Debbie Williams is a singer/songwriter from New York who graduated college with degrees in musical theatre and dance. After graduation, she relocated to New York City to pursue her dreams. She released her EP, For This War and For This Home, in September of 2014 and was featured in the Country New and Noteworthy Section of iTunes. Her music can be heard on the radio in the US and online stations. Debbie recently took the time to talk about her latest single, the importance of being a positive role model in her music and what's ahead.
You graduated from SUNY with a degree in musical theatre and a dance minor. Did you originally want to pursue Broadway?
To be honest, when I was really little, like around three, I told my parents that I was either going to sing country music or be on Broadway. I have always loved a variety of music, but country is really where my heart lies. I like telling stories to an audience and having people be affected by my songs in a positive manner.
You have said that you want to be a role model and to make a difference in this world. You want your music to help people realize they aren’t alone in life, that there is good in the world and that we are the good if we let ourselves be. Why is this so important to you?
I’ve worked with kids and taught music and I think a lot of the mainstream music that is out there now isn’t always geared towards children; it’s more geared towards making a profit. I want to make music that encourages positive energy and tells children that even though they’re growing up in a big world, they are not alone. There is so much available to kids these days through social media; they have access to so much more, at such an early age, than I did. I think now more than never they need a positive role model in their lives, especially in music.
Your voice has been described as "having the power of Celine Dion, the tone of Shania Twain and the sass of Alanis Morissette." That's quite a compliment. Are those women artists that you would cite as influences?
After seeing me perform, someone wrote that quote, and somehow it stuck. I like those artists, but I am also a big fan of Jennifer Nettles, Stevie Nicks and Holy Williams. Much of their music is straight from the heart and very natural, with an emphasis on their vocals and not much production.
You play piano and write all of your material. Did you begin playing and writing when you were very young?
I dabbled in writing in high school, but for me, writing mainly began in college. Going to college was a whole different world and writing became an outlet for me. Whenever I felt like I needed to write in a diary, I would sit at the piano, play chords and come up with melodies. It was like a moment of relief for me.
I started playing piano when I was young because my mom said that if I wanted to take voice lessons, I was required to play the piano, which was really a great thing they did for me.
Where do you draw inspiration from when you are writing?
It’s completely different for every song. I think about it as an actor watching a show and I see a relationship affected by a situation and try to relate maybe how a woman feels in that relationship or I come up with a story based on either something that happened to me or a friend or a song could be characters I just decided to make up in a story.
For This War and For This Home was featured on iTunes New and Noteworthy, which must have been very exciting!
I was very surprised to see that! I checked a few days after the release of the album and when I saw that it was on there as New and Noteworthy, I screamed!! When my boyfriend heard me he was like ‘who died?” (laughing) It was just so cool to see and I was so happy!
The extremely emotional title track has an accompanying lyric video. What is the story behind the song?
When I wrote the song it was, for me, about a woman losing her father to illness, but others can also connect with it in relation to their personal losses, for example the loss of a spouse or a loved one.
You have over ten thousand Twitter followers and one thousand Facebook fans. Is interacting with your fans on social media something that is important to you?
It is absolutely important. Artists should want to know their fans and what they like and dislike, at least I think they should. On Twitter, I would follow country music fans and talk to them, offering them a free download of a song; that would then encourage conversation and getting to know one another. I think it’s very important to take the time to say hello to fans who support you and your music. Plus, it's really nice to be able to connect with people around the world!
What are your professional plans for the near future?
In the first half of this year I will be writing a lot, both with and without co-writers and in April I plan to release a new EP. The EP will be more pop, but with a country essence. I will be releasing a new single, “Kissing Booth,” that I will be promoting. I would also love to make a pop/dance video so I can incorporate my dance background into my music. Maybe in the Spring or Summer I will do a Pledge campaign for the new album or even the videos. I like Pledge because they allow you to give a lot back to the fans during the process.
I will also be playing shows in the tri-state area and am planning to head to Nashville and California in the Summer or Fall to perform.
Many country artists eventually make the move to Nashville. Is that something you would consider?
I would definitely consider a move to Nashville or California, to be honest. A move has been in the back of my mind for awhile now, but it would not happen anytime in the next couple of months.
Finally, I always like to know if, in your down time, there is one recent album that you cannot stop listening to?
Oh gosh, what I listen to really depends on my mood. My favorite country release right now is Little Big Town’s Painkiller. I’m pretty obsessed with that album! They’re one of those artists that are even better live than on record. I also love Brandy Clark’s album. I alternate listening between those two.
Pre-order Kissing Booth" here
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