(Debra and her adorable baby Evie. Look at the hair on that baby! Too cute.)
When I met Debra a few months ago, and she told me that she was a “professional musician,” I was totally intrigued. I went and looked up her music online, and I was totally blown away. Debra has an amazing voice filled with lots of soul. She writes her own music, and she even gave me a sneak listen to her upcoming song “La La La” (mentioned later in the post). I have had the chorus of the song stuck in my head ever since. Since I’m sure that Debra wasn’t going to willingly offer me details and brag about her awesomeness, I was able to find the following info on her :
DEBRA ARLYN, Portland Music Awards “Best Female Artist of the Year”, continues to gain industry success as ‘Portland’s finest young pop singers…” says the Willamette Week. Debra has captivated audiences at colleges, major music festivals, and popular music venues. Performance highlights include the Portland Waterfront BluesFest, both The Bite of Seattle and Bite of Oregon Festivals, and opening for Tower of Power, Chris Isaak, Curtis Salgado & Epic artist Lenka.
Debra’s songwriting talent has won her top prizes in the John-Lennon Songwriting Contest, Billboards World Songwriting Contest, The Great American Song Contest, Unisong International Song Contest, The Singer/Songwriter Awards, Winery Music Awards and being listed on the annual ˜Top Hot Unsigned Artists” from LA’s Music Connection Magazine . Her music was in the film “ClearCut” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on the Sundance Channel, and on TV shows including the CW TV show “Related” and “Keeping up with Kardashians” on the E! Network.
Chris Isaak and Lenka… wait.. they are like amazing famous musicians. And her music was featured on “Keeping up with the Kardashians?”. I’ve never actually watched that show, but we’ve all seen those olive complected, pretty, and well endowed (although I would speculate not naturally well endowed) sisters all over the covers of magazines. I’m telling you all, Debra is the real deal. When she sang in the studio during her photo shoot, Chris was going on and on about how impressed he was too. Don’t take our word for it, though. You can all visit Debra’s website: www.debraarlyn.com to listen to samples of her music. Oh, and I should also mention that Debra is a very down to earth nice person, and wonderful mama. It is fun to watch a sweet mama succeed at something she is passionate about. Enjoy the beautiful pictures and following interview!
The whole family
Kara-At what age did your parents realize that you had an amazing voice? What kind of training did you do when you were younger?
Debra- I was singing and banging on my toy piano at a very early age, and my parents had me singing in churches and talent shows starting around 3 or 4 I believe. It was pretty obvious that I loved music and had a gift for it. My Dad never put me in singing or music lessons, because he wanted me to remain “outside of the box” and be able to write and perform my own songs and melodies without music theory getting in my way. He saw that I had the ability to create music naturally and put my own style into it.
Kara-How would you describe your style of music? Has your style evolved over the years?
Debra- I describe my music as Pop/Soul and Singer/Songwriter. The songs have a pop formula as the structure, and my vocals are very much influenced by gospel, soul and R&B styled singers. I have always written love songs, but over the past few years my songs have become an outlet for me to discuss my feelings on motherhood and personal and spiritual growth, as well as my maturing world view. When I was writing songs from 18 – 22 years of age, they had the typical youngster angst to them, but thankfully that has changed ha ha.
Kara-What are your ultimate goals with singing? How far do you want to go with pursuing a singing career?
Debra- Well, I did music as a full time profession after high school up until I got pregnant in 2010 and took a break. I had a band and I toured the West Coast and put out 3 CDs, and I also had music placed in films and TV shows. However, I would love to be able to tour nationally and in other parts of the world supporting my family with music, and I am always looking for ways to get my music more exposure. I’m at a place where I am completely content if that doesn’t happen, but I am always open to opportunities that may allow for that to happen for me.
Kara-Who are musicians that inspire you and why?
Debra- There are many different musicians that inspire me from different genres and eras. I love Carol King, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Van Morrison, Bill Withers, Billy Preston, The Beatles, Paul MCartney, Amy Grant, Cindy Morgan, Sheryl Crow, Lauren Hill, early Mariah Carey, Fiona Apple, Ed Harcourt, John Mayer and Jason Mraz to name a small few. I love pop music and I admire artists who write their own music.
Kara- Have you written any songs about Evie? How has motherhood inspired you as a musician?
Debra- Oh yes. I am currently working on a new album and writing songs for it, and I would say over half have been inspired by her. There is one song called “La La La” that is basically a lullaby to her. The message of the song is that life can always be beautiful and worth it, no matter how dark or bleak it appears, because Somebody loves her.
Kara-Hypothetically speaking, what would one have to do to land a spot as a back up singer for you?
Debra- Ha ha you are too cute. I know you love to sing and I want to hear you! When I have a gig I will give you a call.
Kara-What are other hobbies you have besides music? What are you passionate about?
Debra- I love watching and discussing movies, they have always been a big part of my life. I enjoy going on long walks and hikes to take in the beauty that surrounds me and clear my head. And during my pregnancy I was in bed sick a lot, so I re-discovered my passion for reading. My favorite things to read are books or blogs about philosophy, theology, or any apologetic material, and I also am apart of a book club and we read a lot of classic literature. In stark contrast to that, I am also a junky for pop culture! So you will probably always find a People magazine at my house :). If you have anything you want to know about Britney Spears or the latest season of Project Runway, I can fill you in!
Kara-What brings you peace and happiness?
Debra- My husband, Evie and my family. Nothing is more fulfilling than becoming a mom, and I feel most content when we are sharing those quiet, everyday moments together as a family. I am happy when I am singing or listening to a song that moves me in some way. I also am happy when I can spend time laughing, being silly and sharing with my friends and cultivating meaningful relationships. I am so thankful and happy that I have stayed in my hometown Corvallis and am raising my family in such a warm, beautiful and welcoming community. I’ve loved living here all my life. I feel a tremendous sense of peace when I realize the Grace that God has shown me through this journey of music and motherhood. I spent a long time being fearful and anxious about life, and that has changed. Ultimately knowing that everything is working out for my good gives me great hope and peace.