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Deborah Lynn Thurmond (born September 30, 1953) known professionally as Deborah Allen, is an American country music singer, songwriter, author, and actress. Since 1976, Allen has issued 12 albums and charted 14 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. She is most remembered for the 1983 crossover hit "Baby I Lied", which reached No. 4 on the country chart and No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100. Allen has also written No. 1 singles for herself, Janie Fricke, and John Conlee; Top 5 hits for Patty Loveless and Tanya Tucker; and a Top 10 hit for The Whites.
|Birth name||Deborah Lynn Thurmond|
|Born||September 30, 1953|
|Origin||Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.|
|Genres||Country, country-soul, Pop rock|
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter, producer, publisher, author, actress|
Southbound Sound Records
Delta Rock Records
Early life and rise to fameEdit
Allen was born Deborah Lynn Thurmond in Memphis, Tennessee and was strongly influenced by Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Ray Charles, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the current music which was being played in Memphis on WHBQ and WDIA, as well as country greats such as Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. At 18, Allen moved to Nashville to begin pursuing her career in music. She worked a short stint as a waitress at the local Music Row IHOP restaurant. While there one day, Deborah met Roy Orbison and songwriter Joe Melson. Two weeks later, Orbison and Melson, who admired her spunk, decided to hire Allen to sing background on a couple of Orbison tracks.
Allen also auditioned for and landed a job at the Opryland USA theme park. She was soon chosen by Opryland as a featured soloist and dancer for a state department exchange tour of Russia starring Tennessee Ernie Ford.
Upon her return from Russia, Deborah gravitated to the Nashville offices of Waylon Jennings, the Tompall & the Glaser Brothers and John Hartford where her close friend, Marie Barrett, worked as a secretary. There she met her soon-to-be songwriting mentor, poet, playwright, artist and songwriter Shel Silverstein. After watching her perform during a happy hour show at the Spence Manor on Nashville's famed Music Row, Shel advised Deborah to pursue songwriting as an extension of her creativity and career path.
Allen also began to pursue a singing career in her own right when she was chosen to be a regular on Jim Stafford's ABC summer replacement series. She went on to serve as an opening act for many of Stafford's personal appearances. Jim and producer Phil Gernhard brought Deborah back to Nashville to record a CB radio novelty record called "Do You Copy". It was recorded live and was released as a single on Warner Bros. Records. Although she appreciated the opportunity to record with Stafford and Gernhard, Deborah was disheartened that after waiting patiently for two years to record her first record, it was a novelty tune. She decided to move back to Nashville to follow her true musical direction.
In 1979, while singing at a private party, Deborah was discovered by producer Bud Logan, who invited her to sing on five unfinished duet tracks by the late country legend Jim Reeves. Three of these songs were "Don't Let Me Cross Over," "Oh, How I Miss You Tonight" and "Take Me in Your Arms and Hold Me." All three duets were released as singles, and made the Top 10 on the country charts for Reeves' longtime label, RCA Records. Deborah was billed as "The Mystery Singer" on the first release, an innovative promotion by label head, Joe Galante.
Career peak: 1980sEdit
In 1980, Allen signed with Capitol Records. Her debut album for the label was 1980's Trouble in Paradise. The album produced her initial solo hit "Nobody's Fool" peaking at No. 24 on Billboard country chart. Subsequent chart singles included "You Make Me Wonder Why," "You Look Like the One I Love" (a song she had co-written) and "After Tonight," co-written by Troy Seals. At the same time, Deborah had written a song called "Don't Worry 'Bout Me Baby" with Bruce Channel and Kieran Kane. Although she pleaded with her record label, Capitol, to let her record it and release it as a single, they refused. With the encouragement of music publisher Don Gant, Janie Fricke's producer, Jim Ed Norman, heard "Don't Worry 'Bout Me Baby" and recorded it with Fricke. The single became Deborah's first No. 1 single on the Billboard charts as a songwriter, affirming Allen's belief that songwriting was the way to create a successful future for herself.
In 1983, Deborah moved to RCA Records, where she achieved her greatest success, releasing the album Cheat the Night. The first single from the album, "Baby I Lied", became Allen's signature song and only crossover hit. The song peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard country chart and crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 26 in January 1984. The song also climbed into the Top 10 of the Adult Contemporary chart. Allen followed the crossover hit with the country single "I've Been Wrong Before", which went to No. 1 on the Cashbox country chart in the spring of 1984. It also earned her nominations for the Grammy Award for Best Country Song and Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female. Later that year, "I Hurt For You", also from Allen's breakthrough album, became a Top 10 country hit. In 1984, she recorded Let Me Be the First, the first album to be digitally recorded in—and released from—Nashville. In 1984, Allen made the charts once again with "Heartache and a Half" (written by Allen with her then-husband, Rafe VanHoy and legendary Muscle Shoals songwriter Eddie Struzick).
In 1987, Allen released a single penned by Prince, under the alias Joey Coco, called Telepathy. An album of the same name was also issued and was considered more pop oriented. In 1987, Allen released her last single for RCA, "You're the Kind of Trouble".
Comeback and subsequent lifeEdit
Without the constraints of a major label, Allen was free to be independently creative, nurturing her success as a songwriter. After the No. 1 co-written hit, "Don't Worry 'Bout Me Baby" and the Tanya Tucker hit "Can I See You Tonight", Allen won another No. 1 for Janie Frickie, "Let's Stop Talking About It", as well as the No. 1 John Conlee release, "I'm Only in It for the Love", which she co-wrote with Kix Brooks and VanHoy.
During this time, Allen began to explore the songwriting influences in her deep Southern roots, recording the album Delta Dreamland which she co-produced and financed on her own. She received rave reviews from the Nashville music industry for its raw honest emotion and earthy production.
Soon, Allen was able to make a deal with Giant Records to release the album under their label in 1993. That same year, she had the single "Rock Me (In the Cradle of Love)". Although it charted at No. 29 on the country chart, the record seemed to reach a much larger audience and status by virtue of the hit video that accompanied its release. The video of "Rock Me" was filmed on Allen's own 16mm Ariflex SR film camera and edited on her own Sony editing machine. Allen won the Music City Summit Award for her co-producing and co-directing skills. Her hands-on approach to her music and career was her salvation in a business that can be so easily swayed by the ever-changing flavor of the month.
Allen also had one other charting single from the Delta Dreamland album with, "If You're Not Gonna Love Me". This landmark album served to show Allen as a new person, with more depth as a writer, as well as a more sensual image and a bluesy new style.
Allen's 1994 album, All That I Am, which was co-produced by Deborah and label head, James Stroud, was also well received with her single release "Break These Chains". Since the release of her two Giant Records albums, Allen has remained a popular songwriter and one of the most revered vocalists in Nashville.
In addition to Allen's personal albums, Deborah contributed to the soundtrack of the 1993 film "The Thing Called Love" performing "Blame It on Your Heart" (also covered by Patty Loveless) and the Don Schlitz ballad "Ready and Waiting".
Once again, it was time to regroup and start anew, which Allen did with her new co-publishing deal and record deal with Curb music publishing and Curb Records. She released one album with Curb Records in 2000, titled The Best Of, that included a new version of her 1983 hit "Baby I Lied". Through her connection with LeAnn Rimes who was intent on meeting Allen when she came to Nashville at age 13 to pursue a record deal of her own, five of Allen's songs were recorded by Rimes. Two of Allen's songs appeared on the multi-platinum "Blue" album and three songs on her "Sittin' On Top of the World" album.
Shortly after Allen's success with Rimes, her song "We Can Get There", performed by Mary Griffin, appeared in the film "Coyote Ugly".
Allen continues to perform worldwide and is extremely active today in her songwriting and producing. The album is Hear Me Now was released through Delta Rock Records and GMV Nashville on August 16, 2011. The first single was "Anything Other Than Love", co-written by Gary Burr. The album also contains Allen's song "Amazing Graceland", a tribute to Elvis Presley.
Allen's publishing companies, Delta Queen Music and Delta Rose Music are currently co-published with partner, Delta Rock Music. She is represented by Raymond Hicks of Rolling Thunder Management.
Allen co-wrote "Your Loss" with Savannah Maddison in 2012, which was the 11-year-old's first song.
In 2013, she released her first Christmas album, Rockin' Little Christmas, through Weblast Records, and done Christmas shows at the Fontanel Mansion in Nashville, TN, that same year.
Deborah Allen DayEdit
On March 22, 2019, Bill Lee, Governor of the State of Tennessee officially designated June 5, 2019 as a Day of Recognition to honor legendary country music artist Deborah Allen.
Country music legend Deborah Allen was surprised with a special presentation by T. G. Sheppard, Kelly Lang and WSM's Devon O’Day at Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley during the 6th annual Country For A Cause, benefiting Monroe Carell Jr’s Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Allen stated, “I was completely stunned and deeply honored to receive such a phenomenal Proclamation from our Tennessee Governor, Bill Lee. The surprise, heartfelt presentation given at the Country For A Cause concert by my wonderful friends, T.G. Sheppard and the beautiful and talented Kelly Lang, along with WSM’s beloved Devon O’Day made this even more special! I will treasure this amazing award and special memory always.”
- Betts, Stephen L., AOL Music; Deborah Allen interview, Nov. 2011
- Betts, Stephen L., AOL Music; Deborah Allen interview, Nov. 2011
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