Deborah Cox: I Promised…

After being compared to fellow Clive Davis protégé Whitney Houston and striking pure gold with the 1998 hit “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here,” Deborah Cox seemingly disappeared from the R&B scene whilst appearing on Broadway in ‘Aida’ and other projects including David E. Talbert’s ‘Love On Layaway.’ Now as a married woman, a mother of two, and six years after the release of her last J Records album “The Morning After,” Cox has returned to the scene on her own terms with “The Promise,” her first independently released album based on life and love. Promising to stay true to her vision of issuing an album that she was truly happy with from start to finish Deborah Cox sat down with Singersroom to discuss her return to where it all began – R&B.

Singersroom: Thank you for taking the time out to interview with Singersroom, please tell me about your new album “The Promise.”

Deborah Cox: I would say that it’s a very R&B/pop album. I think closest to my first album where it was more melody driven. A lot of the songs on this album are inspired by great melodies. It’s an album that I feel covers the gamut as far as all topics from personal [topics] to songs that were inspired by things that friends have told me about [and to] family members, things that they have gone through. Songs that are geared toward my life are ‘Beautiful U R,’ “All Over Me,” and “Down To You.”

It is really a compilation of songs that I had played over and over and over again after we had finished writing them and those were the ones that stuck because we wrote a lot of songs over the years but I only chose the ones that were on repeat.

Singersroom: Great and “Beautiful U R” is your lead single. Now you also had a chance to work with John Legend on this project is that right?

Deborah Cox: Yes. He wrote the title track. I loved the song from the get go, once I heard that John had written it I was like oh my god this is an amazing piece of music. The lyrics and what it was saying… I really felt like that song described every aspect of my life that I am going through right now.

It is a song (“Promise”) that is hopeful. It is also a song that talks about commitment, in terms of a commitment to family and the ones that you love. It’s exemplary of the place that I’m at right now in my life and I wanted that to be the title track because I felt like he nailed it. It is just one of those songs that says it all.

Singersroom: I look forward to hearing that record. In terms of a commitment to family you are actually a mom now, how does it feel to take on that role?

Deborah Cox: It’s a very interesting role because it is a very selfless role. I wouldn’t recommend being a mother to anybody that doesn’t like to share [laughs]… to share their self, share their time, share everything because it really is what you have to do when you become a mother.

You become selfless. You really have to be available to your children and their needs. I’m still learning how to balance this whole thing. It’s a complete balancing act because I love being a mother. I love children and I’ve always loved children. I’ve always wanted a big family but it is a lot of work and if you want to do both, which is have a career and have a family, it takes a lot out of you. So being the kind of people that we are, my husband and I, we pride ourselves on being able to do it thus far without a nanny. We’ve got an amazing support system with our family; my mother in law comes and spends time. We wouldn’t be able to do that and give these kids some sort of stability if we were not selfless. Sometimes things have to take a back seat while we take care of the kids, putting their needs first.

Singersroom: Have your children inspired you creatively?

Deborah Cox: They’ve inspired a whole new album that will come out soon.

I have this knack for coming up with these really fun melodies like the ‘brush your teeth song’, the ‘getting ready to go to bed song,’ all these songs that I kind of come up with to get them to do something because you have to make it fun for kids.

I think my experience – just in understanding that I am now responsible for these two, making sure that their lives are full and everything, I think that part of it has been put into the music.

Deborah CoxSingersroom: While you have taken sometime away from the R&B scene, there were a couple projects like Broadway’s “Aida” and David E. Talbert’s “Love On Layaway,” both of which were well received performances. How did your musical theater opportunities come about?

Deborah Cox: Doing musical theater is a passion of mine, something that I’ve done since my high school days. It is always something that I love to incorporate in my career. When the opportunity to do Broadway came up with “Aida” I jumped at it because I love musical theater and the character was just so intriguing. There was so much depth and so much conflict there that would make for a great, great musical.

I can say the same for “Love On Layaway.” Doing that show was really cool. The coolest part about that show was that I had a chance to write some of the music in the show, which I thought was really gratifying and I think it helped to propel the storyline through song. That kind of stuff I love, I love to evolve with not just the writing aspect, but helping the story along from a musical prospective … I love that.

Singersroom: Going back to your new album “The Promise,” was it hard selecting the title?

Deborah Cox: Titles for albums have always been a thing for me. It’s not the easiest for me because it is always hard to find ‘one word’ or ‘one song’ that covers the vibe and mood of the whole record especially since the record is written over a long period of time.

There are so many variables that go into the record so for that reason the titles are harder for me. With this project it had to be something that absolutely covered the topics on all levels. I was involved with this project from beginning to end. From the photo session to the art direction to the A&R, to picking producers and creating the synergy to make this whole thing happen. I like to have integrity so it takes a long time to find the right team that works. Once everything was done and we were trying to figure out what the title was going to be I was like “you know what, I promise myself that this time around I’m going to make sure that I’m completely happy with every single aspect of it.”

“The ‘Promise’ kind of spoke to me and it was easy at that point to name it because it was exactly what I had set out to do.”

Singersroom: I understand. With going independent this time out, which is great by the way, has the experience of putting the project together been completely different for you?

Deborah Cox: On some levels it felt like I was doing the same thing. Same amount of work. Probably more because I had to kind of oversee everything.

I’m at a different stage of my career now where I feel like I don’t have to appease people and I didn’t want to get caught back in that trap of what can happen when you’re involved with the majors which is saving certain things for the label which are for other artists. I didn’t feel like dealing with that again so I really wanted to try something [else].

It’s still a learning process for me. In this day and age the music industry is changing as we speak. A lot of it is internet driven but we still have to find ways to work both. It can’t be all or none. I think that it’s important to have some kind of balance in dealing with the digital world and dealing with retail. There is a certain partnership that we have to find so that we can all work together.

I’m navigating my way through it but I feel like I’m starting to see results. In some ways there is still a lot of work to do and we don’t have the capitol that the majors have but when we hit certain milestones we get the gratification right away which is sometimes half the battle.

Singersroom: At Singersroom we live by the motto ‘I Love R&B’. Why do you love R&B?

Deborah Cox: I love the soul. It’s passion music. Music that just comes from the heart, from depths of the soul. The backbone of R&B is gospel music and spiritual music so it just has a quality and a certain style that not every genre has and I love singing it!

Singersroom: And we love hearing you sing it, at least I do. (Both laugh) It’s great to have you back!

Deborah Cox: Thank you.

Deborah Cox’s new album “The Promise” hits stores and online retailers Nov. 11 featuring the lead single “Beautiful U R” and the soulful “Did You Ever Love Me.“” —— By: Interview By Njai Joszor


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