October Artist of the Month: Heather Headly
Heather Headley (born October 5, 1974) is a Trinidadian R&B and soul singer, songwriter,record producer, and actress. She has won one Tony Award and one Grammy Award.
Headley was born in Barataria, Trinidad and Tobago, the daughter of Hannah and Eric Headley. At age four, Headley began playing the music of her native Trinidad, including calypso, reggae, and soca. In 1989 she moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana in the United States at the age of fifteen with her mother and brother Junior, when her father was offered a job as pastor of McKee Street Church of God.
Headley attended Northrop High School, and was a member of their resident show choir, Charisma, and starred as Fanny Brice in the school's production of Funny Girl. After graduating from Northrop High School, Headley attended Northwestern University to study communications and musical theatre until the last day of her junior year, when she made the difficult decision to become a part of the musical Ragtime and drop out of school.
On September 6, 2003,Headley married Brian Musso, formerly of the New York Jets. Both attended Northwestern University. On December 1, 2009 they welcomed their first child John David.
In 1997, she originated the role of Nala in The Lion King, the Broadway musical. Headley's performance was well-received and she then originated the title role in the Broadway adaptation of Aida, earning the Tony Award for Best Actress in 2000. In 1999, she appeared in the Encores! production of Do Re Mi, with Nathan Lane, Randy Graff, and Brian Stokes Mitchell. She also starred in a concert version of the musical Dreamgirls alongside fellow Tony Award winners Audra McDonald and Lillias White.
In the autumn of 2006, Heather performed Hal David and Burt Bacharach's song "I'll Never Fall In Love Again", from the 1968 musical Promises, Promises for "The Kennedy Center Presents: The 2006 Mark Twain Prize," honoring playwright Neil Simon. The ceremony was later broadcast on PBS.
On 5 July 2007 Headley did a guest appearance for Andrea Bocelli's Vivere Live in Tuscany concert in Lajatico, Italy. They performed Vivo Per Lei and The Prayer. Headley sang "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" (also known as "America") with Josh Groban on January 18, 2009 during the We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. On March 12, 2009, Headley sang, "I Wish" on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Headley released her debut album, This Is Who I Am, in October 2002 on RCA Records. Although its first single, "He Is", was not very successful, the second single, "I Wish I Wasn't", achieved moderate success. The work on this album earned her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and for Best New Artist.
Her second album, In My Mind, was delayed due to the various executive shake-ups associated with RCA parent BMG's merger with Sony.
Under BMG North America chairman/CEO Clive Davis for the first time, Headley released her second album In My Mind in January 2006. The title track "In My Mind" ( produced by India.Arie collaborator Shannon Sanders ) was released as the first single; and its music video was directed by Diane Martel. The song reached number-one on the U.S. Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. The second single "Me Time" was released to Urban AC outlets only. An album track, "Am I Worth It", served to promote Headley's New March of Dimes Educational Campaign "I Want My 9 Months".
In 2009, Headley, along with Al Green, released a version of the song People Get Ready on the compilation album Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration.
On the 31st of January 2010, Heather won her first Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album for Audience of One on the EMI Gospel label.