Heather Headley

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Heather Headley
Headley in 2022
Headley in 2022
Background information
Born (1974-10-05) October 5, 1974 (age 48)
Barataria, Trinidad and Tobago
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • actress
Years active1997–present
LabelsRCA, EMI Gospel
Spouse(s)Brian Musso
Heather Headley on stage at The Muny Theatre 2018.

Heather Headley (born October 5, 1974) is a Trinidadian-born American singer, songwriter, record producer and actress. She won the 2000 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the titular role of Aida. She also won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album for her album Audience of One. In 2018, she recurred as Gwen Garrett on the NBC medical drama television series Chicago Med.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Headley was born in Trinidad, the daughter of Hannah and Eric Headley (Barbadian).[2] In 1989, she moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the United States[3] at the age of fifteen with her mother and brother Eric Junior when her father was offered a job as pastor of McKee Street Church of God with headquarters in Anderson, Indiana. 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.[3] After graduating from high school, Headley attended Northwestern University from 1993 to 1996,[4] to study communications and musical theatre until the last day of her junior year, when she made the decision to become a part of the musical Ragtime and drop out of school.

In 2003, Headley married Brian Musso, an investment advisor who briefly played for the New York Jets.[5] Both attended Northwestern University.[6] On December 1, 2009, they welcomed their first child John David. Headley had her second son Jordan Chase August 18, 2014.[7] In April 2019, the couple welcomed a third child, a daughter.[8]

Headley regularly performs with Vertical Church Band, the worship team from Harvest Bible Chapel. She is featured in their song "How Great Is The Love" and "All Glory".


Headley's stage career began in 1996 when she was cast as a member of the ensemble in the original Toronto production of the musical Ragtime where she was an understudy for Audra McDonald in the role of Sarah.[9] Her breakthrough came the following year when she originated the role of Nala in the Broadway musical The Lion King.[10] 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.[10] In 1999, she appeared in the Encores! staged concert production of Do Re Mi, with Nathan Lane, Randy Graff, and Brian Stokes Mitchell.[11] She starred in an Actors' Fund of America benefit concert version of the musical Dreamgirls alongside McDonald and Lillias White in 2001.[12]

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 July 5, 2007, Headley made 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.[13] On March 12, 2009, Headley sang "I Wish" on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

From November 2012 until August 2013, Headley played the role of Rachel Marron, in the musical adaptation of Whitney Houston's 1992 movie, The Bodyguard at London's Adelphi Theatre. She was nominated for an Olivier Award[14] and a What's On Stage Award for this performance.[15][16]

Heather joined the Andrea Bocelli UK Tour playing Glasgow Hydro on November 23 and at the Leeds First Direct Arena on November 24, 2013.

On May 10, 2016, Headley assumed the role of Shug Avery from Jennifer Hudson in the recent Broadway revival of The Color Purple, which closed on January 8, 2017, at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.[17]

From 2017, Headley is co-starring in Spike Lee's Netflix reboot of She's Gotta Have It as Dr Jamison.[18] She also voices of the part of Fikiri as Makini's Mother in The Lion Guard.

In May 2022, Headley played the Witch in the Encores! version of Into the Woods. She starred alongside Sara Bareilles, Neil Patrick Harris, Gavin Creel, and Denée Benton.


Headley released her debut album, This Is Who I Am, in October 2002 with RCA Records.[19] 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 making her the first Tony Award winner to be nominated for this award.

Her second album, In My Mind (2006) 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.[20] The title track "In My Mind" (written and 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 sent to Urban AC radio 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.[21]

In January 2010 she won her first Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album for Audience of One on the EMI Gospel label.[22]

In December 2010, Headley performed a duet version of "Blue Christmas" and "My Prayer" with Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli on his "My Christmas" tour in 5 US cities.[23][24][25] At the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, on December 4, 2010, the audience insisted on a second encore with Bocelli. Bocelli had to summon the detail to go and bring her back on stage.[citation needed]

Headley released her album Only One in the World on September 25, 2012, with the lead single "A Little While".[26]

In September 2013, Headley appeared on America's Got Talent with Il Divo and sang "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" from The Lion King.[27] She also appeared with Il Divo on Broadway for a limited concert run in 2013.[28]


In 2017, Headley appeared in a recurring role on the TV series She's Gotta Have It. In 2018, she appeared in a recurring role as Gwen Garrett on the TV series Chicago Med.

In 2019, Headley was cast as one of the three leads in the Netflix series Sweet Magnolias.[29]

In 2021, Headley starred as gospel legend Clara Ward in Respect, the Aretha Franklin biopic.[citation needed]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
This Is Who I Am 38 14
In My Mind
  • Release date: January 31, 2006
  • Label: RCA Records
  • Formats: CD, music download
5 1
  • RIAA: Gold
Audience of One 27 6
Only One in the World
  • Release date: September 25, 2012
  • Label: in:ciite Media
  • Formats: CD, music download
187 25
Broadway My Way
  • Release date: November 14, 2018[30]
  • Label: in:ciite Media
  • Formats: music download
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released to that country

Compilation albums[edit]

Title[citation needed] Details
Playlist: The Very Best of Heather Headley


Year Song Peak chart positions[citation needed] Album
US Hot 100 US R&B US Dance US AC US Gospel Hot Adult R&B
1999 "A Step Too Far" (with Elton John and Sherie Rene Scott) 15 Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida
2002 "He Is" 90 38 4 1 This Is Who I Am
2003 "I Wish I Wasn't" 55 15 5 1
2005 "In My Mind" 75 16 1 2 In My Mind
2006 "Me Time" 35 5
2008 "Jesus Is Love" 59 10 29 Audience of One
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" Non-album single
2012 "A Little While" Only One in the World
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Song Year Album
"Can You Feel the Love Tonight" 1997 The Lion King on Broadway Cast Recording
"The Madness of King Scar"
"Love Will Find a Way" (with Kenny Lattimore) 1998 Return to Pride Rock
"Just One Dream"[citation needed] 2001 Golden Dreams (film at Disney California Adventure Park)
"People Get Ready" (with Al Green) 2009 Oh Happy Day



Year Title Role[citation needed] Notes
1992 Fantasmic! Princess Medley Short
2001 Elmo's Magic Cookbook Pocket Queen Video
2004 Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights Rosa Negra Singer
Breakin' All the Rules Herself
2021 Respect Clara Ward


Year Title Role[citation needed] Notes
2017–19 She's Gotta Have It Dr. Clara Jamison Recurring cast
2018–21 Chicago Med Gwen Garrett Guest: season 3 & 6, recurring cast: season 4-5
2019 The Lion Guard Fikiri (voice) Episode: "Journey of Memories"
2020– Sweet Magnolias Helen Decatur Main cast

Awards and nominations[edit]


Year Award Category Recording Result[citation needed]
2002 Soul Train Award Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist "He Is" Nominated
2003 Billboard Music Award R&B/Hip-Hop New Artist of the Year Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Female Artist Nominated
Outstanding New Artist Nominated
Soul Train Lady of Soul Award R&B/Soul Album of the Year - Solo "This Is Who I Am" Won
Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist - Solo "He Is" Won
Best R&B/Soul Single - Solo Nominated
2004 Grammy Award Best New Artist Nominated
Best Female R&B Vocal Performance "I Wish I Wasn't" Nominated
2006 BET J Cool Like That Award Nominated
2010 Grammy Award Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album "Audience Of One" Won
Best Gospel Performance "Jesus Is Love" Nominated


Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2000 Tony Award Best Actress in a Musical Aida Won [31]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
Sarah Siddons Award Awardee [32]
2013 Laurence Olivier Award Best Actress in a Musical The Bodyguard Nominated [33]
WhatsOnStage Award Best Actress in a Musical Nominated [34]


  1. ^ Heather Headley on playing an unpopular boss on 'Chicago Med': 'I love it!' The Grio. September 27, 2018.
  2. ^ "Heather Headley Biography" FilmReference.com, accessed August 28, 2011
  3. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth. "June 10 is Heather Headley Day in Fort Wayne, IN" playbill, June 10, 2000
  4. ^ Yang, Rachel. "Northwestern alumna Heather Headley replaces Jennifer Hudson in Broadway’s 'The Color Purple'" dailynorthwestern.com, May 12, 2016
  5. ^ Paulson, Michael (July 5, 2016). "Heather Headley's 15-Year Intermission". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  6. ^ "In Step With Heather Headley"Parade, accessed August 28, 2011
  7. ^ "Heather Headley on Twitter: "The Commander has summoned a Lieutenant...We're a little nervous, a lot excited, & so overwhelmed with the miracle.."". Twitter. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  8. ^ "Heather Headley and Husband Welcome Third Child". April 22, 2019.
  9. ^ "PLAYBILL ON-LIne's BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Heather Headley". May 30, 2000.
  10. ^ a b "Headley Broadway" playbill (vault), accessed February 14, 2019
  11. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Stokes Mitchell & Heather Headley to Sing 'Do Re Mi' w/ Nathan Lane May 6-9" playbill, April 23, 1999
  12. ^ Portantiere, Michael. "Review. 'Dreamgirls'" theatermania.com, September 25, 2001
  13. ^ Gans, Andrew, "'Obama Inauguration Celebration', with Beyonce, Headley, Usher, Latifah, Broadcast Jan. 18" Archived January 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Playbill.com, January 18, 2009.
  14. ^ " The Bodyguard Musical leads the way with 4 Olivier Award nominations" showsinlondon.co.uk, April 26, 2013
  15. ^ "Bodyguard musical star Heather Headley wants to make Whitney role her own". BBC. May 2, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  16. ^ ""I Will Always Love You" - Heather Headley (The Bodyguard Musical)". YouTube. June 14, 2016. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  17. ^ Paulson, Michael (April 7, 2016). "Jennifer Hudson to Exit 'Color Purple'; Enter Heather Headley". The New York Times. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  18. ^ Brody, Richard (November 22, 2017). "Spike Lee's "She's Gotta Have It" Remake Is a Panorama of Anguish, Ambition, and Identity". The New Yorker. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  19. ^ This Is Who I Am allmusic.com, accessed February 15, 2019
  20. ^ In My Mind allmusic.com, accessed February 15, 2019
  21. ^ Price, Deborah Evans (March 27, 2009). "Jon Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah go gospel for "Day"". Reuters.
  22. ^ "Heather Headley Grammy" grammy.com, accessed February 14, 2019
  23. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Tony Winner Heather Headley Will Join Andrea Bocelli for December Concert Tour" playbill, September 14, 2010
  24. ^ Rodman, Sarah. "Singing in the season" The Boston Globe, December 3, 2010
  25. ^ Powers, Keith."Andrea Bocelli delivers highs, lows" Boston Herald, December 7, 2010
  26. ^ One in the World[permanent dead link] allmusic.com, accessed February 14, 2019
  27. ^ Champion, Lindsay. "B'way Meets Opera! Watch Il Divo & Heather Headley Sing "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" on America’s Got Talent" broadway.com, September 19, 2013
  28. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Il Divo – A Musical Affair, With Heather Headley, Concludes Broadway Engagement Nov. 13" playbill, November 13, 2013
  29. ^ "'Sweet Magnolias': Monica Potter, Brooke Elliott & Heather Headley to Headline Netflix Series". May 30, 2019.
  30. ^ "Tony Winner Heather Headley Releases Solo Album Broadway My Way November 14 | Playbill". Playbill. November 14, 2018. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  31. ^ "Heather Headley". Playbill. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  32. ^ "Awardees" sarahsiddonssociety.org, accessed February 14, 2019
  33. ^ "Olivier Winners 2013". Olivier Awards. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  34. ^ "Full list: Winners announced of the 2013 Whatsonstage.com Awards" whatsonstage.com, February 17, 2013

External links[edit]