Debbie Gibson LIVE (photo by Nick Spanos)
Debbie Gibson returns to her gay club roots at MetroBall
RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer
Before Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo and other young female superstar singers/songwriters, there was always Debbie Gibson. Gibson was already writing her own big hits back in the 1980s — hits like “Shake Your Love” and “Electric Youth” — and, although the music industry has changed since then, she’s still in the game, still doing the same but with the added advantages of wisdom and experience.
Gibson is currently on the road with her The Body Remembers Tour, the encore version. The tour supports her 2021 album of the same name, but it’s also a second go-round for the singer.
“We are coming back around for this tour. People wanted it back, and besides, I’m not done releasing singles from the album,” she said recently by phone from Las Vegas.
Her tour restarts on May 25 in Niagara Falls. Then Gibson’s second stop is at S4 in Dallas where she is headlining MetroBall 16 on June 2 at Station 4.
The annual fundraising event benefits the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, an organization that helps people impacted by HIV/AIDS with funds to meet emergency needs.
This is Gibson’s second time to perform at the event.
Before embarking on her new tour, Gibson spoke with Dallas Voice about her fear of singing and returning to her gay club roots with MetroBall.
Dallas Voice: Congratulations on the kinda-new tour? Debbie Gibson (laughs) Thank you! This version will have some new deep cuts for the die-hard fans out there. I’d say this is about 75 percent as it was with 25 percent new or refreshed choreography.
You’re going out on tour, but you recently said you have a fear of singing. That was surprising to hear after all this time that you’ve been performing. Yeah, I work very hard to put my voice in a certain place when performing. My God-given gift is to write, but my voice is really not the most consistent. I can’t get out of bed and start singing.
So for me it can sometimes be challenging. But it’s a cerebral thing. I have a strong base and can sort of “technique” my way through shows because it’s so much about coordination with your body. Really, I just work on getting out of my own way when it comes to singing.
You’ve talked about being diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Does that factor in also? There is limited stamina for sure, so I have to trust in my technique. I’ve built that up over a lifetime. When Masked Singer came up, I took it as a personal challenge to put that trust to the test.
Well you killed it on Masked Singer, and that was a last-minute thing. Yes, and I was in New York when they asked me to fill in for someone who had to step out. I had been asked before properly to appear on the show. I was operating on limited energy and afraid I couldn’t warm up in time, but I was proud of that performance. And it’s funny how this felt right to do over before. Magical things happen when saying “yes” to the right thing at the right time.
You’re coming to Dallas for MetroBall, but you’ve had a longstanding relationship with the LGBTQ community. Where did that stem from? I’ve had this very intimate connection with the community from such an early age. My family — my mother — was always very warm and welcoming to every human being. I got to grow up in this open and inclusive atmosphere. Not everyone gets that in their youth. Plus, I have been playing gay clubs since I was 16.
Wait, what? When it came time to play clubs, there were the teen clubs, the straight clubs and the gay clubs. Playing for people my age was fun, but in straight bars, I had to work a bit harder — well very hard. They weren’t there for a girl singing pop songs. But the gay club audiences — which are very discerning — were rooting for me from the first note. That really established this joyful connection.
That is legitimately mind blowing you were performing in clubs while underage but then to establish a rapport. Oh and, back then, it was before the album, and I only had like three songs. So it was a 30-minute show of extended versions of those songs.
So when you play Station 4 this June — or play any gay club now — do you feel that throwback to the early days? It really does connect me to that time, and it’s so lovely — especially when they know my whole catalog. To be back full circle and have this connection is really incredible. I continue to do Prides and cruises and, of course, a lot of Broadway, and it’s been this great love affair with the community. It’s so joyful.
MetroBall 16 takes place June 2 at Station 4 and will also feature Kristine W and emcee Jada Pinkett Fox. For information or tickets visit GDMAF.org.