Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

Deborah Cox's new J Records debut, "The Morning After," could have easily been titled "New Places, Familiar Faces," as it marks a reunion of the singer with her former label boss, Clive Davis, ex-Arista president and current J Records chairman/CEO. The set was released Nov. 5.

Cox says it's a reunion that took a frustratingly long time to come to fruition. "It took a year for the dust to settle," she says of her exit from Arista, "but the cool thing is that there's some of the old regime in this new regime. Then there are new people that have come in [on this project] that have watched my career from the outside who bring some new ideas.

"I was filming a movie ["Love Come Down"] when all of that stuff was going down," she adds of the switch. "I was working with my team of managers and lawyers, making sure that, first and foremost, I was going to be protected. Secondly, I wanted to make sure that I was going to be with a person that was going to follow through.

"There's not a lot of loyalty in this business, but Clive has been loyal. I didn't want to have to choose because that didn't seem like the issue -- choosing between [Arista president/CEO Antonio] "L.A." Reid and Clive. That's not what it was about. It was about my career and how I was going to be able to maintain some kind of longevity through all of this. I started something great with Clive, and I wanted to continue it."

Through the transition, Cox kept fans abreast of her life and work via her official Web site. "It's not just a promotional tool," says Cox. "I wanted the Web site to be an extension of my personality. I wanted to reach out to people who may need advice, so there are chat rooms and message boards so people can connect with me. There is also behind-the-scenes footage so people can actually see the work that goes into putting a record together. I'm trying to use my influence as a celebrity and a singer to reach out to people and do something more than just what I do in videos and onstage."

"Last year, we had a decently successful single with 'Absolutely Not,' which was a dance hit as well as a radio hit in a number of markets," J Records executive VP of worldwide marketing and sales Tom Corson says. "Deborah's visibility hasn't gone away in the way that a lot of other artists' might have. We've maintained a very reasonable level of visibility, so there are a lot of people checking for Deborah."

With lead single "Up & Down (In & Out)" gaining attention at radio, J is looking to build awareness for the album by marketing it to all of Cox's core fans. The label hired Flylife, a lifestyle marketing company, to market to the dance community, while its in-house urban team will handle street team, promotion, lifestyle, and retail campaigns for that format.

Cox recently wrapped a 20-market promotional tour. Other promotions include a customized radio campaign with DNL, a 7Up-affiliated brand, which began in November. The "Up & Down (In & Out)" video clip is featured on Continental Airlines' in-flight reel.

Much of Cox's recent success can be attributed to her foray into dance music: She has scored six No. 1s on the Hot Dance Music Club Play chart with her dance remixes. "The whole dance audience all happened by accident," Cox admits. "It was purely a matter of me wanting to spread my wings and not be pigeon-holed.

"What I bring to dance music is emotion. When people think of dance and techno records, they don't think of emotion behind the music, whereas a lot of times people have said that my interpretation of a song makes them think on the dancefloor or makes them feel something outside of just partying. I'm happy about that. I don't want to be pigeon-holed. Being an artist is just that-you should be able to have the freedom to do all types of music."





Excerpted from the Nov. 16, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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