Gibson, Deborah (Contemporary Musicians)
Ever since she could walk, Debbie Gibson had music in her blood and theater in her heart. As a young child she played both roles of Baby June and Baby Louise in a 1982 Long Island production of Gypsy. She also performed with the Metropolitan Opera. Yet all the while she kept singing and composing her original pop songs on the side. Dilligently writing her songs and recording them for her own personal enjoyment and those of her neighborhood friends, she knew that it was only a matter of time before she could make this secret dream a reality. As a teenager, she convinced her parents to help convert the family garage into a high-tech recording studio. What followed was some serious music making. At age 16, she cut "Only In My Dreams" on a 12 inch disc in her own little production shack and sent the demo to Atlantic Records. Atlantic was surprised at her genius and gave her a recording contract. The single "Only In My Dreams" skyrocketed onto the top 40 charts and introduced Debbie Gibson's talent to the world.
After another more months of preparation, she released her debut album, Out of the Blue, in 1987. The songs "Foolish Beat" from Out of the Blue, and "Lost in Your Eyes" from the double platinum Electric Youth, catapulted into number one hits, earning her the 1989 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Award. An award she shared with Bruce Springsteen in a tie. But it gave the teenage Gibson the distinction of being the youngest artist in entertainment history to write, produce and perform such a feat. "Being versatile bridges the gap between the recording studio and the theater," she told Billboard's Chuck Taylor. "It's really the perfect match. "Her most rabid fans call themselves "Debheads."
A series of award winning albums followed in lightning succession. In 1990, she went gold with Anything Is Possible. At the same time, she continued in theater, entertaining Broadway audiences with her portrayal of the tragic Eponine in Les Miserables, the rock and roll tart Rizzo in Grease, the romantic lovelorn Belle in Beauty and the Beast, and as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. During this time, she even made guest appearances on television in such shows as Beverly Hills 90210 and Street Justice. However, Gibson was not one to neglect her original musicand she hit the pop charts again with Body Mind Soul in 1993, and Think With Your Heart In 1995. Grown into a mature young woman, Gibson decided to make some changes, dropping the name Debbie for the more adult Deborah. And in a surprising musical lark, audiences were stunned to hear Deborah singing back up on a Circle Jerks album. Doing the accompanying vocals to "I Want To Destroy You," she excited the Circle Jerks and their producer so much that they wanted her to go touring with them and work on the entire album. "People were shocked," she told Detour Magazine's Dennis Hensley. "I loved putting myself to that extreme. I can let my hair down and rock with the best of them. I have a gutsy side, and I have a sensual side, everyone has." She declined the Jerk's invitation but appeared with them one night in New York's punk mecca CBGB's. The moshers became wilder as Deborah egged them on. She climaxed the performance by diving headfirst into the mosh-pit. "I stage dove into the crowd," she told Detour's Hensley, "You're floating on a sea of hands, on a lot of Mohawks and piercings."
After all this, she decided it was finally time she started her own recording label. Many successful musicians have attempted to do so in the past but with mixed results. She chose to think positive thoughts and started Espiritu Records. The company's first releace was the self-titled Deborah in 1997. A track from this effort, "Only Words," is a hard, powerful dance remix which recently made Billboard's Hot Dance-Music/Club Play's Top 40. But most critics panned this latest album as they have her previous three efforts. Even so, a small number of critics were surprised to hear the depth and maturity of this new production but were hesitant to endorse it for fear of being labeled a Debhead. Gibson feels that many critics as well as audience members still can't get that perky teenage Electric Youth image out of their heads. "I don't know how to be put into a little box or category," she told Dance Music Authority's Jeffrey L. Newman.
Now, at the age of 28, having sold over 16 million albums worldwide, with enough gold records, and musical awards to fill half a dozen livingroom mantlepieces, Gibson reflects on her whirlwind career. "My perspective has changed quite a lot over the years," she told Taylor. "I try to hold on as much as possible to that raw enthusiasm. That's what makes it enjoyable. I've learned a lot about people, some good, some bad. But the most important thing I know is it's most satisfying to be yourself, accepted or not. I'm doing this the way I want to do it."
Gibson still maintains her mother Diane as manager. Also, she regularly includes her sisters in various production aspects of her career. Family has always been an important part of Deborah's life. The Gibson family shares a very loving, atmosphere together. That is why Deborah is able to maintain such a caring, positive family-oriented personality.
She also believes in supporting charities. Along with her musical and theatrical careers, there is another side to Deborah Gibson, one of concern for the less fortunate. She also understands the tragedies which hardships can bring. Her own father, Joe Gibson, had a hard life as a young man and even spent some time in an orphanage. She has done work and continues to do work for the Pediatric Aids Foundation, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and St. Mary's Children & Family Foundation. The St. Mary's Children Foundation is a special concern for Gibson, since her father spent several years there as a child. It involves providing a caring home for abused, orphaned, and otherwise neglected children. At present, she is still single, but wishes to eventually marry and have her own children, as well as adopting several others.
While waiting for that one special romance to happen, Gibson occupies herself by more work. Ever the energetic, she finished a six-week run of Gypsy at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, New Jersey during the 1998 fall season. Also, she recently wrapped up several acting roles starring in two as of yet unreleased movies, Wedding Party, and My Girlfriend's Boyfriend. In addition, she has completed some songs for the soundtrack of Ethan J. Todd Anderson's film Naked Man, is recording a concept album for Z, The Masked Musical. Presently she is working on an original musical called Skirts that will hopefully premiere on Broadway.
Anything Is Possible, Atlantic Records, 1990.
Body Mind Soul, Atlantic Records, 1993.
Deborah, Espiritu Records, 1996.
Electric Youth, Atlantic Records, 1989.
Greatest Hits, Atlantic Records, 1995.
Out of the Blue, Atlantic Records, 1987
Think With Your Heart, Atlantic Records, 1995.
Billboard, August 16, 1997.
Cosmopolitan, September 1998.
Dance Music Authority, August 1997.
Detour Magazine, April, 1996.
In Style Magazine, October 1998.
National Enquirer, August 18, 1998.
People Magazine, August 17, 1998.
Additional information provided by Espiritu Records publicity materials, 1998, and from Deborah Gibson sites on the World Wide Web.
Timothy Kevin Perry