Debby Holiday: Definitely Not a One-Trick Pony

(This article was commissioned by Nacho Daddy and it first appeared on PV Mirror, Issue #589.)

Multiple Billboard charting singer/songwriter Debby Holiday is currently performing a series of shows at Nacho Daddy along with a live band comprised of both local and touring musicians. In order to better appreciate what to expect during one of her live performances, it is quite helpful to learn about her background.

Debby grew up in Los Angeles close to her father, Jimmy Holiday, a successful soul artist who not only topped the charts with his own singles, he went on to write hits for the likes of Ray Charles and Jackie DeShannon in the sixties. Through him, she was able to experience every aspect of the music industry early on. When it comes to music preferences, she didn’t always see things eye-to-eye with him. “My father was writing pop songs while I was crazy about David Bowie, Aerosmith, Elton John, Tina Turner, Bette Midler and other drama performers.”

At first glance, her music preferences may seem to be at odds with the fact that many of her most successful hits have been dance songs. She is quick to explain. “It was 2004, I had written a song called Dive, and my dear friend Andrew Briskin—who lived in Puerto Vallarta and has since left us—sent it to American dance music record producer, remixer, and DJ Chris Cox. At the time, I didn’t know much about remixing music (altering a song with dance beats, to create a new version of it) and had never imagined my song as a dance tune. When Chris heard it, he wanted to work with it and create a dance version.”

“They dropped me from my contract because, at the end of the day, they didn’t seem to quite know what to do with a black rock singer.”

The timing could not have been better. Five years prior, she had been signed on by Warner Bros. but the record label was increasingly at odds with her being black and her earnest desire to write and perform rock music. “They dropped me from my contract because, at the end of the day, they didn’t seem to quite know what to do with a black rock singer,” she explains. Debby used the funds received from the record label settlement to start her own record label. Three months later, her single Dive reached the #5 position in the Billboard dance charts.

Presently, she is most grateful for the success she has obtained through her dance hits but remains close to her roots. “I think many people like to compartmentalize and put us in boxes,” she muses. “If you like classical, you must be a classical player and so forth. The reality is that most of us know and love many different genres.” This is evidenced in her latest release, Free2B, a double album that features half rock and half dance tunes.

Debby first connected with Puerto Vallarta a few years ago when Andrew Briskin was instrumental in her performing at Oscar’s restaurant in Isla Río Cuale on New Year’s Eve. This led to a few seasons performing at Act II and now she is thrilled to be at Nacho Daddy performing with a live band. Through the years, she has been able to nurture her following and develop new friendships locally and elsewhere. The music video for her song Waiting for a Lifetime, available on YouTube, features a few Puerto Vallarta vistas and close friends lip-syncing her words. “The song was inspired by a friend from North Carolina who waited 15 years or-so to get married to his same-sex partner. At the time he said ‘I felt like I was waiting for a lifetime,’ and I knew there was a song there. I wanted to get every possible kind of being in the video. In doing so I realized the diversity of my family of choice.”

Featured on the music video is American film director and producer, playwright and actor Del Shores, whose renowned play Sordid Lives has been produced locally. “Del had come to listen to me perform at the insistence of a mutual friend. At the end of my set he told me he had a role for me, even though I’m not an actress. This led to a three and a half year engagement in his play, The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife. The play was eventually adapted for a movie as Blues for Willadean, where she shared screen credits with American character actress Beth Grant and Academy and Golden Globe award-winning actress Octavia Spencer.

Debby Holiday performs a set at Nacho Daddy

What can you expect at a Debby Holiday performance? “I love celebrating the one thing rock and dance music have in common: letting the energy out, being free. I have a strong belief in the human spirit and am always grateful when people come out to see the shows. Supporting live musicians is really important and I always try to go out of my way to connect with everyone and anyone in the audience.” Learn more about Debby Holiday by visiting her website.

Enjoy Debby Holiday at Nacho Daddy on March 1, 5, 10 and 12. Best described as a “House of Blues” with a tropical twist, Nacho Daddy is the perfect venue to catch your favorite sports event on the street-level restaurant and enjoy a broad variety of live music performances and community theater in the upstairs performance space. Nacho Daddy is located at Basilio Badillo 287 in Colonia Emiliano Zapata. For more information, visit their website, follow Nacho Daddy on Facebook at NachoDaddyPV, or call (322) 688-5566.

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