American singer, songwriter, producer and actress Debbie Gibson may have first burst onto the music scene at the young age of 16, but she has without a doubt proved that she’s got exactly what it takes to last a lifetime in this industry. Now for the first time, the Demon Music Group is helping celebrate Debbie’s three decades in music with the release of ‘We Could Be Together’ on the Edsel record label, a little later this month. We got the opportunity to catch up with Debbie and find out a little bit more about her amazing career, her recent stint on Dancing With The Stars and much more!
This year you’re celebrating 30 years in the spotlight; how does it feel to reach such a landmark point in your career?
It is so surreal! When I work with artists who have been doing this for five to 10 years, I feel like the veteran though. If I didn’t know any better, I don’t feel any generational gap at all!
When you look back at all you’ve achieved, what have been some of your favourite moments?
There is the overall feeling of accomplishment, and the tours and West End and Broadway moments, but to highlight some specific moments; the time Elton John invited me on stage to perform with him and Billy Joel always stands out as a ‘pinch me’ moment. It was at Madison Square Garden in New York City and I shared Elton’s keyboard with him, and we did ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’. He complimented me on my ability to improv, which was wild! Being a part of Atlantic Record’s 40th Anniversary, headlining the Rockin’ Rio Festival… The list goes on and on. I have had a crazy cool career thus far!
Similarly, what have been some of the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve had to overcome?
Just staying sane and grounded amidst the chaos, and trying to always remind myself that even when stressful things are happening, it’s all in the context of showbiz! I also have always navigated the slippery slope of being open and professional and accommodating without being inauthentic or selling my soul!
You were a part of a movement of women that really smashed down boundaries for females in the music industry; how do you feel looking at the modern-day world of music and the women within it?
Thank you for that! I cannot help but feel that much like women like Lesley Gore, Marie Osmond, Karen Carpenter, Rosemary Clooney, and the young girl groups of Motown like The Supremes and The Shirelles did it first and paved the way for me, Tiffany, Kylie… We all helped oil the machine for the next generation. I don’t think I invented anything but I do think I showed females could have hits as a composer and producer as well as an artist and so it does my heart good to see empowered gals out there like Taylor and Miley who have a strong point of view. I adore the current crop of females. I think it is a very unique time for women in pop music and I am a fan of so many of the great talents out there! It is inspiring to me in my current writing.
In 2014 you starred as a celebrity judge on ABC’s Sing Your Face Off; would you return to a show like this in the future if the opportunity arose?
I feel like that show got caught in some political crosshairs of a regime change at ABC and should have been a way bigger hit. The talent required of the contestants was insane and it was wildly entertaining. I have always quietly ‘mentored’ talent before it was a catchphrase on television, so I feel there is a place for me in that world for sure, having survived for a long time in this industry. I know I have a unique perspective and practical skills and constructive critiques to share!
How was your experience on Dancing With The Stars?
Amazing! And, short! (laughs) I still don’t fully understand the math, but having been in showbiz a long time, I get there is a lot at play in the ‘reality television’ world. I am just super grateful for the opportunity to have a platform for Lyme Disease, which affects so many people silently worldwide, and I finally proved to myself that I wasn’t down for the count physically. I am stronger than I think. We all are. That is what I took away from it and I hope others in need of hearing that message did too. I don’t think I ever danced better than I did on my final Tango night. It wasn’t that the skill level was off the charts, but my commitment to the attitude and the finer nuances that honoured the tradition of this dance were all in play thanks to my awesome partner Alan Bersten, who hammered me over the head ‘til I got it right! We were in the zone that night which made it all the more bittersweet, but better to go out on a high note… And, we did!
Now we’ve got the upcoming release of box set ‘We Could Be Together’, what should fans expect from that?
A waltz down memory lane at a time where the world is in need of a reminder of the innocence and purity within us all… I think music of that time reconnects us all with that feeling. There are also new remixes and lots of new material that has never been released and may never have a home because I am onto even newer stuff, so I thought this was a great way to gift it to my loyal fans!
Moving forward, what other projects that you’re working on should we expect from you?
I am working on new music first and foremost, and collaborating on two musicals. One of them, Skirts, was a movie I was set to star in in the late 80s and it never happened, but Hillary Carlip and Katie Ford – the original screenwriters – and I, turned it into a musical. We put it aside for many years and are revisiting it! Also, The Flunky, which I am composer on with Jimmy Van Patten who wrote the book and co-wrote the lyrics. It is a dark comedy that takes a look at the phenomenon of fame by association in Hollywood! People abandon their own dreams and get caught up in being flunkies to the stars. I also have a film project in the works and tour dates coming up!
Finally, do you have a message for your fans that have stuck with you for the past 30 years?
Yes! I am absolutely blown away on a daily basis by the love and loyalty I have been shown. And, beyond that, the love for the music, which transcends time and is bigger than all of us. It connects us all and the fact this music which I have been chosen to bring forth into the world, is part of the tapestry of people’s lives is so touching. I am so grateful that we are all here to celebrate this milestone together and look forward to the next 30 years and beyond! Stay ‘Eternally Electric’ everyone!
Debbie Gibson’s ‘We Could Be Together’ – a 10 CD and 3 DVD set packaged in a lavish 12” x 12” coffee table book – is released on October 20.