Debbie Deb on Covers: "Janet Jackson Did 'Lookout Weekend,' She Botched It"

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Nearly two decades after she helped forment the partly Miami-originated freestyle sound alongside legendary 305 producer "Pretty" Tony Butler, "the real Debbie Deb" is on the road, reclaiming her legacy one show at a time. We here at Crossfade spoke to her ahead of her apperance at Magic City Casino this Saturday.

Crossfade: Is this the real Debbie Deb? It's not one of those impostors, right?

Debbie Deb: This is the real one who wrote "When I Hear Music" and "Lookout Weekend" back in '84 and '85. And then...they dissed me.

Dissed you, huh?

Back then, MTV was just coming out and nobody knew how I looked, and they didn't want a heavy girl. They wanted a Madonna type. A sexy, dancer type. So they did a Milli Vanilli kind of thing. There was no picture of me [on the singles], so nobody knew the difference. But this is the real Debbie Deb. My name is Deborah.

When you say "they," who is that?

When I say "they," I am referring to [producer] Pretty Tony, his record label back then. It was called Jam Packed, or Music Specialist. I really wasn't too sure. I was never told any information back then.

What have you been doing all these years since?

I did the two songs, and never had any idea that they were going to blow up and become club anthems. I was just having fun in the studio. I liked to play around and sing. I was never looking be a singer. It just happened. When the songs became popular, I had no stage presence, I didn't know how to fight stage fright. I had no training. I didn't know how to perform for people. And they saw that, obviously. The voice was good for them but the rest of the package wasn't. So they had a couple other girls going around doing clubs in the '80s as Debbie Deb. That scarred me pretty rough for a few years. I became a hairdresser, had my son back then, got married and did the mom thing. And I just didn't want anything to do with the music business. At the same time, there were other Debbie Debs out there performing my songs. That's why I say, "The Real Debbie Deb."

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Jesse Serwer