She’s been around for over ten years and has gone from the recording studio to Broadway. In addition to singing on wax and on stage, she’s also graced the film industry. Her hit song “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here” was released ten years ago and yet she’s still here with her recently dropped album, The Promise. In today’s industry that’s hard to come by. Deborah Cox, boasting nine number one hits on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, is a star that’s still shining even while staying away from the limelight. Clutch had a chance to catch up with Deborah and discuss motherhood, her new album, and her experience with Broadway and film.
Clutch: Your new album, The Promise is already in stores. What can we expect from that album?
Deborah Cox: This album is the same classic soulful sound. The material is songs that I have put together over the past three years. I hooked up with producers who happen to be close friends. John Legend wrote the title track. It takes you on a journey about the complexity of love. I think a lot of people can find themselves and their stories in the songs. The purpose of the album is at the end of it all; at the end of a relationship you have to look out for yourself.
Clutch: Your latest single “Beautiful U R” is very inspirational, especially for women. What inspired you to record a song like that?
Deborah Cox: I was at a low point creatively. I felt like we had enough relationship songs. There were a lot of ballads so I wanted to make sure that there weren’t too many ballads on the album. It wasn’t intended to be a message song. It was just intended to be expressive. It’s something like a musical mantra that I would sing to myself but, ultimately I think people got something really positive from it.
Clutch: Did you actually write it?
Deborah Cox: No, I collaborated with Big Jim, Avila Brothers, and Sam Saulter. It was all of us in the room together.
Clutch: In the video for “Beautiful U R” you reveal that you’re pregnant. This is your third child. How has motherhood impacted your career?
Deborah Cox: It’s impacted my career in a way in which I have a different perspective that allows me to have more balance. I really don’t dwell on the negative as much because it’s a distraction from the kids. They all keep it in perspective for me. If something doesn’t work out on the business end there’s always something really positive or joyful that my kids will do that will take my mind completely off of the business. Before it was all about what was happening with my career and keeping it moving.
Clutch: A lot of people may not know that you’re Canadian. Can you give us some insight on the Canadian music market versus the American music market?
Deborah Cox: For me the Canadian music scene was predominantly Rock and Pop music. In the 80’s my only sense of hearing any kind of urban music was through a station out of Buffalo (NY) or hearing what my parents played. In Canada, urban music just isn’t that big. It’s still growing. Now things are totally different. We didn’t have the Internet back then and I just totally depended on the radio or what my parents played at home.
Clutch: In addition to singing you’ve also done some acting. What made you want to start acting?
Deborah Cox: I’ve always been an actor. I’ve done a lot of stuff in Canada before I was signed. I did a lot of small productions and theater in school. That sparked my interest in acting. When I had the opportunity to do the films that I did I jumped at the opportunity because acting is just as fulfilling as singing even though it’s a muscle that I don’t use all the time. It’s a great outlet emotionally. It’s a lot of fun to be another character for a while.
Clutch: Can we expect to see you in film again anytime soon?
Deborah Cox: Probably not until next year because I’m going to tour in the spring. Once I’m able to put things in full gear again then I’ll look at some more scripts. I’m always actively seeking and constantly getting scripts to read. A lot of times I really want to get involved in something that I’ll be really passionate about. My main focus is just being able to get out and tour during the New Year.
Clutch: You had a chance to do Broadway and perform in Aida. How was that experience different from performing at concerts or recording in the studio?
Deborah Cox: Doing Aida was much more of a grueling schedule because there were shows every night. My contract was for six shows a week. Normally when you do a musical like that it’s usually eight shows a week. It’s a pretty grueling schedule. Your stamina has to be there. You have to learn how to pace yourself. You can’t give everything every single night and then not have anything for the next night. It’s a certain type of discipline needed to do Broadway. It’s really an eye opening experience. I would absolutely do it again. I had such a great time doing that show.
Clutch: You seem to stay out of the limelight. How do you manage to do so?
Deborah Cox: Well, I live in Florida so it’s not the entertainment Mecca. I moved away from LA to get away from that, same with New York. I’ve always been a very low key person anyway. I know how to separate the celebrity from the normal, especially now with kids. I really like my anonymity. I like to just be mommy and not have to worry about running into any crazy paparazzi. That’s never happened in my case, thank God. The most people do is ask for a picture or autograph and that’s not annoying, that’s fun.
Clutch: Your fourth album, Destination Moon was a tribute to Dinah Washington. What about Dinah made you want to do a tribute to her?
Deborah Cox: I loved the fact that this woman was so diverse. She kind of reminds me of me in a sense. She sang jazz, big band, blues, and gospel. I have the same sort of path. I’m always on the road singing different styles of music. That was what intrigued me about her. Growing up I listened to a lot of her music. My mother played a ton of her songs. I just remember hearing this sassiness and spiciness in her voice. While I was in Aida I thought it would be really cool to do a classic sounding record. After bouncing a lot of ideas around it came down to a Dinah Washington project.
Clutch: Your most famous single, “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” held the record for the longest running number one single on Billboard’s Hot R&B Hip Hop Songs. How did that feel?
Deborah Cox: Oh my gosh, it was such an accomplishment. I was told by so many radio programs that it wouldn’t get played. I’ve been told that it sounds great but, it sounded too much like gospel. There were so many people that weren’t believers at first but, we just kept steadfast and before we knew it was number one. It just sat on the charts. I think there was a message that really resonated with people and ultimately the fans were the ones that kept that one going. That probably was the proudest moment so far.
Clutch: Out of all of your albums which one is the most intimate?
Deborah Cox: This album, because a lot of the songs I wrote. A lot of the topics really reflect things that I wanted to talk about. Like, when John Legend presented The Promise it was right where I was at. It’s a song that was most reflective or where I’m at and where I want to be.
Clutch: What type of album haven’t you made that you’d like to make?
Deborah Cox: I would love to do a Christmas album. Every time the holidays come I’m like “ahhhh.”
Clutch: Besides singing and acting is there anything else that you’d like to explore?
Deborah Cox: There are some things musically and acting wise that I’d like to explore. I’d love to do a romantic comedy and a really good drama. I’d love to do a show that sits either in Vegas or on Broadway.
Clutch: If you’re out on the town or at a red carpet client event what can be found in your clutch?
Deborah Cox: My cell phone, lipstick, and probably a little powder. Probably some gum too.
Clutch: You have to keep the breath fresh, right?
Deborah Cox: Yes (laughs).