Deborah Cox Talks New Album, Broadway Play and Lessons from Whitney Houston

Deborah Cox Talks New Album, Broadway Play and Lessons from Whitney Houston

Image: Deborah Cox
Image: Deborah Cox

With a stamp of approval from music legend Clive Davis, collaborations with Whitney Houston and five studio albums under her belt, Deborah Cox is known as one of the top Canadian-bred R&B singers and songwriters of our time.

Most recently, she made headline news when she provided the singing for Lifetime’s biopic Whitney, in which she received raving reviews for nailing the vocals. With a seven year music hiatus since her 2008 album The Promise, Cox is now ready to bring her classic voice back to the R&B scene. caught up with the multi-talented artist to get insights on her upcoming summer album, her leading role as Josephine Baker in the new Broadway play and lessons she learned from the iconic Whitney Houston.

[Related: Deborah Cox Returns to Broadway as Josephine Baker] What can fans expect from the new album? Are there any exciting collaborations?

Cox: It’s a project that has been in the works for years now. As I was sort of in between doing other things like performing and doing Broadway shows, I’ve been compiling songs, writing songs and working with other producers to put this album together because it’s been a minute since the last record. The fans will let you know when it’s time for a new record and they have let me know. So, I’m excited. I’ve got The Rascals on there. I’ve got Baby Face and I worked with Danja.

Your last album came out in 2008, and so much has changed in the music business since then. Do you have any concerns about adjusting back into the industry?

Not really because I know and understand the changing times. I think it’s more important that I stay true to who I am as an artist. It’s about adjusting and changing little things here and there, but always knowing the core of who you are as an artist and I think that will always be authentic. Trying to appease people is not the right approach. I think if you just do what you do you will bring new fans on board and you will please the ones that have always been supporters as well.

You’ve been selected to play the iconic Josephine Baker on Broadway. When does this play come out?

It comes out next year in 2016.

What does playing this role mean to you?

Oh man, it’s like a huge responsibility in a lot of ways. I know it’s a provocative role and it’s a very challenging role because it’s a lot of dancing and physical movement. So there’s a lot of training that goes into that. Tap, ballet, and a lot of technique, so there’s a lot of preparation involved. I’m excited and scared all at the same time.

How do you balance acting and singing? Do you sometimes go through seasons where you favor one over the other?

Yes, there are seasons when I favor one over the other. I think the music is obviously something that is the most natural. It’s what I’ve been doing the longest. Even though I’ve acted before and done independent films, it’s still a very staged setting whereas music kind of happens a little more organically. So there are times where I like to just go on stage and do my thing and there are other times where it’s fun to just be on set and pampered depending on what the role is.

Are there any artists you would like to work with that you haven’t worked with yet?

Yes, I think the hardest part of that is trying to come together with another artist that already has a lot going on. It’s like merging big corporations and we have big ideas and to execute it can be pretty huge too. So yes, there are a lot of other artists that I would like to work with. Most recently, I did a collaboration with Tyrese for a short film called Shame and he’s working on a soundtrack for that film. It’s a really exciting project because of the sound of music.

Earlier in the year, everyone was talking about your vocals over the Whitney biopic. As someone who has worked with her in the past and knew her personally, what did it mean for you to be involved in that project?

Yes, we were label mates. She was a friend and mentor and she really was this iconic person that inspired me to be in this business. So to be able to pay honor to her and homage to her in that film was great for me on a personal level because it gave me the opportunity to just say thank you to what she brought to music. We miss her greatly and it’s sad how the whole situation ended, but I feel like in some ways she gave me a lot of great advice on the pitfalls of the business. We used to have our real heart to heart moments and talk about having a good support system, maintaining some kind of balance in it all and perspective. So I’m happy for those moments.

Speaking of balance, I know you’re a wife and mom of three. How do you find the balance between career and family?

I just do it and I find myself putting my blinders on and staying focused. But there are times where it’s like “Wow, I can’t believe all of that got done.” So it’s about having a great, effective support system who can help to pick up the pieces when you let the ball drop sometimes.

Be sure to check out Cox’s newly released single More Than I Knew on iTunes today and pick up her album Work of Art out August 15.