaugural performance as Lucy the female lead in a revival of the musical “Jekyll & Hyde” starring Constantine Maroulis: after premiering in La Mirada CA this production toured North American for twenty-five weeks playing at twenty locales, then began previews for its Broadway run April 5, 2013 officially opening its planned limited engagement Broadway run of thirteen weeks on April 18, 2013. She is scheduled to portray the legendary Josephine Baker in the play “Josephine” at Asolo Repertory Theater beginning April 2016.
Deborah Cox has remained busy with other recent projects. Actress Angela Bassett directed the biographical film based on the late American recording artist Whitney Houston entitled “Whitney!” The film premiered on Lifetime network in North America on January 17, 2015. Deborah Cox performs all of Houston’s vocals in the film, including “I Will Always Love You”, “I’m Your Baby Tonight”, “I’m Every Woman”, “Jesus Loves Me” and “The Greatest Love of All”. It’s hard to find a better vocalist to give the task of taking on Whitney Houston’s fantastic work. If there is someone better suited than Cox, I would love to hear it. On February 3, 2015 Deborah Cox released a mid-tempo song “Kinda Miss You”. It was followed by the ballad “More Than I Knew” which was released on April 14, 2015. Both are set to appear on her upcoming album Work of Art, which will be her sixth studio album.
Deborah Cox continues to prove that she is one of the première female vocalists of our day; regardless the stage or the recording booth. She continues to own a comfort level performing on Broadway, recording ballads, and singing dance music. Does she have a favorite? That’s a good question, one that only Deborah Cox could answer. One thing is true: Deborah Cox has a fantastic voice and is a great performer on any stage, singing any style of music. At this point in her career she is right where she belongs.