TORONTO – Deborah Cox gave birth to her third child on February 23 and then rested – for about a month.
After that? Well, she was needed – to present trophies at last month’s Juno Awards, to promote her first independent album, “The Promise,” and to perform for the various causes that are close to her heart.
But did she jump back in a little bit soon?
“I tend to be kind of overextend myself sometimes, and I overcommit, so I committed to a few things that were probably too early,” she said in an interview following rehearsal for a Toronto show. “And I didn’t really give myself enough time. But it’s cool, I’ve gottten through it.
“With me, I just try to find a way to make it happen and keep it moving.”
On Thursday, the R&B singer was set to join Diana Krall and Chantal Kreviazuk in the Becel Love Your Heart Benefit Concert at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre, a free show meant to promote awareness of heart disease in women that was to be simulcast at movie theatres across the country.
Though Cox says she doesn’t have any immediate family members who have suffered through serious heart problems, it’s something that concerns her personally.
“It’s a disease that kind of sneaks up on women,” she said. “And it’s a disease that we don’t really talk about, or you don’t hear much about, the way you would with AIDS or cancer, so I think it’s important for more concerts like this for us to get together to again bring it to the forefront.
“We really need to get (the information) out there so I decided to lend my celebrity and bring some awareness to the cause.”
Not that the 34-year-old Toronto native is ever particularly reluctant to lend her celebrity for a good cause.
Just this past weekend, Cox performed at a gay pride festival in Phoenix, and will perform at other such festivals this summer in Toronto, Milwaukee, Nashville and Los Angeles.
She’s become a mainstay at such events – “For me not to be at a pride is probably not the usual,” she says with a laugh – and says her involvement is not specifically about gay rights.
“It’s all about equality, human rights,” she said. “Just because a person’s gay does not make them inhuman. I’m an advocate for human rights, for everyone to be treated equal and fairly. That’s another reason I come out and do what I do, because that’s important to me.
“I have friends, family, people that are either gay or lesbian and they’re wonderful people. So I come out to support.”
The three-time Juno winner released her fifth studio album, “The Promise,” in November. The record is on Deco Recording Group, a label she began with husband Lascelles Stephens.
She says she’s found releasing her own music to be a challenge – yet she doesn’t see herself going back to a major label.
“It’s been crazy, honestly,” she said. “When you’re indie, you don’t have that big machinery behind you. You don’t have all those big departments to report to or to handle certain things.
“So at the moment, it’s almost a mom and pop operation where we’re just getting our feet wet and still navigating our way through it, but I think the rewards are greater because you’re not expected to have to do certain numbers to see any sort of return.
“And creatively, it’s much more freedom.”
She’s just released the album’s piano-driven title track – written for Cox by John Legend – as a new single.
“It’s a song about commitment, commitment to the ones who support and love you,” she said. “I felt very strongly about that whole sentiment, so that’s why I named the album ‘The Promise.”‘
Next, Cox plans on going into the studio and working on a Christmas album, with a tour scheduled for the fall.
The Miami-based singer tried to take some time off after 2002’s “The Morning After,” but wound up starring in the ’06 movie “Blood of a Champion,” dropping a jazz album and periodically releasing singles.
She does believe she’ll be able take a break soon – “I think now I know how to take time off and make the time more of a working vacation,” she says – but doesn’t ever really plan on slowing down.
“It’s always hard,” she said. “It’s insane, it’s insanity, but that’s life. And I don’t want to miss out on life anymore. I want to be able to still enjoy family, friends and still do what I love to do.
“So I’ll still be juggling.”