A lifelong resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, Deborah Winters’ childhood was immersed in music and dance. Heavily influenced by her father, who pursued the drums as a young man, and by her mother, who was a professional ballet dancer for the Oakland Metropolitan Ballet Company, Deborah developed a passion for music, dance and the theatre at a very early age. Big Band sounds rang through the household where Deborah and her father listened to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton and Woody Herman, to name a few. During her adolescent years, while moving around the country with her family, Deborah commenced her study of voice and the guitar. Deborah became increasingly influenced by singer/songwriters such as James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Rickie Lee Jones. As an acting/theatre major in college, Deborah sought to combine her love of music, dance and art through the stage as a musical actress. However, her ongoing desire to sing and play the guitar in intimate settings kept pulling at her heartstrings. This led to Deborah playing clubs and finding her way into the studio to record a few of her own compositions before graduating. As her musical palate expanded to include jazz standards and contemporary musical forms, Deborah began to perform in San Francisco and establish musical alliances with some of the Bay area’s most highly acclaimed performers, including legendary drummer Tony Williams, singers Bobby McFerrin and his Voicestra group, pianist/arranger Frank Martin, and Brazilian guitarist Jose Neto. In 2003, Deborah released her debut recording, live “in session” on her Pure Passion Productions label, featuring an all-star cast of Bay area musicians. The CD offers an exquisite program of Deborah’s spirited and stirring original compositions, along with a few chestnuts such as “In a Sentimental Mood,” “You Send Me,” and “Fields of Gold.” 2009 witnessed the release of Deborah’s second CD, Inspired, again on her Pure Passion Productions label. Produced and arranged by award-winning producer/arranger/pianist/vocalist Gary Malkin, this project elegantly portrays Deborah’s more introspective side, with heartfelt original compositions and a gorgeous rendition of world-renowned pianist/arranger/composer Dave Grusin’s “What Matters Most.” On her soon-to-be released CD, Lovers After All, for the Jazzed Media label, Deborah joined forces with trumpeter/arranger/producer Peter Welker and a stellar cast of Jazz luminaries from San Francisco, New York, Boston and LA. This lofty big-band excursion traverses the vast expanse of jazz history – from the 40s to the present – from some of the best-loved standards to rarely heard gems. In choosing the songs in this recording, Deborah and Peter sought out jazz composers whose pieces provided the ideal platform to showcase her extraordinary versatility and her trademark feeling of intimacy. Variety and versatility characterize Deborah’s ongoing performance schedule. From straight-ahead jazz to inspirational to folk and rock, Deborah continues to dazzle and uplift her audiences at Bay Area music festivals, concert halls, churches and house concerts. Her jam-packed teaching schedule attests to the profound impact she has on developing up-and-coming vocalists in a broad array of musical styles. Deborah Winters’ perpetual search for new ways to express her highly captivating and emotionally riveting music are always front and center in her evolution as a singer, guitarist and songwriter. Her legions of fans are in for a treat as her quest continues.
- Beth Dix
- Eryn Violet Bathke