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Debra Cowan - Singer and Interpreter of Great Songs, New and Old
Home of Robert Schwartz and Judy Staicer
Lexington, MA
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The Musical Chairs House Concert Series is proud to present:

Debra Cowan - Singer and Interpreter of Great Songs, New and Old

Saturday, May 4, 2019
7:30 PM

Tickets will not be sold at the door.
Please buy your tickets in advance.

The Performer:

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Following a life-long desire to sing and perform, Debra Cowan left her job as a California middle school math teacher in 1997 and went to live in Edinburgh, Scotland for six months. There she learned the art of un-accompanied singing and upon her return to the USA in 1998 began traveling all over New England performing at any open mike within 100 miles of her new home in Springfield, Massachusetts. Almost twenty years later, she is now a full-time performer who bridges the old and new with a refreshing stage presence. She has released five full-length recordings, all of which have earned praise on both sides of the Atlantic. She tours extensively in the United Kingdom and in North America and can also be seen on stage with her good friend, singer and musician John Roberts.

Debra is a proud member of American Federation of Musicians Local 1000 and endorses Harvey Leach guitars. Between travels, she makes her home near Worcester, Massachusetts with her husband and their cats, Hazel and Haku.

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"Stunning" is a word that is often used to describe Debra Cowan's vocals. She performs unaccompanied and with guitar, interpreting a wide range of traditional and contemporary folk songs. Debra's performances impress listeners with her clarity, warmth, agility, all the while encouraging the audience to join in on choruses and refrains. Her four recordings have been met with high praise world-wide and in June 2015, she was featured in the UK folk music magazine, Living Tradition.

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Debra Cowan's wide range of material stems from serious traditional to contemporary bawdy. Usually presented along with informed and informative introduction, song after song flows in a rich quilt of melody.


"We don't take risks at Songbird Sanctuary, but we hosted Debra Cowan without seeing her first, against our number one rule. It was the best hosting decision I ever made, and if you don't believe me, ask our audience who sang on every song." - Tom Yeager, Songbird Sanctuary House Concerts, Houston TX

"Debra has a voice which beautifully combines Celtic and Appalachian sensibilities ... deeply satisfying, lyrical and musically elegant." - Roseanne Cash

"It is truly a gift what she gives her audience." - The Miami Herald

"It's always a treat to hear Debra Cowan ..." - Mitch Park, host "Folk on Sunday", Radio Kidnappers, New Zealand

"Debra really connects with all around her; a capella or accompanied on guitar, she uses her natural magnetism and fabulous, warm alto voice to drive home both traditional and written material ..." - Mick Tems, Folk Wales, UK

" ... a wonderful voice ... Debra has a great voice and a great feel for her material" - Mike Harding, host, "The Mike Harding Folk Show" podcast (UK)

" ... a pleasure to hear a real singer who can apply her beautiful voice to the best material available from traditional songs to those by contemporary songwriters. She sure knows how to interpret a song and wrap her soul and voice around it." - Rich Warren, host, "Midnight Special", WFMT 98.7 FM, Chicago, IL

"She was the meanest teacher in the school!" - former middle school math student

Debra Cowan Biography

Debra Cowan was once asked what kind of songs she writes. Her reply? "Bad ones. Besides, there are so many good songs out there written by others and they should be sung." Her captivating warm alto carries each folk song she chooses with such emotion that you'll forget that they were written by others. She performs a cappella and with guitar in the great tradition of folk singers like Joan Baez and Judy Collins, with a clear vocal that calls forth the ghosts of long past but can also offer a more modern urban landscape. In her 2012 release, a live recording entitled "Among Friends", she demonstrates her ability to interact with her audience and have them enthusiastically sing along on choruses and refrains.

As a young girl she idolized Julie Andrews and in her teens discovered Jethro Tull and Steeleye Span. At the age of 21 she decided to leave the small Midwestern town where she lived. She threw darts at a map and ended up in northern California where she attended college, sang in bars, and eventually worked as a middle school math teacher. A chance encounter with a "mix tape" consisting of John Roberts and Tony Barrand, Lou Killen, Ray Fisher and the Copper family introduced Debra to many of the ballads and songs she had been familiar with previously, but performed in very different ways.

Debra began performing in California 40 years ago and began touring in 1998, with frequent stops in the US and UK, from folk clubs to festivals like the Old Songs Festival in New York and Broadstairs Folk Week in England. That led her to where she is now, a full-time singer who bridges the old and new with a refreshing stage presence - she may start with a moving ballad like "The Rainbow," a profile of one woman's courage, and segue into "Johnny Be Fair," about a poor lass who can't marry anyone in town because, well, she's related to everyone.

Debra's shared the stage and sung with artists as varied as Colum Sands, Tret Fure, and Si Kahn. For the last nine years she has been joining her good friend, John Roberts for a number of tours and on their newest CD, "Ballads Long and Short". She has collaborated with well-known guitarists Brooks Williams, Bill Cooley (Kathy Mattea) and British fiddler Tom Leary. Her third solo recording, "Fond Desire Farewell" was arranged and produced by former Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks and in 2018 they have begun work on a brand new collaboration. She's performed in many prestigious UK venues and for six months in the late 90's held a residency at Sandy Bell's Bar, Edinburgh's premier folk music pub. She has performed many times on nationally syndicated American live radio shows such as WFMT's Folkstage, hosted by Rich Warren, WVBR's Bound For Glory and Tom May's River City Folk.

Her recordings have won high praise from both sides of the Atlantic and her music has been included in many compilation recordings, most notably on the 2006 Free-Reed Records box set "RT-The Life and Times of Richard Thompson" and the 2014 "Dear Jean: Artists Celebrate Jean Ritchie".

Email Debra at dcowan@DebraCowan.com
Phone Debra at (508) 662-9746
Visit her website at http://debracowan.com
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Home of Robert Schwartz and Judy Staicer (View)
6 Patterson Road
Lexington, MA 02421
United States


Music > Folk

Minimum Age: 12
Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: No


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