R&B/dance superstar Deborah Cox is coming back to the tri-state area to headline Jersey Pride in Asbury Park on June 3. Cox tells Get Out!’s Michael Cook about what she’s been up to and what she has in the pipeline.
Deborah, thanks for taking the time to speak with me! You just got back from Vienna’s LifeBall, right?
Yeah, it was amazing. I’m wiped, but sleeping on the plane back definitely caught me up. Going into it, there was such anticipation because of the huge production that I was a part of in opening the show, and seeing all of the footage from years before; I had no idea what I was getting into. Actually being there and being a part of it was like nothing I had ever seen or been a part of before. It was like the Olympics, Gay Pride and Mardi Gras all rolled into one! It was also the 20th year, and I was so impressed with how organized it was. They set us up with a private charter plane, and as soon as we got off the plane it was immediate red carpet. Everyone just had their sips of Red Bull and charged through it.
Speaking of Gay Pride, you’re coming to Gay Pride on June 3 to headline Jersey Pride in Asbury Park! Is this your first time in Asbury Park?
Yes, it’s my first time in Jersey, and I’m definitely looking forward to it. I do a lot of private gigs and club dates in Jersey, but it’s my first time headlining a Pride event. It’s gonna be amazing!
Your music continues to define having an amazing night out in the clubs. How does it feel to be such a trailblazer?
I’m actually fed by the adoration and the love that I’ve gotten over the years; it’s what really fuels me. Many times, as an artist, you can be unclear as to what direction you should go in. I do music from the heart, and when there’s a great amount of love and respect for what I do, it fuels me, and it really inspires me to keep going!
“It’s Over Now,” “Things Just Ain’t The Same” and of course “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here” are some of your biggest hits from the height of that era. What is one amazing memory that you have from that time period?
New Year’s Eve 1999, I think, was probably the time that sticks out the most. I had four different shows in one night and four completely different crowds. It was the R&B version of “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here,” which was blowing up, and it had such a frenzy for that version, because it had that gospel-inspired vocal and production. On the flip side, the dance version was a different type of adoration and love for the big vocals, and I found myself doing R&B shows, and then on the other hand doing gay clubs and circuit parties ‘till 5 in the morning! I think I opened myself up and spread myself in that year. I really found myself being able to reach everyone with every different style.
While we love your dance music, you recorded a Dinah Washington tribute album a few years back, which was incredible! Any plans to revisit that era and record another one?
We all have to have albums like this. I listen to the “Destination Moon” album myself a lot. It takes me back to growing up and listening to my parents’ records, and they listened to Billie Holiday and Dinah, who paved the way and didn’t care about boundaries and just went out and did it. Dinah was one of those mavericks, and it was such an amazing experience doing that record. I definitely want to do another one; it’s about timing and finding the right distributor who just gets it.
You’ve worked with industry heavyweights such as Tony Moran, Hex Hector and Tracy Young. Any other producers you would love to collaborate with?
There’s a few names, but I really match the music to the DJ. They may not be a huge “name” and they may be up and coming. For example, working with Swedish House Mafia (“Leave It All Behind”) was matching them up with the song. The song was already done and they added to it, making it a whole different monster. Working with Hex and David Morales, it was much more collaborative, and it was working on something from beginning to end. It’s important that the DJ or whoever does the remix brings something special to the table, or it would be just another record. I’ve worked for over 15 years with Hosh Gureli and my manager Lascelles; we just go in and make it happen and get it done!
You recorded “Same Script Different Cast” with Whitney Houston several years back. Obviously the loss is not only profound to the industry, but in this case, to you personally. What are some of your favorite memories of that recording?
My best memories are the two of us in the studio, face to face, on the mic, and looking deeply into her eyes. When you’re working with someone who has been an icon, a mentor, and someone you admire, to have that quiet moment with them and sharing and exchanging music with them is extremely profound. The two of us were singing straight from the heart. One thing about her is that she didn’t want the song recorded separately in different places, which she could have easily done. She wanted to make sure that the two of us were in the studio together recording it, and she made it happen. It was a dream come true, and was deeply, deeply special.
What’s next for Deborah Cox? The boys need more music!
I can hardly keep up! [laughs] I am going on the road with “Jekyll and Hyde,” where I’m playing “Lucy.” We’re heading out on a 26-city tour throughout the United States. It starts in San Diego, then we hit Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Tampa, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, among others. We are then coming to Broadway in March of 2013! “Lucy” was not a role that was written for an African-American Woman, either. I feel very fortunate to have landed this role, and I could be breathing life to another iconic piece. People know “Jekyll and Hyde” music inside and out, and to be able to bring my own style and my own soul to the songs is going to be amazing. I crave that kind of freedom creatively and can’t wait!
PERFORMING AT ASBURY PARK PRIDE JUNE 3!