Deborah Cox was born in Toronto to parents of Afro-Guyanese descent, grew up in Scarborough, Toronto and attended John XXIII Catholic Elementary School and Earl Haig Secondary School. She began singing on TV commercials at age 12, and entered various talent shows including an appearance on Tiny Talent Time. She performed in nightclubs as a teenager, and began to write music around the same time. Cox entered the music industry in the early 1990s, performing as a backup vocalist for Celine Dion for six months. After receiving many rejection letters from Canadian record labels that claimed their "quota" had been reached, Cox moved to Los Angeles in 1994 with producer and songwriting partner, Lascelles Stephens.
In 1995, label executive Clive Davis signed Cox to Arista Records, and she released her self-titled debut album the same year. After middling success, Cox released a non-album single for the soundtrack to the 1997 movie Money Talks, titled "Things Just Ain't The Same". A dance mix of the song with a remix by Hex Hector topped the U.S. dance charts and was included on her second album, 1998's One Wish.
The first single from that album, "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here", spent fourteen weeks at #1 on the Hot R&B charts in the USA, as well as eight consecutive weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album went platinum, becoming Cox's biggest-selling album to date. Cox then recorded a new song, "Absolutely Not", for the soundtrack to Dr. Dolittle 2. Remixes of the song repeated the success of One Wish's singles on the dance charts, and the Hex Hector Chanel Mix of "Absolutely Not" was included on her third album. After One Wish, Cox appeared on the single "Same Script, Different Cast" by Whitney Houston from Whitney: The Greatest Hits.
Cox's third album The Morning After was released in November 2002 on J Records.
On February 17, 2004, she made her Broadway debut in the Elton John-Tim Rice musical Aida, returning to recording only to release a dance remix of "Easy As Life" as a single.
Cox also has been involved in a number of movies and soundtracks. In 2000, she played Niko Rosen in Love Come Down. In 2001, her hit song "Absolutely Not" was featured in Dr. Dolittle 2. In 2005, in the movie Blood of a Champion she played the role of Sharon, and again in 2005, her voice was featured in the movie Hotel Rwanda in the song "Nobody Cares".
To sustain demand for Cox's club appearances, while focused on her family and new album projects, she released a dance single titled House Is Not a Home on Nervous Records in January 2006. Later in the year, the song "Definition of Love" was used in the movie Akeelah and the Bee, but was not released as a single.
Between 2005 and 2006 Deborah recorded her fourth album, called Destination Moon, arranged and produced by Rob Mounsey. It is a tribute to jazz singer Dinah Washington and was released on June 19, 2007.
Cox performed the Canadian national anthem at the 2008 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans. She contributed the song "This Gift" to the soundtrack of the 2008 movie Meet the Browns and was part of Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Tour 2008. Deborah has also starred in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" alongside Golden Brooks and Darius McCrary.
In early 2008, Cox & Stephens created the Deco Recording Group, her very own independent label, which is distributed through Image Entertainment. Soon she started recording songs for a new album.
Her fifth R&B studio album, The Promise, was released on November 11, 2008. The first single "Did You Ever Love Me" was released to radio on August 26, 2008 and peaked at #69 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart. The song "Beautiful U R" has been released digitally to iTunes and Amazon.com on September 16, 2008. It has recently reached #3 on the Canadian Radio Chart becoming her most successful single in nearly ten years. It also peaked at #3 on the Canadian Hot AC Chart (January 2009 Chart) and hit #1 on the US Dance chart becoming her tenth song to do it. Deborah has also appeared during her promotion for "The Promise" with interviews on Entertainment Tonight Canada, E-Talk, CHUM FM, Proud FM, various CBC radio shows, and over 70 interviews across the country. The video for "Beautiful U.R." is directed by Lil X, and has been serviced on November 15, 2008. The song was certified gold for digital downloads in January, 2009. "Saying Goodbye" was sent to Urban/AC radios in February, while "The Promise" was scheduled to be released as a single in July. Cox joined forces with Kenny Lattimore for the "Timeless Promise Tour" in July 2009.
The Promise debuted and peaked at #106 on the US Top 200 and on #14 on the US R&B Album Chart selling 6,419 copies in its first week. As of September 19, 2009 it has sold about 38,700 copies in the US.
In April 2009, she was featured on the single "Leave The World Behind". The house track was produced by four DJs — Axwell, Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Laidback Luke. It peaked at #40 on the US Dance chart.
In September 2009 it was announced that Cox would be joining Kelly Price and Tamia to form the "super group" The Queen Project. In a February 2012 interview with Seattle Gay News, Cox confirmed that those plans were on hold, due to scheduling issues. "Each of us has moved on and we are all doing our own projects now." She also noted that she is currently working on a dance album. "My fans have been hounding me about another 'remixed' album."
In December 2011, Cox achieved her 11th #1 with "If It Wasn't For Love"
On September 7, 2012, Cox gave her inaugural performance as Lucy the female lead in a revival of the musical Jekyll & Hyde starring Constantine Maroulis: after premiering in La Mirada CA this production toured North American for twenty-five weeks playing at twenty locales, then began previews for its Broadway run April 5, 2013 officially opening its planned limited engagement Broadway run of thirteen weeks on April 18, 2013. Despite Cox herself receiving good reviews, the production did not enjoy strong Broadway box-office and subsequent to its non-showing in the 2013 Tony Awards list of nominees announced April 30, 2013 Jekyll & Hyde was announced to be playing its final show May 12, 2013. Cox had a new track "Higher" issued in the autumn of 2012, and in May 2013 stated she was planning to record a dance version of the Jekyll & Hyde number "Someone Like You". Also, in April 2013 Cox stated that a projected Broadway musical in which she'd play Josephine Baker, which had been workshopped in 2011, was still planned, the production being dependent on an available venue.
In 2014, she was one of the performers at the opening ceremonies of WorldPride in Toronto, alongside Melissa Etheridge, Tom Robinson and Steve Grand.
Later that year, she released a midtempo song "Kinda Miss You" on February 3, 2015. It was followed by the ballad "More Than I Knew" which was released on April 14, 2015, and has currently peaked at #15 on Urban AC radio. Both are set to appear on her upcoming album Work of Art which was set for release on August 14, 2015 through DECO/Primary Wave Music.
Cox provided vocals for the 2015 Whitney Houston biopic, Whitney, directed by Angela Basset.
Beginning in the fall of 2016, Cox will be starring as Rachel Marron in the North American Tour of the musical The Bodyguard premiering at Paper Mill Playhouse and playing in cities across North America. In early 2017, it was announced she would be releasing a covers EP of Whitney Houston songs titled I Will Always Love You - EP to promote the musical on March 31, 2017.
In June 2017, she released a new dance single "Let the World Be Ours Tonight" during LGBTQ pride season. It reached #1 on the dance chart.
Cox currently lives in Miami, Florida. She is married to her high school sweetheart and manager, Lascelles Stephens. They have three children: son, Isaiah (born July 1, 2003), and two daughters, Sumayah (born June 29, 2006), and Kaila Michelle (born February 23, 2009).
Studio albums1995: Deborah Cox
1998: One Wish
2002: The Morning After
2007: Destination Moon
2008: The Promise
2017: I Will Always Love You - EP
2017: Work of Art
Won: Juno Award for Best R&B/Soul Recording (Deborah Cox).
Nominated: American Music Award for Favorite New Artist – Soul/Rhythm & Blues.
Nominated: Juno Award for Best Female Vocalist.
Won: Juno Award for Best R&B/Soul Recording ("Things Just Ain't the Same").
Won: Soul Train Award for Best R&B/Soul Single – Female ("Nobody's Supposed to Be Here").
Won: Juno Award for Best R&B/Soul Recording (One Wish).
Nominated: Juno Award for Best Female Vocalist.
Won: Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for Best R&B/Soul Song of the Year ("Nobody's Supposed to Be Here").
Nominated: Genie Award for Best Original Song ("Our Love" and "29" from Love Come Down).
Nominated: Soul Train Award for Best R&B/Soul Single – Group, Band or Duo ("Same Script, Different Cast" feat. Whitney Houston).
Nominated: Image Award for Outstanding Female Artist ("We Can't Be Friends")
Nominated: Juno Award for Best Dance Recording ("Absolutely Not").
Nominated: Juno Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year (Destination Moon).
Nominated: Grammy Award Best Engineered Album, Non Classical ("Destination Moon").
Received a star on walk of fame, in Toronto's Scarborough Town Centre.
Nominated: Juno Award for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year (The Promise).