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Take Five with Debora Galan

Debora Galan By

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Another favorite is a song I recorded for the soundtrack to The Passion Play, titled "Wonderful Merciful Savior." I did this with the Escondido SDA Church, where I served for years. The production was beautiful! Pastor Jon Ciccarelli, a phenomenal guitarist and composer, directed it along with Ritchie Carbajal. We recorded in the original chapel, one of the oldest historical buildings in Escondido, California, built in 1887.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
I hope my contribution is to have inspired others through messages of hope through music. I want listeners to go away feeling good, to touch their hearts and make them feel heard even if we've never spoken. There is something so powerful about hearing a song that conveys what you feel when you yourself don't have the words.

Did you know...
Given my heritage, it is probably not so surprising that I love to dance! I think I would have been a dancer had I not started to sing. Particularly salsa.

The first jazz album I bought was:
I don't recall whether it was Manhattan Transfer's The Best of Album (1981) or Al Jarreau's self-titled Jarreau (1983). But Billie Holiday's Love Songs (Columbia Records, 1996) was an important purchase.

Music you are listening to now:
Maysa -Love is a Battlefield -Shanachie Entertainment
Concha Buika -Mi Nina Lola—DRO Atlantic
Concha Buika -Nina de Fuego- -Casa Limon, DRO Atlantic

Desert Island picks
I wouldn't really name any one album of any of these artists because collectively each has such amazing work on more than one recording. I'd probably make my own compilation of their greatest works

Billie Holliday
Sarah Vaughan
Nancy Wilson
Anita O'Day
Barbra Streisand
Concha Buika
Pablo Alboran
Pat Metheny

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
It depends on the flavor you are asking about. Smooth jazz is not as big as it used to be (I'm thinking of David Sanborn, Pat Metheny, and many others back in the day). That's part of my sound, but with my Latin roots. In general, I find that many musicians are writing less original music. There are plenty of uber-talented musicians out there, but if one were to check out the number of remakes compared to truly original music being put out, I think we'd find considerably less original music. It seems we keep rehashing old tunes. There can be a lot of creativity in a remake, but we may be "playing it safe" to avoid risk. Perhaps it's due to the demands of moneymaking and marketing.

As far as traditional Jazz, I am encouraged by some of our local people here in San Diego (Gilbert Castellanos and the Young Lions, and people like Kamau Kenyatta at U.S.D.), who devote so much time and energy to teaching and preserving jazz. Every city needs people like them who teach youth to appreciate and play the classics and develop improvisational skills. I never leave a meeting with Kamau without having learned something from him. He always enriches my experience of jazz by sharing some new music with me or relating a cool experience.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
We need to keep music and the arts in the schools. We also need our communities to provide opportunities to underprivileged children to experience live concerts of all genres, including jazz. I was greatly influenced by being exposed to so much art, culture, and music. My mother had very little formal education, but she took me to places like the Kennedy Center as well as smaller community theaters to see and experience the arts.

What is in the near future?
I currently finished working on a new single that I co- wrote with Greek guitarist Vassilis Sortiriou. The title is, "This is Love."

What is your greatest fear when you perform?
My greatest fear would be forgetting the lyrics or the form of a song. My performance standards are pretty high, because I always want to deliver. I try to eat a healthy diet to avoid that feeling of foggy brain (that can come with my thyroid issues), but I know that occasional lapses can occur, even to divas like Patti Labelle or Ella Fitzgerald. We are all human, no matter how great we are.

What song would you like played at your funeral?
"Beyond Justice to Mercy" by Susan Ashton and the hymn, "How Great Thou Art."

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?
"You Are My Sunshine" (LOL). I purposely sing it off key to make my husband laugh. I end up howling. (ROFL)

By Day
Music is a full-time job for me. The number of recording sessions and performances we have scheduled is awesome, and I'm thankful for that. My most important role is as a wife and family member. I have relatives in the U.S. and Spain and my husband is French-Canadian.

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