Deborah Cox has made history.

At Sunday night’s Juno Awards, the Toronto-born and -raised singer became the first Black woman inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

“So many have embarked on a musical career, but only few have ever landed here,” Cox said, accepting the honour. “Growing up as a young Black girl in Toronto, Canada, this vision seemed intangible.

“It wasn’t easy to leave my home, but it was necessary. Otherwise, I’m not sure that I’d be standing here this evening. Those rejections become redirection, and only added fuel to my fire.”

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After spending her teenage years performing in TV commercials and working as a backing vocalist for Celine Dion, Cox moved to the U.S., where Clive Davis signed her to Arista Records and released her first, self-titled album.

Her second album, 1998’s One Wish, became a huge success, going platinum in the U.S., and spawning the chart hit “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here”. She has since released more albums and appeared in films and such stage musicals as Aida on Broadway.

In her acceptance speech, Cox acknowledged the many people who have supported her along the road.

“Firstly, my mother, who is here tonight,” she said. “Thank you, Mom, for your tireless efforts, from driving me to my performances *tears* growing up, even through blizzards.”

Looking to her two daughters, the 47-year-old said, “Thank you for sharing your mommy with the world, and for never making me feel less of a mother. You have given me so much grace in my quest to juggle it all, but I can only hope that this moment inspires you to reach for whatever heights it takes you for you to fulfil your dreams.”

She added, “Thank you to all of my fans across Canada and worldwide for sticking with me all these years.”

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Cox also thanked her high school sweetheart-turned-husband Lascelles Stephens, who has also been her producer and songwriting partner throughout her career.

“Our journey started in that tiny, one-bedroom apartment in Scarborough,” she recalled. “I genuinely believe that our souls found each other. And when the noes and the disappointments were unbearable, our relationship and our commitment to each other helped us to overcome the business’s challenges. You and I sustained this, and there’s nothing better than sharing this moment with you, the person that I started this journey with. There is no Deborah Cox without you, Lascelles. I love you.”

Finally, Cox said, “Now, I’m not sure how my next chapter will unfold, but it will certainly be hard to top this. I thank you.”