Dick's Hot Pix
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Dick Hall Productions, Inc.
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Silhouetted in the dim glow of the control room is the singer/songwriter whose signature song, "Baby I Lied," launched a career and a talent, the depths of which the artist herself has yet to fully explore. Booming back at her through the massive bank of speakers is that big voice that belies her tiny frame--a voice that, with eyes closed, she's intent on listening to. Sometimes softly caressing a lyric, other times shimmering with the heat of passion, Deborah Allen's distinctive vocals are like watercolors...streaked and shaded with the influences of the country music of her roots, the Memphis soul of her raising, and the bold strokes of gospel and rock n' roll that have each touched the canvas of this remarkable talent.
The '90's have brought with them her greatest successes yet...but in the beginning:
Deborah Allen was born with a gift of music coursing through her veins--cutting a path in her life as relentlessly as the Mississippi carves through the Memphis of her birth. Before her music encouraged her to pack a bag and set her heart on its' musical odyssey, Deborah can recall a childhood rich in love. The youngest of the three daughters of Leon and Rosetta Thurmond, their dark-haired, hazel eyed, child, from the earliest age, seemed to draw from a well spring of positive, optimistic strengths.
"It just always seemed natural for Deborah to have her positive, happy outlook on life." recalls Rosetta, "We encouraged her from the time she was just a baby to believe she could accomplish whatever she set her heart and mind on in life..."
"I can recall when she was just a tiny little girl, we were riding along one day in the car, and she was singing "No One Ever Loved Me Like Jesus," for me. When she finished, she curled up real close to me on the front seat and announced that she had a secret...that she was going to be a singer and an actress when she got big! I said, "Sugar, you can do that! I had no doubt in my mind that Deborah could!"
With a suitcase full of local talent contests and performance credits in and around Memphis, Deborah headed for Nashville at age 18. Always the romantic adventurer at heart, even the faded rented room in the boarding house on 16th Avenue South that she first call 'home' was full of romance and charm...and, after all, it was close to the very heartbeat of Nashville's famous 'Music Row.'
She smiles at the recollection, her wide eyes dancing with the childlike nature that, even today, is one of Deborah's most enduring charms. "Everyone talks about 'paying your dues' in Nashville. I would come home at night to that little rented room and think to myself...'I am really paying my dues right now! I must be destined to be a big star someday! There I was with literally nothing...but I always had the most important thing of all...and that was my dream."
While working as a waitress to support that dream, a chance encounter to serve a cup of coffee to a legend, started the wheels of Deborah Allen's success train in motion--if slowly at first. Meeting Roy Orbison that day at 'International House Of Pancakes,' Deborah used the opportunity, while pouring coffee, to share her dreams of having a career in the music business. Obviously impressed by the spunk and personality of the young hopeful, Orbison hired her to sing background vocals on his upcoming session. The $90 she was paid might as well have been a million!
Her voice, beauty, and always handy confidence quickly landed her a job at "Opryland" Park, performing as a regular cast member in the show park's production of "Showboat." Showcasing her talents regularly at the park led in quick succession to Deborah being invited to join Tennessee Ernie Ford as a part of a cast production he was taking on tour to the Soviet Union, It proved invaluable experience... When safely back home in the states, the career momentum was now officially picking up speed. Singer/comedian, Jim Stafford, had landed his own summer replacement TV series on ABC, and approached Deborah to be a part of his ensemble cast of young performers.
The opportunity meant a move to Los Angeles, where she would subsequently spend the next two years working with Stafford on television, as well as performing on his concert dates as an opening act. The threads of L.A., perhaps more than anything else up to this point in her life, wove an intricate pattern in Deborah's career, with an impact and an influence still felt in her music today. It was at this point in her life that her natural, inborn gifts of music seemed to merge together and surface in her songwriting.
The remarkable voice that could--between beats of her hear--flow from almost childlike innocence to the very soul of womanhood, was now giving song to words and music straight from the heart of Deborah Allen. Like her singing, her songwriting was touched with every musical influence she had absorbed over the years.
Back in Nashville...veteran songwriting genius, Shel Silverstein, she recalls today, had given her some advice. Considering the sea of pretty faces and great voices vying for their star in the skies over 16th, Silverstein had one word for her that echoed all the way to the West Coast: Write!
In spite of everything it did to influence her, the fast-paced lure and often too-slick music scene in L.A. couldn't take Deborah's soul. Feeling her music had deeper creative roots in her southern heritage, Deborah made her way back to Nashville, and a climate she felt better suited to grow in--both musically and emotionally.
Once re-settled, there was no looking back. Her writing was flourishing by this time, when Deborah was offered an opportunity, best termed "once in a lifetime!" RCA had become aware of her, and felt she was the right voice to overdub tracks recorded by the late country legend, Jim Reeves. On what was at this time a landmark of technical innovation, the label wanted to take the unique step of turning the Reeves tracks into duets with Deborah Allen.
The tracts that resulted from those session burst Deborah onto the national charts, and into the music mainstream. "Don't Let Me Crossover," "Oh How I Miss You Tonight," "Take Me In Your Arms And Hold Me,"...all reached the Top 10 on the charts...proving that Jim Reeves career on record was not yet over, and Deborah Allen's was about to begin.
Word was out along the hallowed corridors of Music Row that here was a talent with the potential of full blown stardom… Signed to Capitol Records, her first album release, Trouble In Paradise, received wide critical acclaim. At a crucial time in her still fledgling development as an artist, an executive shift at her label locked her next release in the vaults of corporate change. Included in that session was a song called "Baby I Lied" which Deborah had co-written with Rafe Van Hoy and Rory Burke.
Impressed with the potential they saw at Capitol, RCA picked up Deborah's session masters, signing her, and immediately releasing "Baby I Lied." On its way to becoming a major country hit, the song crossed over to the pop charts, achieving major success. When the smoke cleared, Deborah Allen was a major new star in both spectrums of music, as well as the recipient of two Grammy Award nominations.
Her follow-up Cheat The Night album project, kept her success gaining momentum...
Her next album for RCA, Let Me Be The First, lived up to the promise of the title. Coming on the heels of her CMA Horizon Award nomination as Best New Artist, and two more major follow-up singles--"I've Been Wrong Before," and "I Hurt For You"--the Let Me Be The First, album was the first all-digital album to be recorded and produced in Nashville. Her next album, Telepathy, broadened Deborah Allen even further as an artist who defied the normal restraints of limitations on her music.
While establishing herself as a major recording artist, Deborah's incredible string of successes as a songwriter was fast establishing her as one of the hottest young writers in Nashville. By this time, major cuts had come on her material from artists as diverse as Diana Ross, Loretta Lynn, Sheena Easton, Lee Greenwood, Mac Davis, Barbara Mandrel, John Conlee, and Janie Fricke, with Deborah's first #1 as a writer, "Don't Worry 'Bout Me Baby."
Her first album release for Giant Records Delta Dreamland, in '92 included the Top 20 single, "Rock Me," and "If You're Not Gonna Love Me," marked a re-emergence of Deborah Allen on the charts. Now well into the '90's, perhaps never had the heart of this remarkable young woman laid any more bare than on her All That I Am album for Giant. Both in the passionate intensity of her singing and the lyrical beauty of her songwriting, here indeed was the heart of Deborah Allen.
"I've always said my music is a real mix of Nashville and Memphis," Deborah reflects. "I feel that one town gave me the roots musically, and the other has given me wings creatively..." In getting her wings, Deborah has grown as a consummate singer, writer, and performer.
Onstage today, her warmth and natural love of performing shines in the spotlight--whether through her high-energy presence, or her reflective moments onstage with her audience.
The '90's too, have brought with them her greatest successes as a writer. In '96, teenage sensation, LeAnn Rimes' Blue album carried two Deborah Allen songs to double platinum status--with both "Hurt Me," and "My Baby," included. LeAnn's next Curb album, On Top Of The World, released in Spring '98, contained three more Deborah Allen songs.
A major portion of Deborah's musical catalogue was acquired by Curb in 1996. She has since become one of their hottest creative properties, with her own single "Is It Love Yet" released in January of 1999, with the full album to soon follow.
Musically, Deborah Allen remains as current as tomorrow morning's newspaper...she has never stopped growing musically, never lost that "first love" feeling for the music that come to her as naturally as her next breath… The result is quite simply the musical genius of a little girl from Memphis who had a dream of making music...and the music within her to make that dream come true.
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