"A great song tells a compelling story about our culture, our attitudes, our feelings. The song is the star; I am but the messenger."
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 unaccompanied 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 20 years later, she is now a full-time performer who bridges the old and new with a refreshing stage presence. She can be seen in many venues, heard on both terrestrial and internet radio world-wide and will travel anywhere to sing. 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. 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 two cats, Hazel n’ Herman.
Across the Water
This was a favourite song when I was about 6 or 7 years old. My mom had purchased a recording by a folksinger named June Bugg, and I immediately fell in love with this song. “Darlin’ Corey” is a tune that all banjo players know well and the song is usually performed in a bluegrass style. I adapted the song to an unaccompanied blues style, and when Geoff Bartley came along with his resonator guitar, the song became complete for me.
As a kid listening to top 40 radio, I loved the Kinks’ popular songs. In my first year at college, I heard another Davies masterpiece, “Skin and Bones” and decided to buy one of their records. I couldn’t recall the name of the album and ended up with a copy of Muswell Hillbillies. It continues to be one of my favorite recordings.
Walloping Window Blind
Originally a poem by Charles Carryl, this song was sung by children in schools at the beginning of the 20th century. We're not quite sure about the origin of the first two verses in Mrs. Fish's version. Out of all the source singers that I had listened to, Mrs. Fish was my favorite. She sang with exuberance and a confidence that came through in the recordings. She contributed over 150 songs to the Flanders Collection and also sang for collectors Anne and Frank Warner. This song grabbed my attention with the line, “I'm off to my love with a boxing glove”.
Wall of Stone
Bay of Biscay-O
There are many songs about the Bay of Biscay, which is located in southwestern Europe, bounded by France and Spain. The coastline varies from rocky cliffs to sandy beaches, thus winds and currents make navigation difficult.
Has He Got a Friend For Me
Special recording included in the 2006 Box Set released by Free-Reed Records
The Great Fast Food Strike
Deborah is one of my dearest friends and a Local 1000 member who is a teacher, performer and activist. Her CD “Work In Progress” is a wonderful collection songs including six of her own. Thanks, Deborah!
Yon Green Valley
McGinnis Gets A Job
The Verdant Braes of Skreen
Star In The East
Also known as "Brightest and Best" this version was collected by Helen Hartness Flanders.
The Snow Is On the Ground
A song about the approaching of winter with the time-honored theme of remembering those less fortunate.
Arrangement by Dave Mattacks
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1: What artist would you most love to work with?
2: What instrument brings you the most joy?
3: What was the worst advice?
4: What was your first concert?
Singing a duet in 6th grade. The song was "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"
5: What/where is the best road food?
6: What’s the best music advice you ever got?
"Listen to the source singers. They'll tell you what you need to know"
7: Who is your most surprising inspiration?
Sheriff John (you'll understand if you grew up in Los Angeles in the 1960s)