Real name: Heather Headley.
Born: Oct. 5, 1974, in Trinidad.
Heather, the daughter of a pastor, began playing concert piano by the age of four and later learned various music styles, including calypso, reggae and soca. At the age of 15 she moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana in the United States when her father was offered a job there as a church pastor. After graduating with honors from Northrop High School, Heather attended Northwestern University to study communications and musical theatre.
In 1997, Disney recruited her for the role of Nala in the history-making debut of the Tony Award winning musical The Lion King following that up with the marquee role in the Elton John/Tim Rice show Aida, and by then Heather's show business career was cemented. Two years later, Headley was recruited by RCA Records and she migrated from the stage to the studio to record her first album as a solo artist. That debut album, This Is Who I Am, was released in 2001.
Although her critically acclaimed first single, "He Is," wasn't a major hit, the follow-up, "I Wish I Wasn't," was more successful and earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, along with a Best New Artist nomination. The album eventually went gold, selling over half a million copies. Her second album, In My Mind, was delayed due to the various executive shake-ups associated with RCA parent BMG's merger with Sony. It was finally released in January 2006.
2003: Won the Soul Train Lady Of Soul Award for R&B/Soul Album of the Year, Solo, for "This Is Who I Am."
2003: Won the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award, Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist, Solo, for "He Is."
2000: Received the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre.
1999: Won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, for "Aida."
"My childhood in Trinidad cemented everything I now know. It was an amazing environment to grow up in. If a teacher walked into the classroom you stood up, you called people Mister and Miss, and you relied on your neighbor and they relied on you. There's such a great tapestry of culture there, when I need to get that back I always return to Trinidad." -- Heather Headley.