By Ishawna Ross
Drake, Tory Lanez, Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara along with plenty of other notable singers stepped out of Canada with huge success, putting the Toronto music scene in the spotlight; however, it all started with this Scarborough native who was the first to do it all.
Deborah Cox is a singer/songwriter who was born on July 13, 1974. Being of the Afro-Guyanese descent she is one of the first Black R&B stars who had successfully dominated the Canadian music industry all while being an important figure in the music scene as well. She has worked with the likes of Whitney Houston, John Legend, Baby Face and Clive Davis. Her accomplishments showcase how she broke the barrier within the Canadian music scene all while taking the American music market by storm making her our R&B Queen of the 6ix.
© Deborah Cox | YouTube
Deborah started her singing career at the tender age of 12. She began singing in talents shows, TV commercials and nightclubs (with the guidance of her mother). With many failed efforts to try and sign to a Canadian label, Deborah and her husband/manager Lascelles Stephens ventured out to L.A; where she became a background singer for pop star Celine Dion under a six-month contract. While on tour, she met the President of Arista Records and well-known producer, Clive Davis who then went on to help produce her first album.
Deborah Cox debuted her first album Deborah Cox, which was released in 1995 under Arista Records. Her debut single Sentimental successfully charted #4 on the billboard charts. In Canada she sold 100,000 copies making her platinum, while in the U.S she went gold selling 500,000. With the success of her first album, Deborah cox received her first Juno Award for “Best R&B & Soul” in 1996.
© Sony Music VEVO
After two years, Deborah returned with her sophomore album One Wish, which was released in 1998. The first single of the album Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here was a hit landing it at #1 on the R&B charts and #2 on the pop charts. The song managed to snag best R&B/soul song of the year at the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards beating out Lauryn Hill and Janet Jackson. She’s also the first Canadian to win a Soul Train Award for Best R&B/Soul single for Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here. Her album went on to be gold in Canada and Platinum in America charting at #14 on the Billboards.
© Deborah Cox | Youtube
Still high from the success of her sophomore album, all eyes were on Deborah, including The Princess of Pop. In 2000 Deborah received an invite from the legendary Whitney Houston to duet with her on a song for her upcoming album. The two went on to release the single Same Script, Different Cast which was released off the album Whitney’s Greatest Hits. The single went on to chart at #14 on the R&B/Hip Hop Charts.
Deborah Cox since then put out three more albums. Her third album was Morning After was released in 2002. It peaked at #7 on the R&B/Hip Hop charts. Her follow up album was Destination Moon which released in 2007. The album is a tribute album to the jazz singer Dinah Washington. The label released two singles, Baby, You’ve Got What It Takes and What A Difference A Day Made; both huge hits from Dinah. The album charted #3 on the jazz charts, landing her a Juno Award for Vocal Jazz album of the Year. Clive Davis and Deborah also parted ways during this time, making Deborah an independent artist. In 2008 Deborah and her husband created their label called Deco Recording, where she released her next album The Promise. A couple of the song writers and producers she collaborated with are John Legend & Sheep Crawford. The album managed to chart #14 on the billboards.
Deborah contributed a few singles to films such as Nobody Caves from Hotel Rwanda (2004) & Definition of Love from Akeelah and the Bee (2006). She joined the U.S Tour for the cast of BodyGuard in 2012 and sang for Whitney in the biopic Whitney directed by Angela Basset in 2015.
Whether we know it or not, the success of Deborah Cox is an important figure in Canadian music because of her breakthrough and how it affected the Canadian scene. She made her own wave with huge success and reaped the benefits of it all. And for that, VIBE105 pays homage for her achievements and to give her recognition on being the first within the urban music scene to do so.