Deborah Ann "Debbie" Gibson (born August 31, 1970) is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, actress, and former reality television competitor.
In 1988 she was pronounced the youngest artist to write, produce, and perform a No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, with her song "Foolish Beat". She has gone on to starring roles on Broadway and touring musicals, as well as independent film and television work. She continues to record, and reached the adult contemporary chart as high as No. 24 during 2006 in a duet with Jordan Knight titled "Say Goodbye".
Debbie Gibson was born in Brooklyn, New York, the third daughter of four for Diane and Joseph Gibson. She grew up in the Long Island suburb of Merrick and was raised Catholic. At age 5, she began performing in community theater with her sisters Karen, Michele, and Denise, and cousin T.J. Normandin and wrote her first song, "Make Sure You Know Your Classroom". At age eight, she sang in the children's chorus at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. She began playing the ukulele and taking piano lessons soon after, including with American pianist Morton Estrin. She said that her household was probably the only one where bystanders would hear kids fighting over piano playing time.
After years of writing and producing her own material, Gibson finally found her demo in the hands of a radio personality who eventually shared it 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. Continuing her promotional tour, Gibson also continued attending classes at Calhoun High School in Merrick, NY, where she would later graduate as an honor student. Diane Gibson, Debbie's mother and manager, accompanied her daughter on many of these track dates. "We played dance clubs, straight clubs and gay clubs," Diane has said.
The promotional pressing of "Only in my Dreams" landed the song within the Billboard Hot 100. Atlantic Records signed Gibson to a recording contract and thus began the process of completing what would be the first record.
Gibson, along with producer Fred Zarr, wrote, recorded and produced her first album "Out of the Blue" in only 4 weeks. Now having something to market, "Only in My Dreams" was selected as Debbie's 1st single. This time, "Dreams" found traction on Top 40 radio and reached a peak of No. 4 on the Hot 100 chart.
Following the success of "Dreams", "Shake Your Love" was released as the follow-up single and reached the Billboard Top 5. The "Shake Your Love" video was choreographed by Paula Abdul and was the 1st time MTV had visited Debbie on a video shoot.
In 1987, while performing around the United States at nightclub venues, Gibson was recording what would become her debut album, Out Of The Blue. It was recorded in four weeks. Four singles from the album reached the Top 5 of the Hot 100 chart: "Only in My Dreams", "Shake Your Love", "Out Of The Blue", and the No. 1 hit "Foolish Beat", followed by "Staying Together", which performed more modestly, reaching No. 22. "Foolish Beat" set a record for Gibson, making her (at 17) the youngest artist ever to write, produce, and perform a Billboard No. 1 single, as entered in the 1988 Guinness Book of World Records, and she remains the youngest female artist to do 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 Out Of The Blue music video compilation was certified platinum by the RIAA; the concert tour video was certified 2x platinum. In October 1988, Gibson sang the national anthem for Game One of the Major League Baseball World Series.
Electric Youth was released in early 1989, and spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Top 200 Album chart. The first single released, "Lost in Your Eyes", was No. 1 on the Hot 100 for three weeks, garnering her another achievement as the first female to have both an album and single simultaneously at No. 1. (She shared the 1989 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Award with Bruce Springsteen.) Subsequent singles from the album were "Electric Youth" (No. 11), "No More Rhyme" (No. 17), and "We Could Be Together" (No. 71). The Electric Youth album was certified 2x platinum by the RIAA. The successful "Electric Youth" world tour and Live Around the World VHS (2x platinum) followed. In 1988, Debbie sang "Don't Flirt with Me".
Style and influence:
In tandem with the second album, she created a perfume called Electric Youth that was distributed by Revlon, and other makeup essentials for young girls that were distributed nationwide through Natural Wonder Cosmetics, another of her sponsors at the time, among the first of artists to do so. Debbie's trademark was her hats, usually black bowlers. She also made tight, rolled-up jeans and wearing vests over your T-shirt, friendship bracelets, and two Swatch watches popular as she is clearly seen wearing on the back cover of her popular Electric Youth album and in her "Staying Together" music video. 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 and did sing and perform live with Billy Joel and John at Elton John's Madison Square Garden show. She appeared on the covers of numerous teen magazines such as Tiger Beat.
She recorded two more albums for Atlantic Records: Anything Is Possible (1990) and Body Mind Soul (1993). "Anything Is Possible," co-written with Motown mainstay Lamont Dozier, peaked at No. 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 No. 21 and No. 18 respectively. Body Mind Soul spawned another minor hit in "Losin' Myself," which was accompanied by a somewhat controversial video clip, which Matthew Rolston directed, that featured Gibson as a stripper. The second single from the album, "Shock Your Mama", would become a minor hit in Europe and the UK; however, "Losin' Myself" remains Debbie Gibson's last appearance on the Billboard Hot 100.
During this time, Gibson was part of the supergroup that recorded the charity single "Voices That Care" which peaked at No. 11 on the Hot 100 chart.
In 1995, she signed with EMI's SBK Records division and recorded what would be 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 veteran punk band Circle Jerks, 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 punk venue CBGB, wearing one of the band's T-shirts and sharing a microphone with frontman Keith Morris.
After parting company with EMI, Gibson formed her own record label, Espiritu, to release her original material. Her sixth album, Deborah (1996), marked her full return to dance-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.---i.e. Mind Your Own Business. 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.
In 2005, Gibson co-wrote and recorded a song titled "Someone You Love" with the O'Neill Brothers. With the O'Neill Brothers, she released an updated, acoustic version of her No. 1 hit "Lost in Your Eyes". There was an Emmy-nominated PBS special in 2005.
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 March 2005 issue of Playboy featured a nude pictorial of Gibson, coinciding with the release of her single, "Naked". She has said that the magazine had asked her five times to pose for them since she turned 18. She agreed to pose in an effort to revamp her image, describing how one casting call called her agent, not realizing that Gibson had long since outgrown her teenage image. The single peaked at No. 35 on the Billboard Hot Single Sales chart in March 2005.
In November 2005, it was announced that Debbie would go 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 Debbie and The O'Neill Brothers and also these two songs appeared on The O'Neill Brothers album "Someone you love".
The 2006 single, "Say Goodbye," featuring dance-pop artist Jordan Knight, has made a good impression on the Soft AC and Hot AC radio formats, becoming the third-most added single on the format during summer 2006. It debuted at No. 35 on the Hot Contemporary chart, peaking at No. 24 in early September through late November. 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 the recording was produced by Lugli.
On March 5, 2009, Gibson announced via YouTube video blog that she would be releasing a new song/video called "Already Gone". Released on her official website and reverberation, the song was released first on March 9, 2009, then the video on March 13, 2009. The song was written by Gibson and produced by Fred Coury. It was accompanied by a music video produced by Guy Birtwhistle and directed by John Knowles, which starred Birtwhistle, Gibson, and Steve Valentine.
Gibson gave a sneak peek of a new song on June 5, 2009 through her YouTube video blog uploaded herself.
In January 2010, an unofficial clip "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"
It was announced on her official website that "I Love You", the first single from her newest album Ms Vocalist, is No. 1 on the international cable radio charts for the week of November 3. Debbie covered J-Pop tunes for the Ms Vocalist album that were originally sung by Japanese artists like Chage and Aska (Say Yes), Yutaka Ozaki (I love you), Sekaiju no Dareyori Kitto (by Miho Nakayama & WANDS) among others, plus Japanese/English version of her hit No. 1 song Lost in your eyes and a duet with Eric Martin. The first official music video from the new album is "I Love You" which was released on Gibson Official YouTube site on October 19, 2010.
Gibson announced in November 2010 that she would be doing an "DG Live From the Living Room" on "Stageit.com on December 1, 2010. This concert sold out. Here is the setlist she performed: "Heart Of The Matter" by Don Henley, Rich Girl, I dreamed a dream, Coming home, medley of: Another Brick Falls, Deep Down, Helplessly in Love, We Could Be Together, "The Rose", "You don't have to see" and brief news about upcoming album 2011 -(as of December 2011 no album), then concluded the encore with "Silent Night"
Her song "Rise", from the forthcoming documentary 3 Billion and Counting, was included on the short list 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.
In January 2011, Gibson wrote, performed and produced the song "Snake Charmer" for the film Mega Python vs. Gatoroid which is available on iTunes.
Also clips of "Rise", "Cougar", and "Don't Wake Me" are available on her official site after the site was revamped.
Throughout many TV/press and internet related interviews, Gibson has confirmed that she is working on a studio album of new material and would like to do a Christmas album. There is no official confirmation when either album will be released.
Gibson continues to tour and has become a popular attraction at gay pride parades and various charity and music festivals around the US.
On May 2007 the world premiere of Electric Youth: The Musical was unveiled at The Starlight Theatre in Orlando, FL. The musical featured 14 of Gibsons'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.
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 Nov 12, 2007 - May 30, 2008, though it was later extended to June. The show ended abruptly during the 2nd season.
In January 2008, Gibson announced that she would revive and perform her 1980s hits--along with her Broadway role songs--during a three-run week in May 2008 at Harrah's in Atlantic City.
She later appeared on the April 2008 cover of Lavender Magazine (a GLBT magazine in Minnesota) and was interviewed about her career and upcoming projects. Then on the 24th, Gibson hosted and performed on Spotlightlive 80's 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 Colisee Pepsi in Quebec City, Canada on April 10, 2009.
She performed as Mother Nature in Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy at Foxwoods/MGM Casino from July 27 to September 1, 2010.
On April 18, 2011, Gibson confirmed via Twitter that she will be touring with fellow 1980s pop princess Tiffany during the summer of 2011. Tiffany also made the announcement via the New York Post.
In June 2011, Gibson appeared in Katy Perry's music video "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" alongside several other guest stars.
In 2010, the album Ms. Vocalist, from Sony Japan was Top 10 on the Japanese Billboard chart and the first single from the album, "I Love You", hit No. 1.
Deborah Gibson debuted on Broadway in 1992, playing Eponine in Les Misérables. She then went to London and starred as Sandy in Grease--a role 800 other girls tried out for 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 No. 13 on the UK charts 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 theater 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 July 1997 and was in the show until 1998 when she was then succeeded by Kim Huber. She also starred the critically lauded production of Gypsy (in a production staged at The Paper Mill Playhouse). She 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 part of 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.
On January 6, 2008, Gibson appeared on Deal or No Deal along with Corey Feldman as part of a 1980s special.
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 (a.k.a. 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 made a cameo appearance in the 2012 film Rock of Ages in the ("We're Not Gonna Take It"/"We Built This City") face-off.
Gibson reprised her role as Emma McNeil in the 2014 film Mega Shark Versus Mecha Shark.
She starred in the UPTV movie called "The Music in Me" alongside with Gloria Reuben in 2015. The movie also featured an original song 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 former Canadian 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.
Over the years, Gibson has been the target of stalkers. Robert Bardo, who was convicted for murdering actress Rebecca Schaeffer in 1989, had a wall in his house adorned with pictures of Gibson and Tiffany. In May 1998, Michael Falkner, a disgruntled fan from Eau Claire, WI, was arrested outside Manhattan's Palace Theater, where Gibson was performing in the live musical adaptation of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. This was after Gibson received threatening letters, emails and faxes from Falkner, who used the alias 'Starcade'. However, a temporary restraining order was not issued by the court, and a court date was set to determine if a restraining order was appropriate in the matter. The proceeding was dismissed when Gibson failed to show up at the courthouse for the hearing to present her case.
Gibson is single, but was once engaged to Jonathan Kanterman.
Gibson has been battling Lyme Disease since early 2013.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license