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Take Five with Debora Galan

Debora Galan By

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About Debora Galan
Through performances of the popular Silk band and numerous guest appearances, the voice of R & B/smooth jazz vocalist Debora Galan is becoming widely known. More fans have come on board with the release of her album, All About Love, which shows the depth of her Latin roots. Says the San Diego Troubadour: "With a powerful voice and soul in spades, Debora Galan is a true talent." Jazz Quarterly lauds her "passion, style, charm and equally energetic and delicate tones." The songstress collaborates with major musical figures such as singer/songwriter Stephen Ybarra, pianist Greg Manning, and Greek guitarist Vassillis Sotiriou. An upcoming venture with Christian de Mesones is in the works.

The Spanish singer has performed widely in the Northeastern U.S. and on the West Coast, where she now resides. All About Love, her first CD as a leader is drawing critical praise and capturing considerable airplay. Reacting to the new CD, David Barron of KSDS said, "Love it! Will be playing it often!" while Jay Michaels of Magic 92.5 praises her "beautiful angelic voice." Ron Hamilton of WRJR calls her music "A marriage of jazz and pop, but so much more." Her music goes to East Coast radio in fall of 2017 followed by a European release.

Instrument(s):
Voice and percussion

Teachers and/or influences?
My recent vocal coaches were the late Martin Grusin, Stevie Mackey, and Kevyn Lettau, but it was my ninth grade chorus teacher, Mrs. Nicholson, who told me that I had a gift and who gave me my first solo.

I was born in Brussels and raised in Madrid, surrounded by my extended family: maternal grandparents, aunts, uncles, and sister. Music was a big part of our lives, so my earliest influences were there. Let me tell you we had some awesome family parties! My ancestry is mostly Spanish, but my great grandfather (maternal side) was a Spanish military man. He served in Cuba, married, and had children there before returning to Spain.

My grandfather, Marcelino Alcazar, and mom, Pilar Alcazar, loved to sing, and they often sang at house parties and special family events like weddings and baptisms. They liked to sing Cante Jondo, a flamenco style of singing, which comes from "deep within." My mom was especially fond of Concha Piquer (1908-1990), and sang many of her songs. I'd like to do a show of songs my mom loved and include some pieces popularized by Piquer in the copla form or other styles by composers like Quintero, Leon and Quiroga. Some of the songs I remember are "En Tierra Extrana," and "Ojos Verdes," which you can hear at https://youtu.be/6payhuHbsvg

My mother moved me to Washington, D.C. where I completed elementary school and attended junior and senior high. I attended one year at U.D.C., but it was my last two years of high school that left the greatest impression on me. I attended the School Without Walls on the George Washington University campus. It was very diverse, and I loved the intimacy. I felt the program was really in tune with the kids, and although it was very academic, the entire city was our classroom. Students learned critical thinking and the free exchange of ideas. I have the best memories of that place and the great kids who were there with me.

Living in the U.S., I watched movie musicals starring Barbra Streisand. I also listened to a lot of Anita Baker, Whitney Houston, and Sade. Later, when I got into traditional jazz, I listened to Carmen McRae, Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, and Billie Holiday. I still listen to them as well as contemporary artists like Melody Gardot, Sophie Milman, Robin McKelle, Amy Winehouse, and Adele. I have a pretty eclectic music library.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
The movie A Star is Born with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson did it for me. Later in life, after some years more focused on family than career, I got back on the path by singing in church. On a deeper level, I think I've always known that music was what I was meant to do.

I began singing professionally at age 19 while attending college in Washington, D.C. and working as a waitress at Cafe de Ipanema. It was owned by some family friends, Juan and Maria Alvarez, who now own Mi Rancho restaurants around the District. The club was holding a contest/promotion similar to Star Search, but not enough people were participating. So Juan handed me a glass of Courvoisier and told me to take off my apron and get on stage. My mom had shared with him that I was a good singer and thought that if I performed, others would follow. They did. After that, I was offered the position of lead singer in the house band, Banda de Ipanema. I also performed at Brazilian Sundance, Chelsea's and Christini's. By the way, the Courvoisier worked! A few years later, I married and moved to San Diego.

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