10 Questions with ... Deborah Cox
February 3, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
1) Where did it all start for you?
It all started in Toronto, Canada. I grew up in Toronto listening to all styles of music that I love to sing, like Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. Listening to Dance music, soul music, reggae and just a plethora of different styles ... that's what's shaped me to be the artist who I am today. I started out doing some commercials and jingles, but you'd only know them if you're a Canuck. I got all of my studio experience from doing various commercial jungles and sort of learning how to sing on a mic, learning about mic control, and those experiences helped me figure out how to sing, making records, which is slightly different.
2) You started making records in the '90s?
Yeah, late '90s. I've always been writing and it was through writing and sending out demos while doing background vocals on tours with Celine Dion and different artists, that I made the connection with Clive Davis who signed me to Arista Records, and then my recording career began.
3) In 1998, speaking of careers, 'Nobody's Supposed To Be Here' comes out, and goes to #1 for 14 weeks on the Billboard R&B Soul charts! What was that feeling like?
That feeling was amazing. Fourteen weeks because it was a ground-breaking song. There was nothing like it on the radio in the sense that it was this big vocal, gospel-like sound that was soulful. Everyone resonated and connected with the song. So that was what was really surprising, in a really deep hip-hop time. Jay-Z was doing his thing, as was Lauryn Hill, so it was a really interesting landmark for me. I am very, very proud of that song and that record and all of the support that I have gotten, So THANK YOU all!
4) You go from having a 14-week #1 R&B song to a being one of the most successful artists in the Dance genre, having had 12 #1 Billboard Dance Club Play songs. How did you make that transition? Or was there a transition?
It's not about a transition; it's about being open and being flexible ... being able to do it all. When people ask me about the Dance music, the Soul record, the Jazz records, I say, "Why not! If I can sing it, I'll do it!" It's all happened organically. There was never anything that was calculated. It was all purely from a place of whether or not people liked the record. People loved the R&B version of the song. Then when the remix came out, that just extended the life of the song. It just expanded the audience that I already had. It brought in new fans and people who loved Dance music. I just revel in the fact that I can reach many, many different people using many different genres of music, while using many different platforms to do it.
5) Is there a favorite song that you like to perform when you're out at the clubs?
That's a hard one! How do I answer that? That's like asking me what child I love the most!
6) Is there a favorite song when you're in the shower in the morning that you like to sing?
Ooh child, I don't like singing in he morning, let's start there! You will not hear me singing full-out first thing in the morning! But you will hear me at the clubs. Anyone who really knows me, knows that I will shut a club down because I love the beat! I love to hear the bass! I love to feel that. So I love dancing. For me it's just about the energy in the songs that makes it great to sing in the clubs. "Things Just Ain't The Same" is just one of those [songs] that's like a warm blanket. When it comes on, you could just see everyone's eyes light up. I remember where I was when it came out. When I think about "Who Do You Love?" I think about us in the studio ... Hosh, David Morales like all of us Old School heads wgo love Four on the Floor. I just think of all those moments, just traveling all over and performing them.
7) Is there a favorite remix of a song of yours that stands out to you?
"Nobody's Supposed To Be Here" is that one triumphant song that again just erupts in the room! When that record comes on, the people stop and have a moment. They have a moment when they hear that! I get so emotional when I think about it because everyone has their own story with that song.
8) Speaking of so emotional, you where just on TV for the biopic of [the late] Whitney Houston, who you sang all the songs for. Tell us about that...
That was an interesting chain of events. Angela Bassett, who is a dear friend of mine, called and said she was going to be making her directorial debut, and that Dick Rudolph, Mya Rudolph's father who is also legendary for the songs that he's written with Minnie Riperton, songs like, "Loving You" [DC starts to sing] So I heard Dick Rudolph was going to be involved with this thing. Angela calls me to say that she we needed these songs for the film, can I do it? I'm like, "Yes! When? Where? Let me know where to go!" So I fly to LA, literally get off the plane and go straight to the studio and start recording, the "Greatest Love Of All." These were songs that were already predetermined and picked for the movie, and we had two days to do it. It was a huge undertaking and we were very, very ambitious in our approach. However, I knew that Whitney would be in my ear saying you need to make this thing happen, or I mean, she would want me to represent! So I put my best foot forward and I sang! Sang, sang and sang! I'm just happy that people feel that I conjured up the essence of her.
9) Was there a particular song of hers that was harder to do from a vocal standpoint or an emotional standpoint?
Definitely. "I Will Always Love You" was the most challenging because everyone has their idea of the way that song is supposed to go. They are married to that version in 'The Bodyguard' [movie] -- as I am as well. So when we were in the studio, Angela told me about the scene, what she'd be doing in the scene and onstage. She was referring to Bobby who was offstage. She told me beforehand. So I had to make sure the performance reflected that scene in the film. So it was a bit of a challenge not seeing anything before.
10) You have a new song out, "Kinda Miss You." Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Very excited! It's a really soulful, danceable joint that I think you will all love! And I hope you all love it. It's kinda where I am right now, which is, I've always been a positive, motivated person, and I feel this song reflects that. It's a song produced by The Rascals, who did a great, great job conjuring up the spirit and what I wanted to reflect. It's a love song, but it's not a sad love song. I have some of those coming out on the album as well. This one we're starting out in a loving, fun way. It's coming out February 3rd.
Is there an album coming out as well?
Yes! I'm almost done. There will be a full body of work that will follow-up as well. For now, we are focused on this single. Everybody has been asking for new music, for new remixes and I'm like, "Okay, y'all, this is a good combination of the two. You be the judge!"
Do you remember where you were when you first heard your song on the radio. Do you remember what you did to celebrate when you got to # 1?
I was in a hotel in L.A., and Clive actually called and said, 'You're #1, 14 weeks on the charts! I remember dropping the phone and just screaming! We were in it thick, you know, we were touring and doing so many radio shows and stuff. I was just in it. So I didn't really get a chance to step away for me to celebrate it. It was nice to be in that quiet hotel room and just take the moment to take it all in.
Do you have a favorite city, country or club you like to perform in?
Oh my, Australia, Mardi Gras, New York Palladium, 7 in the morning, I had no idea that people would still be in the club. You know, things like that! Ooh child, they read me when they saw the outfit I came out in. You know I was just getting it together.
You've worked with an incredible array of people in your career, Is there any one you haven't worked with that you want to?
Wow! There's so many ... Bruno Mars I love ... John Legend. Would love to do something with Nile Rodgers, Pharrell! I have a lot of favorites I like to call "Cool School," not Ol' School. These are the veterans who know music! Like Nile Rodgers, Sting!