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Debbie Gibson
Debbie Gibson adjusted.jpg
Gibson in 2008
Background information
Birth name Deborah Ann Gibson
Born (1970-08-31) August 31, 1970 (age 52)
Long Island, New York, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Singer-songwriter
  • record producer
  • actress
  • television personality
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active 1986–present
Labels

Deborah Ann Gibson (born August 31, 1970) is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, record producer and actress.

Gibson released her debut album Out of the Blue in 1987, which spawned several international hits, later being certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. One of those singles, "Foolish Beat", made Gibson the youngest female artist to write, produce, and perform a Billboard Hot 100 number-one single. Her double-platinum second album Electric Youth (1989), gave Gibson another U.S. number-one hit with "Lost in Your Eyes". Gibson is the sole songwriter on all of her singles to reach the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. She was recognized by ASCAP as Songwriter of the Year, along with Bruce Springsteen, in 1989.

Gibson continued to record and release music throughout the 1990s and 2000s. In 2006, she reached number 24 on the U.S. adult contemporary chart with "Say Goodbye", a duet with Jordan Knight, and in 2017 achieved her highest-charting hit in more than 25 years in her duet with Sir Ivan, "I Am Peaceman". Gibson's 2020 single "Girls Night Out" became her first top five and highest-charting hit after 30 years. In addition to music, she has gone on to starring roles on Broadway and touring musicals, including playing Eponine in Les Misérables and Sandy in Grease, as well as television and independent film work.

Early life

Gibson was born on Long Island, New York, the third of Diane (née Pustizzi) and Joseph Gibson's four daughters. Her father, who enjoyed singing, was originally named Joseph Schultz and was orphaned as a boy; his biological mother married a man with the surname Gibson before putting Joseph into an orphanage. Gibson grew up in suburban Merrick, New York, on Long Island. She describes herself as of "Italian/Sicilian and part German and possibly some Russian" descent. She studied piano under American pianist Morton Estrin.

Gibson is a graduate of Sanford H. Calhoun High School.

Music career

In 1983, Gibson submitted a cassette recording of her original composition "I Come From America" to WOR for the station's song contest. After she won a cash prize of US$1,000 from the contest, her mother convinced a relative to loan her US$10,000 to convert the family garage into a recording studio.

1986–1989

Debbie Gibson
Gibson in the late 1980s, the first years of her music career

After years of writing and producing her own material, a demonstration tape of Gibson's submitted to a radio personality was eventually shared with an executive at Atlantic Records. Based solely on Gibson's original song, "Only in My Dreams", she was signed to a development deal and began a promotional tour of club venues throughout the United States.

Gibson spent much of 1986 and the beginning of 1987 building her songwriting catalog, while continuing to play club dates. During her promotional tour, Gibson continued attending classes at Calhoun High School in Merrick, New York, where she later graduated as an honor student. Diane Gibson, Debbie's mother and manager, accompanied her daughter on many of these track dates.

The "Only in My Dreams" single release landed the song within the Billboard Hot 100 reaching a peak of number 4 on that chart. Atlantic Records and Gibson began the process of completing the first album as a result of the good showing by the single. Along with producer Fred Zarr, Gibson wrote, recorded, and produced her first album Out of the Blue in only four weeks.

Following the success of "Only In My Dreams", "Shake Your Love" was released as the follow-up single and reached the Billboard top five. The "Shake Your Love" video was choreographed by Paula Abdul and was the first time MTV had visited Gibson on a video shoot.

In 1987, while performing at nightclub venues throughout the United States, Gibson was recording her debut album, Out of the Blue. It was finished within four weeks. Four singles from the album reached the top five of the Hot 100 chart: "Only in My Dreams", "Shake Your Love", "Out of the Blue", and the number-one hit "Foolish Beat", followed by "Staying Together", which performed more modestly, reaching number 22. "Foolish Beat" set a record for Gibson, making her (at 16) the youngest artist ever to have written, produced, and performed a Billboard number-one single, as entered in the 1988 Guinness Book of World Records. She remains the youngest female artist to have done so. Out of the Blue was established as a hit album, and she had success in the UK and southeast Asia, filling stadiums with her Out of the Blue tour. By the end of 1988, Out of the Blue had gone triple platinum.

The music video compilation Out of the Blue was certified platinum by the RIAA; the concert tour video was certified double platinum. In October 1988, Gibson sang the national anthem for Game 1 of the Major League Baseball World Series.

Electric Youth was released in early 1989 and spent five weeks at number one on the Billboard 200. The first single released, "Lost in Your Eyes", was number one on the Hot 100 for three weeks, garnering her another achievement as the youngest female to have both an album and single simultaneously at number one. She shared the 1989 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Award with Bruce Springsteen. Subsequent singles from the album were "Electric Youth" (number 11), "No More Rhyme" (number 17), and "We Could Be Together" (number 71). The Electric Youth album was certified double platinum by the RIAA. The successful Electric Youth world tour and Live Around the World VHS (double platinum) followed.

1990–2001

She recorded two more albums for Atlantic Records: Anything Is Possible (1990) and Body, Mind, Soul (1993). The former's title song, co-written with Motown mainstay Lamont Dozier, peaked at number 26 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1991. Subsequent singles from Anything Is Possible failed to chart on the Hot 100, although "One Step Ahead" scored on the Hot Maxi Singles and Hot Dance charts, peaking at numbers 21 and 18, respectively.

During this time, Gibson was part of the supergroup that recorded the charity single "Voices That Care", which peaked at number 11 on the Hot 100 chart.

In 1992, she contributed a version of "Sleigh Ride" to the charity album A Very Special Christmas 2 which hit #7 on the Billboard album chart and was certified Double Platinum for shipment of two million copies.

In 1995, she signed with EMI's SBK Records division and recorded her only album for the label, Think with Your Heart. It was an adult contemporary-heavy album consisting of piano and keyboard ballads recorded predominantly with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The album's producer, Niko Bolas, who was usually Neil Young's co-producer, was producing the reunion album for Circle Jerks (a veteran punk band) and invited Gibson to a recording session for that band's album. She sang background vocals on the song "I Wanna Destroy You", as well as appearing at and participating in the Circle Jerks' performance at the punk venue CBGB wearing one of the band's T-shirts and sharing a microphone with frontman Keith Morris.

In 1998, she sang the song, "I Do", which is featured on the soundtrack to the film, The ... Man. The lyrics to the song were composed by the co-writer of the film, Ethan Coen. The soundtrack has never been released.

After parting company with EMI, Gibson formed her own record label, Espiritu, to release her original material. Her sixth album, Deborah (1997), marked her full return to pop. Deborah includes the lead single "Only Words". "Only Words" (Dance Edit) became a Top-40 Hot Dance Music/Club Play hit. The album's other single was the ballad "Naturally". Though it only sold 20,000 in the US, Deborah remains well-respected.

In 2001, she released her seventh album on her new record label, Golden Egg, titled M.Y.O.B. It featured three singles: the sensual pop song "What You Want", the Latin-infused dance-pop song "Your Secret", and the bass-heavy "M.Y.O.B." Highlights from the album include the sultry Latin-flavored smooth jazz song "In Blue", a vintage-style ballad "Wishing You Were Here", "Jaded", and a remix of "M.Y.O.B." with the background vocals of her two nieces.

2005–2009

In 2005, Gibson co-wrote and recorded a song titled "Someone You Love" with the O'Neill Brothers. With the brothers, she released an updated, acoustic version of her number-one hit "Lost in Your Eyes". An Emmy-nominated PBS special aired in 2005.

In 2006, Gibson went on tour with the O'Neill Brothers for "Someone You Love Tour" in 2006. "Lost in Your Eyes" was revamped with an acoustic sound and a song "Someone You Love" was written and performed by Gibson and the O'Neill Brothers. These two songs also appeared on the O'Neill Brothers album Someone You Love.

She had a resurgence of popularity in niche markets. Her single "Your Secret" came back from its dormant state and became popular on some radio stations, including Super 91.7 WMPH in Wilmington, Delaware. "Your Secret" has been on their request show, Total Control Radio, for 12 months; it reached No. 1 on its third week on that station's chart in May 2006. It charted along with a few of her other singles, "M.Y.O.B." and "Only Words" (Dance Edit), the Eurodance mix. They all have become recurrent hits on WMPH.

The 2006 single, "Say Goodbye", featuring dance-pop artist Jordan Knight, made an impression in the Soft AC and Hot AC radio formats, becoming the third-most added single during summer, 2006. It debuted at number 35 on the Hot Contemporary chart, peaking at number 24 in early September. The same year, Gibson appeared in the independent film Coffee Date with Wilson Cruz and Jonathan Silverman and provided a soundtrack song called "Sounds Like Love".

On November 14, 2006, Gibson released the song "Famous" on her official website. The song was written by Gibson and Tiziano Lugli and was produced by Lugli.

In May 2007, the world premiere of Electric Youth: The Musical was unveiled at the Starlight Theatre in Orlando, Florida. The musical featured 14 of Gibson's songs and was directed by Dean Parker. On August 24, 2007, Gibson and Frankie Avalon hosted Time-Life Presents Dick Clark's American Bandstand 50th Anniversary Collection.

Debbie Gibson LA Pride 2007
Debbie Gibson at LA Pride 2007

In September 2007, Gibson considered creating a camp on the West Coast. She is the founder and creator of Camp Electric Youth, a children's summer day camp, which ran from July 7–18, 2008. It claims to be the first camp of its kind in the Los Angeles area. The camp was reportedly attended by "over 120 talented singers, actors, and dancers" from around the world.

Gibson was a judge for the online talent competition, Total Pop Star, along with Andrew Van Slee (producer and judge) and Joey Lawrence (from Blossom). The first season ran from November 12, 2007 – May 30, 2008, though it was later extended to June. The show ended abruptly during its second season.

In May 2008, Gibson performed her 1980s hits, along with her Broadway role songs, during a three-run week at Harrah's in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

She later appeared on the April 2008 cover of Lavender Magazine and was interviewed about her career and upcoming projects. Then on the 24th, Gibson hosted and performed on Spotlightlive '80s Karaoke Experience in New York singing songs such as "Only in My Dreams", "Out of the Blue", "Love Shack" (an original hit for the B-52's) and "9 to 5". She performed with Samantha Fox, Tiffany, & Rick Astley at the Colisée Pepsi in Quebec City, Canada, on April 10, 2009.

On March 9, 2009, Gibson released a new song called "Already Gone" on her official website and reverberation, written by Gibson and produced by Fred Coury. It was accompanied by a music video, released on March 13, 2009, produced by Guy Birtwhistle and directed by John Knowles, which starred Birtwhistle, Gibson, and Steve Valentine.

2010–present

In January 2010, an unofficial clip named "Cougar" was uploaded on YouTube. She also became a spokesperson for Murad's Resurgence Skin Care and plays piano and sings a line of the song called "Cougar".

Gibson's song "Rise", from the documentary 3 Billion and Counting, was included on the shortlist for an Academy Award for Best Song in a Film in 2010. In the summer of 2011, she released Rise on iTunes, and also performed it on Good Morning America in New York.

Gibson performed as Mother Nature in Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy at Foxwoods/MGM Casino from July 27 to September 1, 2010.

In 2010, the album Ms. Vocalist, released via Sony Japan, reached the Top 10 on the Japanese Billboard chart. Gibson covered J-Pop tunes for the album that were originally sung by Japanese artists such as Chage and Aska ("Say Yes"), Yutaka Ozaki ("I love you"), Sekaiju no Dareyori Kitto (by Miho Nakayama and WANDS) among others, plus Japanese/English version of her number-one hit "Lost in Your Eyes" and a duet with Eric Martin. The first single from the album, "I Love You", hit No. 1 on the international cable radio chart. On November 3, 2010, "I Love You", the first single from her 2010 album , reached number one

In January 2011, Gibson wrote, performed, and produced the song "Snake Charmer" for the film Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.

During the summer of 2011 Gibson toured with fellow 1980s pop princess Tiffany Darwish. In June 2011, Gibson appeared in Katy Perry's music video "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" alongside several other guest stars.

On August 27, 2016, Gibson starred in an original Hallmark Channel film, Summer of Dreams, about a former pop star, trying to make a comeback, who finds herself better suited as a school's choir director. She also recorded a song titled "Wonderland" for the film.

In June 2017, Billboard Gibson achieved her highest-charting hit in more than 25 years in her duet with Sir Ivan on "I Am Peaceman", which hit number 26 on the Billboard Dance Club chart.

In June 2018, Gibson appeared in the music video of American heavy-metal band Voices of Extreme's cover version of "Foolish Beat".

In March 2019, Gibson hosted a special program on SiriusXM Radio's '80s on 8 channel to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her Electric Youth album, during which she played each song from the album in sequence, accompanied by personal stories surrounding each song.

On May 2, the Mixtape Tour commenced in Cincinnati, Ohio. Performers on this tour include Gibson, Tiffany, Salt-N-Pepa, and Naughty by Nature, with New Kids on the Block billed as the headline performers. The tour grossed $53.2 million and sold 662,911 tickets over 55 dates.

On June 7, 2019, Gibson released a new pop anthem "Girls Night Out". The music video for "Girls Night Out" was shot in Las Vegas, Nevada. The song peaked at number four on the Billboard Dance Club chart.

On August 20, 2021, Gibson released the album The Body Remembers, her first studio recording of original songs since M.Y.O.B.. It contained a new version of "Lost in Your Eyes" with Joey McIntyre.

Theatre

Gibson debuted on Broadway in 1992, playing Eponine in Les Misérables. She then went to London and starred as Sandy in Grease—a role for which 800 other people tried out before producers chose Gibson—in a West End production. The show broke box office sales records. The single version of "You're the One That I Want", a duet with Craig McLachlan, taken from the original cast recording, reached number 13 on the UK Singles Chart in 1993.

On returning to the States, she appeared in the Broadway touring production, this time playing Rizzo. She played Fanny Brice in a revamped Funny Girl tour. She has had many successful theatre credits; she was among the many actresses who took the starring role of Belle in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. She replaced Kerry Butler in September 1997 and was in the show until June 1998, when Kim Huber then succeeded her. She also starred in the critically lauded production of Gypsy (in a production staged at the Paper Mill Playhouse). Gibson starred as Louise opposite Broadway legend Betty Buckley. She participated in the national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, where she played the Narrator, and starred as Cinderella in the national tour of Rodgers & Hammerstein's musical with Eartha Kitt as the Fairy Godmother. In October 2002, she starred as Velma Kelly in the Boston production of Chicago. In 2003, she played Sally Bowles in the Broadway revival of Cabaret. From March to April 2004, she played the role of Marta in the UCLA Reprise! production of Company.

Gibson starred as Anna Leonowens in Cabrillo Music Theatre's production of the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical The King and I, which began October 17, 2008, in the Kavli Theatre at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and ran through October 26.

Film and television

Gibson co-hosted Nickelodeon's first Kids' Choice Awards in 1988, alongside Tony Danza, Brian Robbins, and Dan Schneider.

Gibson co-starred with actor Lorenzo Lamas in the low-budget action/adventure film Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus, produced by The Asylum and released on May 19, 2009. The film drew in 2 million viewers on Syfy in 2009. Its trailer became a viral hit, scoring over one million hits on MTV.com and YouTube. The film premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Gibson's former music rival Tiffany had her film Necrosis (or Blood Snow) premiere at the Cannes, as well. Gibson and Tiffany starred in a Syfy original movie entitled Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, aired on January 29, 2011. The pairing was suggested by Tiffany, who wanted to play-off their supposed rivalry. Gibson reprised her role as Emma McNeil in the 2014 film Mega Shark Versus Mecha Shark.

She starred in the UP TV movie called The Music in Me alongside Gloria Reuben in 2015. The film also featured an original song called "Promises", written and performed by Gibson.

In mid-2003, Gibson was a judge on the American Idol spin-off American Juniors, which lasted one season. In January 2006, she joined the cast of Skating with Celebrities on Fox Television, partnered with Canadian former world-champion figure skater Kurt Browning. She was voted out in the third episode.

Gibson competed on the fifth season of The Celebrity Apprentice, which began airing on February 19, 2012. On the fourth task, she won $50,000 for her charity, Children International. Gibson was fired on April 1, 2012, in the seventh task because she had brought in the least amount of money between her teammates in the boardroom, Dayana Mendoza and Teresa Giudice. While both Mendoza and Giudice were arguably weaker candidates going forward, given that Mendoza was cited as the women's weakest link and Giudice had failed the task as project manager, Gibson was fired, instead.

In 2017, Gibson was one of the celebrities competing on the 25th season of Dancing with the Stars. She was paired with first-time pro-dancer, Alan Bersten. On September 26, 2017, Gibson and Bersten were the second couple eliminated coming in 12th place.

In September 2018, Gibson starred in the Hallmark Channel film Wedding of Dreams, a sequel to 2016's Summer of Dreams.

In 2019 and 2020, Gibson was a judge on Nickelodeon's America's Most Musical Family.

Gibson made a guest appearance on season 5 episode 10 of the Netflix series Lucifer, which premiered on May 28, 2021. In the episode titled "Bloody Celestial Karaoke Jam", she plays a mother who sings "Every Breath You Take" with Lucifer (Tom Ellis).

Image and influence

In tandem with the second album, she created a perfume called Electric Youth that was distributed by Revlon, as well as other makeup essentials for young girls that were distributed nationwide through Natural Wonder Cosmetics. Gibson's trademark was her hats, usually a black pork-pie style. She also made popular wearing tight, rolled-up jeans, vests over a T-shirt, friendship bracelets and two Swatch watches as on the back cover of her popular album Electric Youth and in her music video "Staying Together". Her influences were Madonna and Olivia Newton-John, though she has often stated she admires Elton John and Billy Joel as favorite artists and was asked to sing and perform live with both at the former's Madison Square Garden concert, which she did. Gibson appeared on the covers of numerous teen magazines such as Tiger Beat.

Personal life

Gibson was once engaged to Jonathan Kanterman and was in a relationship with Rutledge Taylor from 2008 to 2019.

In 2014, in response to fans' concern about her weight loss, Gibson stated she had developed symptoms of Lyme disease in early 2013.

Discography

  • Out of the Blue (1987)
  • Electric Youth (1989)
  • Anything Is Possible (1990)
  • Body, Mind, Soul (1993)
  • Think with Your Heart (1995)
  • Deborah (1997)
  • M.Y.O.B. (2001)
  • Colored Lights: The Broadway Album (2003)
  • Ms. Vocalist (2010)
  • The Body Remembers (2021)
  • Winterlicious (2022)

Filmography

Awards and nominations

  • 1988: Billboard Year-End - Top Pop Album Artist Female
  • 1989: Debut Album of the Year – Out of the Blue – New York Music Awards
  • 1989: Debut Artist of the Year – New York Music Awards
  • 1989: ASCAP Songwriter of the Year (tied with Bruce Springsteen)
  • 1989: Nominated for Best Pop Female Vocalist – American Music Awards
  • 1989: Billboard Year-End - Top Pop Album Artist Female (runner-up)
  • 1990: Nominated Favorite Female Music Performer – People's Choice Awards
  • 1990: Rock Producer of the Year – American Songwriter Awards
  • 1990: Artist of the Year – New York Music Awards
  • 1990: Song of the Year – "Lost in Your Eyes" – New York Music Awards
  • 1990: Best Pop Female Vocalist – New York Music Awards
  • 2014: Inductee – Long Island Music Hall of Fame
  • 2015: Nominated for Best Supporting Actress (comedy) in Acting Dead Indie Series Awards
  • 2015: Lifetime Achievement Award – The PATH Fund's Rockers on Broadway
  • 2018: 425th Golden Palm Star – Palm Springs Walk of Stars
  • 2018: Named one of Billboard's Top 60 Female Artists of All-Time
  • 2019: Recipient of the NGLCC / American Airlines ExtrAA Mile Award
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