With a career that spans over 30 successful years, Deborah Cox is undoubtedly one of the most powerful contemporary voices in Canadian music.
Born in Toronto, Cox grew up in a musical household where she expressed an early interest in singing and songwriting. Inspired by her idol Whitney Houston, she began performing professionally in television commercials at the age of 12. After dedicating her teenage years to refining her talents and proving herself as an entertainer, Cox was hired as a professional backup vocalist for Céline Dion.
In 1994, she was signed to Arista Records by Clive Davis, releasing her self-titled debut album the following year. An infectious mix of pop and R&B, Deborah Cox was a commercial and critical success yielding the quintessential dance hits “Sentimental” and “Who Do U Love.” The certified platinum record earned Cox her first-ever JUNO Award nomination and win in 1996 for Best R&B/Soul Recording. Little did she know, this was just the beginning of the success that was yet to come.
Her sophomore album, One Wish, released in 1998 took Cox’s career to the next level, skyrocketing her to stardom. One Wish featured a number of hit singles including “We Can’t Be Friends,” but its most notable track was the irresistible slow jam, “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here.” The soulful ballad became an instant sensation and held the then-record for the longest running No. 1 R&B single of all time.
The album sold over a million copies and was hailed by fans and music critics alike. Billboard praised the lead single declaring: “Cox previews her second album with a stirring old-school soul ballad that’s perhaps the best vocal showcase she’s ever had…In all, this is a fine single hinting that Cox is about to pay off on all of the promise and hype generated by her first album two years ago.”
Celebrating 14 consecutive weeks at the top of the charts, Cox received comparisons to Whitney Houston as well as a number of impressive accolades such as a Billboard Music Award nomination for R&B Single of the Year, a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Award nomination, a Soul Train Award, a Lady of Soul Award, and 3 JUNO Awards.
The year 2000 marked a full circle moment when Houston invited Cox to collaborate on the song “Same Script, Different Cast” for her upcoming album Whitney: The Greatest Hits. The duet was a match made in heaven, showcasing the stars’ natural musical chemistry.
Cox lent her talents to several other collaborations throughout her career including a tour with fellow Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee, David Foster in 2009. She also contributed her work to several films such as Hotel Rwanda, Akeelah and The Bee, A Good Man is Hard to Find, as well as a new song titled “This Gift” for the movie Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns.
Never one to be pigeonholed, Cox’s fourth studio album Destination Moon, was a deliberate departure from the singer’s signature R&B style. Accompanied by an impressive 40-piece orchestra, the jazz tribute combined her increasingly sophisticated sound with Dinah Washington’s classic work. Destination Moon peaked at Number 3 on Billboard’s Jazz Albums chart and earned Cox a Grammy Award nomination for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.
Her much-anticipated return to R&B, The Promise was released in 2008 through Deco Recording Group, a label created by her and her husband, producer Lascelles Stephens. The album delivered a set of sultry yet heartfelt tracks highlighting the emotional vibrancy of Cox’s voice.
By the mid 2000s, Cox had continued to prove her versatility as an artist by starring in a number of acting roles. Her 2004 Broadway debut in the title role of Aida received rave reviews, prompting more acting opportunities such as the role Lucy Harris in the revival of the original Broadway production Jekyll & Hyde. In 2015, to no one’s surprise, the Toronto native was cast as the star of the musical rendition of Houston’s classic film, The Bodyguard.
A true vocalist, storyteller, and entertainer, Deborah Cox continues to thrive as she pursues new musical, acting, and charitable endeavors.
Deborah Cox’s self-titled debut album is released featuring the hit songs “Sentimental” and “Who Do U Love”
Cox receives her first JUNO Award nomination and win for Best R&B/Soul Recording
Cox’s critically-acclaimed sophmore album, One Wish, is released
Cox’s hit song “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” breaks the record for longest running No. 1 R&B single on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart
Whitney Houston invites Cox to collaborate on the song “Same Script, Different Cast” for her upcoming album
Cox makes her broadway debut in the title role in Elton John and Time Rice’s musical Aida
Cox’s jazz tribute album Destination Moon receives a Grammy nomination for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical
Cox creates the record label Deco Recording Group with husband and producer, Lascelles Stephens
Cox makes history as the first Black woman to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall