Debbie and Friends Bring Fun, Authenticity and Talent on Stage and on Screen
I remember first seeing Debbie & Friends perform one year ago at the Regent Theatre in Arlington. We had just launched Ziptivity and both Debbie and the Regent Theatre were gracious enough to invite us to have a Ziptivity table at her show. I remember thinking, “Oh, I wish I had my kids here with me!” Next time, I will.
And that next time is coming up ! Debbie will be performing a special DVD Release concert on Saturday, March 26 – appropriately at the Regent. The Regent holds a special place in Debbie’s heart: they had performed their first show there exactly three years ago, almost to the day! How fitting that this show will have so much meaning – and so much star power! Accompanying Debbie on stage will be none other than Bob McGrath of Sesame Street fame and acclaimed singer Darcel Wilson (just wait until you hear her amazingly powerful voice).
So how does Debbie do it? Well, it comes naturally, I think. You see, music is in her DNA. Her grandfather was the famous Marty Gold, who sadly recently passed away a few months ago. Marty started out as a big band pianist then became a composer and song arranger at RCA. He was her inspiration, saying “He could literally write these arrangements just sitting by the pool.” As soon as she showed interest in music at an early age, the family jumped on it hoping she had some of his genes. Well, they were right.
Debbie went on to become a music educator, spending her undergrad years at none other than Boston’s Berkelee College of Music. Following her studies, Debbie taught in the Gloucester school system. But as her career turned more toward music education publishing, she got pulled further away from kids. Eventually, she became a Dean at Berkelee where she currently works by day.
But how did kids music come back into her life? Well, kids of course – in the form of her nieces and nephews who inspired her to write. She fondly and clearly remembers that one pivotal moment: her nephew, Will, was telling the story of The Three Little Pigs. As he recited the story, she thought, “What if we changed these stories into song?” And the rest is “herstory”!
Debbie & Friends formed three years ago and Debbie is so proud of the close-knit band that has formed. These are people she’s known for years, some from Berklee and one who was even a parent in the Gloucester school system where she taught. I asked her how she chose her mates and she made a very astute point: “People need to be authentic. Kids know right away.”
“So what did you think of your first experience making a DVD?”, I asked her. She replied, “I wanted to make some cartoons as an important component of our music and video library.” So Debbie found a wonderful animator (Planet Sunday) based in Wales of all places – finding him, again of all places, on Craig’s List! Over the years, they have been chipping away at their cartoon catalog. Now they get 2000 hits per week on their Youtube channel.
The DVD indeed has wonderful animation. My children adored the opening two videos, Cinderella (keep your eye out for the Fairy Godfather, all you Marlon Brando fans!) and they also loved Jack and the Beanstalk. The kids even asked for an encore of both when the DVD ended! Debbie included many classic fairy tales including The 3 Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, and Goldilocks. She also included many of her original tracks including Opposite and So, so happy. One of my favorites was Home Run Ronnie, although my son was a bit offended by Ronnie’s uniform: “He’s playing for the ‘Ankees’!” I’m thinking Debbie should add some red to Ronnie’s uniform! 🙂
What I also love about Debbie’s music and her DVD is the educational component. Debbie incorporates repetition and great life lessons in her lyrics. On screen, she delivers Sesame Street-like visuals where children can see the words, such as in Opposite and Hangin’ Around. She smartly concludes her DVD with a live performance – watch your children’s expressions when they realize she’s actually a real person! The closing scenes illustrate why Debbie & Friends are so successful: they are so approachable, allowing the kids to touch their instruments and take photos with them.
Debbie is a warm, appreciative star in the kids music scene. She expresses her gratitude profusely to the families that have come to see them over the past few years saying, “They have been wonderful. I feel very lucky to be able to do this.” Having been a classroom teacher has really helped her to engage with her audience. Her music is like sunshine – the way she sounds is the way she performs: happy, engaging and authentic.
So come on down to the Regent on March 26. Ziptivity will be there – and we are also giving away 5 copies of Debbie & Friends’ DVD as well as a pair of tickets! You must subscribe to ZipNews to be eligible. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more details to follow!
DEBBIE & FRIENDS DVD RELEASE CONCERT (WITH GUEST STARS BOB MCGRATH AND DARCEL WILSON)
When? Saturday, March 26th at 10:30am.
Where? The Regent Theatre is located at 7 Medford Street, Arlington, MA.
Ticket Prices (general admission):
$8.00 – Kids (12 and under)
$8.00 – Seniors
$10.00 – Adults
Don’t wait! Call for tickets 781-646-4849, or order online here.