Heather Headley, Only One In the World
Many try, but few have succeeded in dominating multiple fields of the entertainment industry quite like Heather Headley. Before she was a GRAMMY Award-winning R&B and gospel recording artist, she nabbed the Best Actress Tony Award for her starring role in the Broadway production of Aida. Now, Headley reminds us that she remains a force to be reckoned with, as she releases her newest album, Only One In the World.
For her fourth album, Headley enlists the production help of Paul Mills and Keith Thomas. The result is a well-rounded collection of original compositions, inspirational songs and R&B remakes, each of which demonstrate the signature strength and polish of Headley’s voice, as well as the universal appeal of her sound.
One of the album’s standout performances definitely comes from Headley’s remake of “Run to You,” the love ballad made famous by Whitney Houston in her role as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard. It’s a fitting cover, as Heather Headley now makes her London West End debut, reprising the same role in The Bodyguard Musical. True to the original, Headley’s version features intricate orchestration and a passionate lead vocal performance.
Beyond “Run to You,” Headley puts her own spin on several other beloved classics, including Brian McKnight’s “One Last Cry,” Karen White’s 1980’s hit “Superwoman” and the energetic “River Deep, Mountain High,” made popular by Tina Turner. She weaves through the decades and the styles as if each tune were penned, initially, for her voice.
With all of the familiar favorites, it might be easy to lump Only One In the World into the “special project” category, but it features several original compositions as well, including the bluesy “Bring Him Back,” the ballad “I Wish,” and “A Little While,” a song inspired by Headley’s admiration for her mother’s care and commitment to the family. And fans will be surprised to hear a considerably urban Headley on the bass-heavy “Hey Mama,” penned by Headley’s brother, Iric Headley, Jr.
Headley shines brightest, perhaps, on her heartfelt rendition of “Home,” from the Broadway production of The Wiz. It’s the album’s closer and on it, we hear Headley in her most comfortable, Broadway zone.
On each song of Only One in the World, Headley finesses the fabric of every lyric as the part of a larger story, delivering notes as deliberately as she would lines of a script. It’s a skill she undoubtedly honed starring on Broadway, culminating in a heartfelt and well-expressed collection of emotions that resonate with our hearts.