Debbie Anthony had done it all. She’d married a great guy, raised some great kids and sent them off well-prepared into the world. Being disciplined and organized by nature, not to mention a straight-A student in high school, she even managed her husband Mitch’s career as a consultant, lecturer and author of fifteen books in the financial services industry.
But for all she had accomplished, one goal remained. Luckily, she’s taking care of that too. Just listen to More To Be Said and you know it’s true: This lady was born to make music and claim her place among today’s best country vocalists.
Now, Debbie Anthony always loved music, no doubt about it. While growing up in Minnesota, she spent hours listening to records by her early favorites, above all Karen Carpenter, and singing along. It just took her awhile to pursue a musical career, and not only because of her commitment to her family. In fact, there were some final personal hurdles she had to confront before taking that first professional step.
“I didn’t want to be onstage because I was afraid of forgetting the lyrics!” she admits, with a smile. “Also, I was shy, a very private person. And because my range was so low, I had trouble finding songs for women that I could comfortably sing. That’s why I sang a lot in groups, because I could do the lower harmony.”
Time would resolve both of these issues. After surviving a talent show disaster where the monitor broke down mid-song, Debbie got that fear about lyrics out of the way. As a music student majoring in voice at North Central University in Minneapolis, she developed her chops and, more importantly, her comfort zone when it came to performing in front of people. More critically, she discovered country music. Its impact was immediate.
“None of my friends listened to it, so I decided I should hate it too,” she recalls, laughing. “But when I heard Shania Twain, that changed immediately. One thing I heard was that she picked songs that were really singable, with melodies that were suited to my voice. That changed everything.”
Still, her family responsibilities made it hard for her to make the plunge into music full-time. This is where Mitch comes into the picture. Though not a songwriter himself, he wrote the lyrics to “Faithful” to commemorate their 25th anniversary. It was for her the perfect song, born from their real love for each other and set to a key that suited her too.
That song was included in Debbie’s debut album, All Over Again, which released in 2017. Now, with the runway clear, she has completed More To Be Said, whose stylistic range is wider, with a confidence and flair for bringing songs to life in the studio and onstage.
Recorded at MOXE, an airy, light-bathed studio and creative retreat on 20 wooded acres in Nashville, More To Be Said features some of Music City’s most accomplished and empathic musicians, with fast-rising studio ace Gena Johnson (Ben Folds, Dave Cobb –– Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit — Michael Wagener, Brandi Carlile, Kacey Musgraves, John Prine, and more) helming the production.
All nine tracks made the cut from more than 120 songs initially under consideration. Each one speaks personally to Debbie, who in turn translates that emotion into a performance that speaks to all listeners. “Faithful” is included, reminding us once again of love’s life-changing power. Her duet with Dillon Carmichael on “There’s A Part Of Me” confirms that her years of singing harmony make her an ideal vocal partner. The heartbreak she suffered at age 21, when her first husband died of lung cancer six months into their marriage, is palpable throughout “Second Best.” The same is true in her cover of Wynonna’s “Jesus And A Jukebox,” which rocks with the jubilation of the story — and the backstory as well.
“It turns out that the bass player on my session, Steve Mackey, is also in Wynonna’s video,” Debbie says. “Leslie Richter, our engineer, also engineered that record, and without telling me, sent a message to Wynonna while this was going on. Wynonna quickly sent a personal video message to me and said, ‘Debbie, I’m aware that you’re recording ‘Jesus And A Jukebox.’ That is one of my three favorite songs ever! I want you to make it yours now. Go, girl!”
You can’t find a better blessing than that anywhere in country music. All of which goes to show that though every singer’s road seems to lead to Nashville, sometimes taking the longer route, the one that winds through the lessons of life, is the best one to follow. That was Debbie Anthony’s path — and with More To Be Said, she has clearly arrived.