As a component of"s week-long solemn event of all things 1998, Deborah Cox — as well as the song"s writers, previous A&R executives, and others — call the unlikely story of how "Nobody"s Supposed…


Deborah Cox attends the Fourth annual Soul Train Lady of heart Awards top top Sept. 3, 1998 at Santa Monica public Auditorium in Santa Monica, Calif.RonGalella, Ltd/WireImage

This week,yellowcomic.comis celebrating the music of twenty years ago through a week of content around the most interesting artists, albums, songs, and also stories indigenous 1998. Here,yellowcomic.comtells the oral history of Deborah Cox’s “Nobody’s claimed to be Here,” a song that overcame a an overwhelming development duration to come to be one the the best hits that the so late ’90sand, eventually, a gay anthem.

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“Nobody’s supposed to be Here,” in short, wasn’t supposed to it is in here. Yet not only did it defy the odds, the helped adjust both the see of R&B and preconceptions about dance music, thanks to an above Hex Hector remix that’s particularly beloved in the LGBTQ community. (The track was newly immortalized in an epos RuPaul’s traction Race lip-sync face-off — possibly the greatest honor in the canon of contemporary gay anthems.)

As a component of our week-long celebration of all points 1998, speak to Cox — along with the song’s writers, which include ’90s R&B star Montell Jordan, and also former A&R executives and also others affiliated in the song’s story — about how it come together, the rocky road to the release, and why the still endures two decades later.

“THERE was NOTHING ELSE the end THERE prefer IT”

Anthony “Shep” Crawford, co-writer and also producer: I composed the song for Patti LaBelle. I witnessed her do at the soul Train Awards and also said to myself, “I need to write a really big song for Patti.” I’ve always been the human that women come to for advice. If a solitary person says, “Shep, just how come ns don’t have actually a man?” ns tell them, “When you stop looking, that’s once he’ll uncover you.” but I didn’t desire to just have actually a happy song. I want to make certain it handle the pain. You deserve to listen toit whether you’re in love or even if it is you’re sit at house with the shades down.

Montell Jordan, co-writer: Shep and I thrived up play in church together. He was on the organ, i was ~ above the piano. When he pertained to me, he just had a item of the chorus.

Crawford: I sung the hook come Montell: “My love says, ‘Nuh-uh’/ Nobody’s an alleged to it is in here.” and also I psychic Montell saying, “Patti is not going come say ‘Nuh-uh.’ You have actually to change that to adjust that come ‘No, no.’” A pair weeks ~ that, Montell was supposed to go into the studio , however he had to fly out. The studio time to be booked, so ns went in by myself and also recorded all of the music through a band prior to the verses were even written. Montell came back the following day.

Jordan: I was composing from the view of, “If Patti LaBelle was going to be to sing this song, what would certainly she say?” So for the heat “This time, i swear I’m through, but if only you knew,” we composed that due to the fact that of Patti LaBelle’s song “If just You Knew.”

Crawford: that didn’t walk to Patti, of course. The was difficult for us, because we had actually successwith Let’s Ride>but no success with any type of other artists. So we started shopping the song.

Jordan: It didn’t gain placed. The song sat around for over a year through no one wanting it. Us were flabbergasted, since in our heartswe knew there was nothing else out there favor it. But Iguess it was God’s timing, because once the interest finally came for the song, a bunch of world wanted it at the very same time. Sylvia Rhone was looking at the tune for her artists. Def Jam to be trying to move more into the field of R&B and wanted the track for Kelly Price. Puff Daddy wanted the song for confidence Evans .

Drew Dixon, previous vice president, A&R, at Arista Records: I uncovered it and brought it come Arista. I came from Def Jam and also had to be Montell’s A&R human there. Ns met through Montell and also Shep Crawford, and they play me a bunch the songs consisting of “Nobody’s an alleged to be Here” and also “We Can’t it is in Friends” . I was blown far by the “Nobody’s claimed to it is in Here” demo, so ns submitted that in an A&R meeting.

Keith Naftaly, previous vice president, A&R, in ~ Arista Records: If us were walking to present something to Clive, we would have to rate the on a range of 1 to 10, where 8 intended you assumed it might be a height 10 single. It was constantly such a big deal to present Clive a song. You’d have actually a cassette that the track wrapped increase in the lyric sheet, which to be the only means Clive would listen to songs. Drew and I both thought it to be a 9 the end of 10.

Jordan: Clive Davis approached us and said, “I have actually all the divas on one label.” so we believed to ourselves, “Well, Patti LaBelle didn’t desire the song, it would be great to gain a standard artist. If Whitney go this song, it’s out of here. If Aretha go this song, it’s the end of here.” We decided to give the song to Clive due to the fact that of that relationship.

Dixon: I actually said to Clive, “This is silly.You have to break Deborah Cox. You had actually a whole album, however you never had a document that damaged all the method through because that her. She was an alleged to be your following Whitney Houston. I love Faith.This would certainly be great for Faith. However this can break Deborah.”

Crawford: Puffy want the tune for Faith, but we to be told that wasn’t walk to be a single. Us felt prefer it had actually to it is in a single.

Dixon: I may have said the to them to gain them on mine side, honestly. I didn’t desire to push Clive to provide it come Deborah just for them come say, “We’d fairly it it is in on Faith’s album.” ns may have planted that seed: It can gain lost top top Faith’s album, or it can be the most vital record top top Deborah Cox’s album.


Crawford: At the time, we were act “We Can’t be Friends” with Deborah. Deborah came to the house due to the fact that we wanted to play more songs for her. Us were not an alleged to beat the “Nobody’s supposed to be Here” demo for her. <Laughs> but Montell go on and played it, just as an instance of what us had. As soon as she heard it, she said, ‘Whose track is this?’ and we said, “Right currently Clive has the record.” therefore Deborah went earlier to Clive and also said “I really, really, really desire this song.”

Deborah Cox: The track crossed my route in at an early stage ’98. I had actually taken a small time turn off —I gained married in Jamaica —and to be really in search of a direction because that the second album. Once Shep and also Montell played it because that me, I automatically knew the song was a smash. I simply remember listening it and also going, “Oh my God, this speaks to me!” I had actually just gone with the very same thing: i was captured off guard with the love of mine life, therefore it yes, really resonated.

Jordan: Once we committed the tune to Clive, he changes his mind and also says, “Well, I’m not going to provide it come Whitney or to any of the others. I’ve got this more recent artist named Deborah Cox.” It was like, “Wait, we provided you the record because we thought it was going to be something for one of the larger artists.”

Dixon: When you contact somebody and also say, “Clive placed your song on hold,” the immediate hope is the Whitney’s gonna sing it. But I never ever said that. I don’t psychic a conversation with Clive follow me those lines.

Crawford: I remained in the studio and saw her to sing on Lou Rawls Parade of Stars. Ns told my engineerto turn up the TV and also was like, “I did not understand she might sing like that.” ours manager called me a week later and said, “What perform you think around Deborah Cox law the song?” If that wasn’t for me seeing her carry out on TV, i would have actually doubted it.

Cox: There to be people, consisting of the writers, that weren’t sure whether it to be going to be something I might really deliver based on what I had recorded before. Ns didn’t have a most songs ~ above the an initial record wherein I could let it rip. I had to really prove the I might perform it.

Jordan: ns didn’t feel confident till we gained into the studio and heard Deborah open her mouth.

Crawford: She came in, and also I was like, “Can you just sing a small bit? We’re just going to check the mic and make sure we acquire the levels.” and she started singing. The crazy thing is that Deborah knew the song. Sometimes when we job-related with an artist, they don’t really know the song, so you say, ‘You obtained the verse? Okay, let’s carry out the chorus. Okay, let’s get the 2nd verse.” She sung the tune all the method through! i told my engineer to record, and also my engineer said, “I don’t have the level yet.” I stated “Listen, record.” She was prepared to go.

Cox: I knew this was going to it is in the tune where ns was maybe to perform a most vocal tricks that nobody had ever before heard Deborah Cox do. I’ve constantly wanted to it is in an artist that had longevity, therefore I want to do that point and permit the world know, “I’m here, and also I’m not going anywhere.”


Crawford: While she was singing, ns was standing there saying, “Go girl, c’mon!” choose I remained in church. She delivered it. And also the funny thing was, ns played a small joke top top her: after ~ she fight the money keep in mind at the end, as soon as she came out, i acted choose I didn’t get . And so when she go right back into , i told her, “No, no, no, just come top top out.”

Cox: When I hosted that “Nooooooo” toward the finish of the bridge, i remember Shep’s jaw dropping and also him going, “Oh my God! oh my God!” due to the fact that that wasn’t on the original demo. There was a many stuff that wasn’t top top the original demo, so i think as soon as they heard what i did it v it and where i took that melodically, they were really pleased.

Crawford: I to be told Clive play it in ~ a meeting and got a standing ovation. The was supposed to be the 2nd single —the very first was supposed to be One Wishalbum called> “September” —but when he played it in ~ the meeting, he knew it was the one. The song hadn’t also been properly combined yet. The unstable mix is the variation we hear today. Clive, gift the genius that is, was like, “If it ain’t broke, don’t resolve it.”

Dixon: That conference was a large turning point. When the the promotions department and also the metropolitan department heard it, they to be blown away. Ns think that’s once it was yes, really clear: The tune moves people.

Crawford: I will certainly tell girlfriend Clive to be a small concerned the the girls who sung the lift sounded as well churchy. That felt like probably we should make it an ext commercial.

Jordan: Shep had some church girls singing the chorus that the song, this real gospel feeling.

Crawford: I didn’t speak to my continuous R&B demo girls, I dubbed up three girls from my church choir and said, “Can girlfriend guys come to the studio tonight?” i remember having actually this conversation through Drew. Ns said, “If you take those girls off of this song, it won’t be as special.” I encouraged them to leave those girl on.


Darren Grant, “Nobody’s an alleged to it is in Here” video clip director: Deborah’s manager at the time hit me up and said, “Clive Davis think Deborah’s tune is walking to it is in a hit and also thinks you’d be great for it. Yet he desires to fulfill with friend today.” ns said, “Well, I’m in brand-new York on a flight back to L.A. In a couple hours.” He’s like, “Great, a auto will pick you up and also take you come the Beverly Hills Hotel to satisfy with Clive, so you should have some concepts when the airplane lands.”

I really preferred that movie Eve’s Bayou and thought, “What if we shot this down southern in new Orleans, with the heat of the summer and also the mysticism that comes together with that?” Clive said, “I love it!” we actually finished up shooting on the same home where they shot Eve’s Bayou, just due to the fact that I preferred that location so much.

Cox: When friend think about gospel music, girlfriend think around where it come from and the depths of the background of the place. I believed it to be a really special ar to have the video done.

Grant: There’s other about brand-new Orleans that really is emotionally and also spiritually heavy. There was something eerie in the air. The home we shot at to be haunted. I remember the caretaker would certainly not go into the home at all because of the stories about nannies showing up in the middle of the night and pictures flying throughout space. It was really strange, too, because everybody’s devices — phones, computers — were every crashing and also not working. There was absolutely something mystical happening.

Cox: I simply remember the eeriness. The was yes, really dark, and also there was just a real power around. Several of the crew to be like, “Wow, this location is really amazing at night.”

Grant: The various other night, Sheila Coates, that was on that shoot and also worked for the label at the time, inquiry me, “Do friend remember when we traction Deborah into the trailer and also said, ‘You’re no performing that the means you need to be performing it?"” There’s a certain delivery artists need to have because usually they’re not really to sing — I constantly tell them to sing, due to the fact that that’s when you obtain the most herbal performance, however it’s difficult with many takes. However they walk in there, had actually a talk through her, and the following thing I understand she came out, veins popping, and also delivered what ns feel is one of the finest ballads of the last 20-plus years.


Cox: I knew the tune was a smash, yet there were slight bookings because it to be so gospel-laden. I distinctly mental radio programmers telling me the it would certainly never gain played in ~ radio.

Dixon: This is going to sound crazy, yet I never ever thought about that. Ns don’t have the promo muscle in mine body. It’s all creative: What would I love to hear? What would prevent traffic? If I had actually thought around , then I might have second-guessed myself.

Jordan: Clive most likely threw everything and also the kitchen sink at radio come make certain this record acquired its play.

Naftaly: We broke a many the rule at that time by publication a single that was a sluggish jam, i beg your pardon was respond to to a most the very first singles that were being released at the time. And also it take it off prefer a rocket. That wasan A&R success story beyond our wildest dreams.

Cox: i knew it to be a hit when it to be on The Beat, a hip-hop-heavy station in L.A. That never played ballads. Ns remember we were driving down the 405, and also it came blaring on the radio, and I was like, “We made it!” We’d have actually conference calls through Arista staff informing us, “This tune is yes, really doing what no various other song has actually done. World are room calling earlier wanting come hear it over and also over again.”

Crawford: Not just did it walk No. 1 because that 14 weeks, however to discover out that it is No. 5 on’s biggest of all Time R&B/Hip-Hop song list? That’s remarkable to me. That’s other I desire to have the ability to tell mine grandkids, and for lock to be able to tell your grandkids.

Cox: I never had actually an opportunity to yes, really talk around that moment when it was No. 2 for so long. Ns remember it to be under Celine Dion —who was among the vocalists i sang background because that —. Ns remember going, “Wow, it’s No. 2!”

Jordan: Hopefully even Celine was able to look in the rearview winter like, “Oh cool, this was one of my lift singers, and also she’s coming for this No. 1 spot!”


Cox: It’s funny, everyone had amnesia or selective memory. And also I’ve confronted every one of those programmers. They conceded and were like, “You to be right, ns stand corrected.” that was the year that I relocated to Florida, and also I was just shocked in ~ how countless times it to be played ~ above the radio. Every time I would go in mine car, over there it was! but a the majority of artists were really supportive that the song and also the means that i was singing it. I remember talking to mary J. Blige once it was simply blowing up, and she was like, “Girl, the song! Girl, that song!”


Cox: My favorite memories that this time are hopping from all these various awards shows in 1999, indigenous the Grammys come the Music Awards come the heart Train Awards. Ns was nominated because that an NAACP picture Award. There were a most Junos. Gift nominated because that so plenty of awards was really impactful and also gave me whatever that I necessary to move forward in the industry.

Jordan: “Nobody’s supposed to it is in Here” assisted jumpstart even more production and also songwriting work for Shep and also me, since everybody started coming to us saying, “Hey, we want a song favor the Deborah Cox song.” That opened up the door for us to work-related with tons of various other artists, prefer Tamia and also Lil’ Mo. Ithink that tune validated me together a songwriter, and I’m thankful to Deborah for that.

Crawford: us didn’t gain a possibility to really reap prefer we wanted to since the inquiry for an ext songs favor that maintained coming in. I remember when I an initial met Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, they thanked us for doing that song. Ns think producers felt an ext freedom to use real instrumentation. “Nobody’s an alleged to it is in Here” to be a breath of fresh air in a music industry that was going very digital. Producers felt liberated to carry musicians in. I felt choose we made background there.

Dixon: there was yes, really slick, urban, hip-hop-influenced, program-heavy R&B music the was funny to hear to. And then there was this counter movement: D’Angelo records, Lauryn Hill records. Ns think Shep’s sound to be a huge contribution to that body of work.

Cox: i remembergoing to various performances that Patti LaBelle was doing. She would talk around this hit track that gained away, and then she would certainly sing the song!<Laughs> The an initial time ns heard her sing it to be at the significance Festival, and there’s simply nothing choose hearing your track sung by your hero.

Jordan: I happened to meet Patti countless years later, and she pulled me by my ear like an auntie: “Come here, I want to speak to you.” She traction me end to this team of world like, “Tell them what you did, tell them that that track was for.” i said, “Well, we originally wrote ‘Nobody’s claimed to be Here’ for you.” and she stopped for a 2nd and said, “And i couldn’t listen it. Ago then, my husband, my son, everybody was trying come tell me, ‘This is you. This is her record.’ I just couldn’t hear it.”


Hosh Gureli, former senior director, A&R, at Arista Records: I commissioned Hex Hector come remix “Nobody’s an alleged To be Here.” he was instrumental in , so it was herbal to go through him. Hex was definitely my man for remixes.

Naftaly: Clive definitely took dance music and also the crossover potential of a run song an extremely seriously, not only as other creatively vibrant, but also as a far-reaching revenue resource and a career-builder.

Crawford: I will certainly say the dance version is as important to the success of “Nobody’s supposed to be Here” as the initial version.

Cox: We had actually both versions cooking at the same time. We had actually the dance version of the song, and we had the R&B version at radio. We had club days booked. We additionally had R&B dates booked. That really opened up a whole plethora of methods that weren’t over there before. Ns remember that brand-new Year’s eve performing at three venues in new York City, three of the sexy clubs, since the track was so in demand. It was a funny time.

Gureli: It to be pretty rarely to have actually such a large remix. The CD solitary had both the original and the remix variation on it. It went on come sell nearly 2 million copies. Ballads typically did not carry out well overseas, however with the remix ~ above there,the record became a large international hit.

Dixon: I had previously tolerated dance mixes as just a necessary part of the process. And also when i heard that one, ns was puffy away. Ns was like, “Wow, okay, this is not simply the ‘dance mix,’ this is its very own thing.” the was one of those moments whereby we obtained goosebumps in the room. It to be not usual for the remix to provide you goosebumps.

Crawford: Hex Hector called me that since the original song to be 60 beats-per-minute, that didn’t have to touch thevocals. He simply took the song and also sped it approximately 120 beats-per-minute, however he maintained the very same vocals — they’re no sped up. He said, “It’s easier to remix her songs because you always record your ballads in ~ 60 beats-per-minute.”

Cox: This was a genre that wasn’t really linked with emotion .

Dixon: The mix really took benefit of the build-up, the layers, the vocals, the passion. It was inspired. That certainly readjusted my tardy of dance musicas somebody that was a an ext of an urban R&B consumer. I was like, “Okay, respect.” I’m guessing other human being felt that means too.

Gureli: the 100 percent, and also Hex had actually a lot of to perform with that. Maintaining the feel and also soul that the original was crucial to do these big ballads dancefloor anthems. After ~ the success of “Nobody,” every label starting commissioning mixes for their ballads to obtain exposure both ~ above the dancefloor and also in radio mix shows.

Naftaly: It catapulted her to gay-icon status while that was simultaneously No. 1 in ~ the R&B charts.

Cox: I realized it to be connecting through the gay community after the shows. Human being were coming to the dressing room in tears and telling me about how the music aided them come out, informing me really intimate story that I’ll have to take to the grave. It practically felt prefer the gay and also lesbian neighborhood started come confide in me. It to be a tiny awkward for me at first, because I didn’t realize how profoundly life-changing several of these songs to be going to end up being. But I really took on the responsibility and really taken my role and this platform. The reaction to that track made me an ext conscious of having actually a article in mine music.

Jordan: It to be Deborah’s love for civilization that opened the door for the to happen. The records she had actually catered come a lot of the community, but I think the would have actually happened with various other songs as well, just since of who she is as a person.

Cox: I simply finished doing the The Bodyguard musical tourism , and there were civilization that pertained to the show with their parents the they came out to. Their child was like, “I come out to her music. I was afraid to tell mine parents who I was authentically.” and also here castle were, sitting in the audience, enjoy it the music the Whitney Houstonwhile their son or daughter was enjoying hearing me sing because I to be the one lock listened to farming up. It was this crazy coming-of-age minute for so countless people.

Tom Campbell,RuPaul’s traction Raceexecutive producer:We’d been trying to acquire this song cleared as a Lip Sync For your Life because season one. No joke. The tune is amazing. The Hex Hector remix is epic. It’s got everything a lip-sync song have to have. First, Deborah’s voice is thick and also soulful, smoky and also strong, vulnerable and also indomitable — all at once. And also the remix allows you have it! It’s got starts and also stops, key changes, and a groove the throws girlfriend down and also picks you back up again.

BeBeZaharaBenet,RuPaul’s Drag gyeongju All Starscontestant:When I first moved to this country , among my good friends took me to my first drag show. Ns was like, “What is a drag show?” ns remember among the performers,CeeCeeRussell, to be performing “Nobody’s claimed to be Here.” ns was like, “Oh my God, i love this song!” I decided to find out it. The energy that you obtain from performing it, you get that earlier from the human being who are sitting city hall you perform — that’s why a most entertainers love it. And also the remix kicks it increase a notch. Once I was told i was going to it is in lip-syncing to it onAll Stars, ns was like, “I’m about to killing this song. I know every breath, every syllable.” ns was excited to perform that on nationwide television. Ns was humbled by the experience.

Cox:I was touring so lot recently the it to be really difficult for me to capture up top top shows. One night, mine phone to be blowing up. Anyone was texting me, hitting me up on Instagram and also Facebook. I was like, “What happened?” and also they were like, “Your song was onRuPaul’s traction Race!” when I observed the episode, I simply hollered like, “Wow!” most of the drag kings that I’ve heard from would certainly say the was their song — lock would success competitions v it, it offered birth to their alter egos. It to be the perfect choice.

Campbell: part of ours mission in ~ Drag Race is to teach the kids by turning them on come iconic artist from our affluent gay herstory. If there to be a mountain Rushmore that ‘90s divas, Deborah Cox would be on it.

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“THE tune WILL always BE alive TO ME”

Jordan: “Nobody’s an alleged to it is in Here” means something a small different come me. Comes up indigenous a black ar in South central Los Angeles, whereby I wasn’t claimed to live come see period 16, and also all the different obstacles I’ve faced — I’m not an alleged to be here. I feel prefer I’m someone that you would certainly look at and also say, “How did that male do it?Who would have thought the a son from South central would have actually one the the best songs with among the biggest artists of all time?”

Cox: ns never, never, never ever get tired of it. The song will constantly be alive to me. It’s still the song I near my mirrors with today, because it’s such a powerful one. That hits such a high keep in mind in the emotionally frequency that it’s just difficult to beat. Like, what song execute you carry out after that song? <Laughs> ns love that the tune is the signature song for me and for my career, because I wouldn’t desire it to be any type of other record.