Headley was born in Trinidad, the daughter of Hannah and Eric Headley. At age four, Headley began playing the music of her native Trinidad, including calypso, and soca. In 1989, she moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana in the United States at the age of fifteen with her mother and brother Iric 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. After graduating from Northrop High School, Headley attended Northwestern University to study communications and musical theatre until the last day of her junior year, when she made the difficult decision to become a part of the musical Ragtime
and drop out of school.In 2003, Headley married Brian Musso, formerly of the New York Jets. Both attended Northwestern University. On December 1, 2009, they welcomed their first child John David. On March 26, 2014, Headley announced that she and Musso are expecting another child.
In 1997, she originated the role of Nala in The Lion King
, the Broadway musical. 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. In 1999, she appeared in the Encores! production of Do Re Mi
, with Nathan Lane, Randy Graff, and Brian Stokes Mitchell. She also starred in a concert version of the musical Dreamgirls
alongside Audra McDonald and Lillias White.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 5 July 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. 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 and a What's On Stage Award for this performance.Heather joined the Andrea Bocelli UK Tour playing Glasgow Hydro on 23 November and at the Leeds First Direct Arena on 24th November 2013Headley is expecting to reprise her performance of Rachel Marron in the upcoming Broadway production of "The Bodyguard" set to open somewhere in the 2014-2015 season.
Headley released her debut album, This Is Who I Am
, in October 2002 with RCA Records. 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.Her second album, In My Mind
, 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. 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
.On the January 31, 2010, Heather won her first Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album for Audience of One
on the EMI Gospel label.In December 2010, Headley performed a duet version of "Blue Christmas" and "My Prayer" with Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli on Bocelli's "My Christmas" tour in six cities. 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 back and get her to come back on stage.Heather Headley released her 2012 album Only One in the World
on September 25, 2012 with the lead single "A Little While".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 Musical. She also appeared with Il Divo on Broadway for a limited concert run.