Powerhouse Vocals from Deb Bowman Give Us a “Fast Heart”

Deb Bowman CD

It’s a myth that the human heart has a finite number of beats. This is stellar news because it gives us lots of time to enjoy Deb Bowman’s new release “Fast Heart.”

Inspired by a long-ago love affair and dedicated to the memory of her sister, the album is proof positive that Bowman is a master of phrasing and timing. In “Moody’s Mood for Love” she pulls back and holds it just a wee bit, then runs forward in small, quick steps. With an incredible range that’s never forced and always softly and cleanly on pitch, she adds humor to her storytelling while being backed by a fabulous ensemble that makes it all seem so easy. The big and fat sound of a Hammond opens “Shelter Me from the Storm;” how huge and bluesy does Bowman attack this torch song, maintaining a vise-grip of energy and upward modulation all the way through. “Willow in the Wind” is a song of lost hope and regret that she sings with the shadow of an out-of-reach passion.

Do you remember your first public performance?

I was 5 years old and the choir leader put a microphone in my hand at the gospel church I grew up singing in. 

What was the most important element of your early training that is fundamental for all vocalists?

Finding my true voice.  Being allowed to share my gift. I was encouraged to adapt my own sound and however influenced I am by some of the singers I have listened to, I have always tried to stay true to my own sound. 

How do you take care of your voice?

Lots of rest, water, tea, exercise, and a very healthy diet. Vocal rest when necessary. 

What do you like most about the music scene in Atlanta?

There honestly isn’t that much of a jazz scene in Atlanta. Unfortunately, lots of the jazz clubs don’t exist anymore. But many artists can manifest their own music scene by creating avenues of their own to perform and share their music in restaurants and venues around the city. I encourage my students to do this. Think outside the box and create your own avenues to share your gifts. 

Which vocalists inspire you?

Melody Gardot, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Eva Cassidy. Sadly several of these are resting in peace. 

Why are you so fascinated with the cabaret genre?

I love mixing theatrics, music, and comedy to create this specific genre. I am compelled by the fact that you can be anything you want in your own cabaret show. You can sing a man’s songs or songs written for a child character in a musical. 

Cabaret is a montage of what you want it to be. It’s an opportunity to let the creative juices flow while breaking barriers and having the intimacy of the audience right in front of you. 

Why the name “Fast Heart” and how do the various songs on this album reflect the theme?

“Fast Heart” is the title song.  It’s about a fast heart rate in a state of love and heat while dancing. It comes from a bit of a love affair I had. The riff of that song is very special to me. It’s a specific yet fluttering progression that indicates flying, movement, dancing, wings, ethereal creatures, butterflies, etc.

The release is a tribute to my late sister Patti who died of ovarian cancer 10 years ago.  The album artwork is all connected to the turquoise butterfly, which is the logo for ovarian cancer awareness.  

This CD debuts at NYC’s Birdland. How did you get that gig, and how excited are you to be playing there?

I’m thrilled to be performing at Birdland!  It is such an honor. When I was recording the album at The Power Station in NYC last year, I made many trips to Birdland to sing at Jim Caruso’s cast party on Mondays and meet Gianni, the owner. In time, with dedication and pursuit, I asked for this September 22nd date for the album release because it was exactly the 10th year anniversary of Patti’s death and Gianni gave it to me. Kismet. Grateful. 

“Pannonica” is one of my all-time favorites. Talk about the structure of this song, the melody and the changes. What do you enjoy about singing it?

I love this tune too. My producer brought the song to the table and I kept hearing it as a Latin feel and decided to follow that route for a different color. Bossa novas are some of my favorites to sing and being the only one on this album, it’s so special.  Pannonica herself, whom Monk wrote the song about, was such an essential icon to the jazz scene encouraging Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk. I love that she is named after a butterfly….and well…there you go. All the butterfly themes are there yet again.  

How has this album stretched you as an artist?

I’m so happy about the music and that also gives me the courage to keep going and to record the next one. Mostly it has stretched me as a composer and that is invaluable and a dream come true. 

What do you most want people to know about you?

I want people to listen to the music and feel my heart. That plus my voice are what I have to share. 

For more information, visit www.debbowman.com.

Photos courtesy of and with permission of Deb Bowman.
© Debbie Burke 2019

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