Since the mid-1990s, Deborah Cox has maintained a multifaceted career as a singer of sleek soul-pop hits and as an actress on Broadway’s musical stage. There, smash R&B singles such as “Sentimental” and “We Can’t Be Friends” go hand in hand with success in musicals “Aida” and “Jekyll & Hyde.” She was also a friend and labelmate of the late Whitney Houston, whose role in the 1992 cinematic romantic thriller “The Bodyguard” Cox steps into as its touring theater production hits the Academy of Music. Sure, you’ll hear Houston’s hits like “One Moment in Time” and “I Will Always Love You,” but expect Cox to tenderly make them her own.
You always wrote most of your own songs, something your contemporaries couldn’t or wouldn’t do. Why was that important?
I wanted to make sure “Deborah Cox’s voice” was in each song, in some way. Even if it was a song that I didn’t write, I tweaked it enough to make it mine. It’s been important for me to have that liberty.
Serious as you are, was it totally cool finding your songs remixed and huge within the dance music community?
It happened organically, so it was nice. The remixes clicked and had their own identities. They really began to resonate within the gay community. They did their own thing.
You were laudably close to legendary music mogul Clive Davis, who signed you and made you his protege. Only Whitney Houston held such favor with Clive. Did you feel the pressure?
We’re still close, with him supportive of all I’ve done on Broadway. He understood I had a musical theater background before I made records and wanted me to develop all my strengths. Under his tutelage, he allowed me to be a well-rounded artist who never had to stoop to do things like take off my clothes or be image-focused. He’s a good man.
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