|Tuesday, September 21, 1999||
Volume 65, Issue 21
Album Review: Chris Cornell
|Local artist Debra
Gayle uses engaging stage presence to wow crowds
By Matthew F. Tritico
Without even knowing it, Debra Gayle was country when country wasn't cool. Born and raised in Hattiesburg, Miss., she developed a passion for singing by performing church solos at the tender age of four.
By the age of seven, Gayle, along with her mother and two sisters, formed The Hensarlings, singing in various churches
in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. While winning local and state competitions and singing for many benefits and radio broadcasts, they recorded the album Rock-A-Bye.
Throughout junior high and high school, she played piano, bass guitar and alto saxophone and gained more experience singing in school and church choirs. After receiving musical scholarships to the University of Southern Mississippi, she continued her career by singing in a Christian Rock group.
Local country artist Debra Gayle performs at her CD release party earlier this year.
Photo cougrtesy of R&R Records
Deciding to move to Houston, she continued to keep busy by playing bass with a local church and finding other ways to promote herself musically. Soon after, she helped hold karaoke shows at local clubs for three years and met other aspiring artists and some local promoters.
This month, Gayle released a full length CD, cleverly titled ... and then some and recently joined another local act, Bart Alan Woytek & Luck Of The Draw as a vocalist and keyboardist. With influences stemming from country legends Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton to current heavyweights Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood, her soothing voice and glowing presence definitely demands an audience.
Daily Cougar: How often do you play live?
Gayle: "Every weekend, all over the outskirts of Houston, Mo's Place on Mason Rd. and the Firehouse Saloon."
Do you play with your own band to promote your CD?
"No, I'm just singing with Bart right now, but I plan to put my own band together in the near future and push my CD."
What's the story behind the title of your CD ... and then some?
"No story really, it's just the title of one of the songs. Originally it was supposed to be called Love Struck, but I wasn't love struck and besides, I didn't want the title to come across too "girlie." The song "And Then Some" signifies that people who know me know I have more to offer. There's more to me than meets the eye."
What is the hardest thing about promoting yourself in today's competitive country music market?
"The main thing is I don't want to come across as arrogant or conceited, and I don't want people to think I'm doing this
for personal gain. The whole reason I made this CD is I figured that since I didn't have a husband or family, I wanted to see what I could accomplish or if I could make it as a country artist. That is my personal goal."
Your sound and musical style don't really sound like mainstream country, how do you think that separates you from other artists?
"Well, first of all, thank you for the compliment. I think the problem with the country scene today is that many of contemporary artists sound the same. Everyone is trying to be a duplicate of Shania Twain or Garth Brooks. I think I have a
better chance with my sound because I believe I sound different. I'm doing this from my heart and that's what matters."
With the Internet being the driving force behind self- promotion these days, do you have a Web site?
"Actually, I'm in the process of getting one as we speak, but I do have an e-mail address people can reach me in the meantime. It's email@example.com. When my Web site is finished in three to four weeks, my online home will be www.debragayle.com"
How can people get a copy of your CD, find out when you're playing live next or hear a sneak preview of some of your
"Right now, the best way is to e-mail me and I can let you know the details, but soon you'll be able to buy my CD from my
Web site. If you want a sample right away, you can access my profile and download one of my songs from mp3.com.
Here's the link: www.mp3.com/artists/50/debra_gayle.html."
Any final words for anyone that would want to see you live or taking an interest in listening to your CD?
"I hope you will come out to see me play, and give my music a chance. It would be great to know that someone new I met
heard of me from this interview."
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