It’s been 21 years since Deborah Cox defeated the “sophomore curse”, when her second album “One Wish” reached platinum status, and in between that time she’s become a Grammy-nominated artist, Broadway star, and a major tour de force in the dance music world. With all that she has on her plate, the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club was in for a real treat when the songstress landed in the DMV for her first of two shows.
Crisp, cool, fall evenings are usually the perfect scenario to snuggle up and stay warm with the one you love, while enjoying some classic R&B music. Couples took that mood one step further and celebrated #TBT when they came out on October 24th for a nice of class. Starting at approximately 8:20 PM, Ms. Cox dived right into her back catalog of music, opening up with “Up & Down (In & Out)“, which was the lead single from 2002’s “The Morning After” album. From here very first note, I had to ask myself “where HAS Deborah Cox been?” I wasn’t asking that to know about her physical whereabouts, but to jog my mind about why she isn’t the household mainstay that she should have been.
Underrated is an understatement when we’re referencing this singing dynamo, because she simply doesn’t get the credit that she deserves. Her vocal ability is rather insane, as every word was crisp and clear, and ever note was executed flawlessly. If I closed my eyes for just a few seconds, I would almost have to second guess if I was listening to one of her albums on wax, she was THAT GOOD! No surprise there though, as she has toured with the likes of other powerhouse vocalists, most notably Celine Dion.
For this being my first time ever seeing her in concert, she made the experience more like a moment of catching up with an old friend, rather than your typical musical concert. We were treated to various personal anecdotes that helped define her career, like her telling super producer Dallas Austin that she wanted to do a jazz inspired song, which in turn was how her debut single “Sentimental” was created, or how her recent trip to Ghana made for a more robust version of “Who Do You Love?”.
There were in fact a few old friends who she pointed out from on stage, and recounted stories of how they have supported her career since its humble beginnings. Deborah even pulled a couple of songs that hadn’t been performed in years, due to the persuasion of her fans on social media. It was a good feeling to hear many of these songs that I grew up with in a live iteration, brought to life by her four piece band, and two background vocalists. A few that we have to highlight are “It’s Over Now“, “Where Do We Go From Here“, and “I Never Knew“.
For the folks who thought that they were coming to just an R&B show, was in for a bit of shock when the Toronto native took us to the deep down south churches…this is totally something I never expected from her, but felt totally natural. Maybe she learned that from a fellow sister in song who is a well-known church girl, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston, who she portrayed in the hit Broadway play, “The Bodyguard“. Taking on a role of THAT caliber meant that she would have to perform THOSE signature songs, and we all know that not everybody can sing a Whitney Houston song, but there was no question that Deborah was meant for that role. We got a little taste as she sang “I Have Nothing“, “Run To You“, and “I Will Always Love You“, and those were the best renditions of the songs that I had ever heard. There was even a bonus, with the inclusion of their duet “Same Script, Different Cast“.
After more than an hour and a half on stage, and numerous tunes, she delivered the one song that we all had been waiting all night to hear, her biggest single to date, “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here“. Truthfully speaking, I really couldn’t hear what she was singing since the entire crowd sang the lyrics louder than her. That ladies and gentlemen, is when you know that you have a tune that has definitely stood the test of time.
The night was everything that I had envisioned it to be, but just have a bit of advice for Deborah Cox. Please don’t make us wait eons before your next visit to the area, because your talented is needed, wanted and still desired.