Philadelphia’s blues and soul drenched vocalist and songwriter released her 4th CD entitled “Tell It Like It Is” in October of 2010. The new CD is another successful collaboration between Philadelphia producer/songwriter, Chris Arms and Deb and was recorded at Studio 4 in Conshohocken, PA by Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Phil Nicolo. The CD features 9 new original songs and a cover of “Funkier Than a Mosquita’s Tweeter” originally performed by Tina Turner and written by her sister Aillene Bullock as well as “Cold Irons Bound” a Bob Dylan tune. The road tested band including guitarist Allen James, bass player Garry Lee and drummer, Tom Walling with special guests Jason Crosby on keyboards/violin, (Susan Tedeschi, Robert Randolph) and Matt Cappy on trumpet, (Jill Scott, MJ Blige, Jay-Z, John Legend), bring a live, spontaneous feel to the tracks. The songs are blues based with forays into gospel, soul, rock and jazz and thematically explore a range of topics and issues including feeling love and joy, finding spirituality, giving voice to the experience of homeless children without family support, how hard it can be to make changes and are both serious and playful. In a Review of “Tell It Like It Is”, Living Blues Magazine says “ Callahan’s voice has the spiked fervor of contemporary Susan Tedeschi, but it’s richer and smoother. Stylistically she’s picked up a lot from one of her earlier influences, Nina Simone – Simone’s squirming rhythms and hypnotic vocals reverberate in Callahan’s music.” “Deb Callahan is a shouter, a crooner, a soul-belter and above all a gifted lyrical interpreter. She could sing the phone book and make it sound good.” Blues source.com says “Debs vocals are right on with the subtle tinge of a street smart performer. She sings the blues beautifully and can handle a slower ballad with precision and patience”. Since 2002, Callahan has released three CDs, If The Blues Had Wings, The Blue Pearl and Grace & Grit. She performs many of these original songs live as well as putting her own twist on some standards.
Her 2008 CD, “Grace & Grit” also produced in collaboration with Chris Arms, has been given significant airplay on stations around the country (including regular rotation on XM/Sirius Radio’s bluesville station) and debuted on the Living Blues Radio Charts for November 2008 at #16. She has been touring up and down the east coast and the mid-west performing at many festivals, concerts and clubs on the strength of this release. “Grace & Grit” features original music with a cover of one of her favorite Ray Charles songs “Hallelujah I love him so” and a few a capella snippets of songs sung by Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell and Aretha Franklin who have all been strong influences. . Grace & Grit has a strong blues base but brings in gospel, soul, rock and jazz elements and the material ranges from songs about being a single mother trying to make it in America in “Food on the Table” to the humorous No Taxi Driver about receiving to many wrong number calls from people who are looking for a taxi to the playful “Obstacle of Love" where she creatively sings about the challenges of being in a relationship with someone when they’re a complete opposite.
Deb Callahan grew up in the Boston area but has been a fixture on the mid-Atlantic music scene since the late 90’s. During this time she has gained a reputation for writing creative blues, soul and roots influenced original music and using her powerful, emotionally expressive voice and engaging stage presence to deliver a unique, high energy live show. Doing social work in the heart of Philadelphia would be a good place to learn about life’s hard knocks and this urban school ground taught singer/songwriter Deb Callahan well. Her rich, honest and soulful tunes resonate with listeners and run the gamut from soulful ballads to upbeat, dance oriented romps
Blues Revue Magazine says of Grace & Grit “Deb Callahan possesses an instinctive feel for the blues. As a songwriter, Callahan’s gift lies in bringing fresh perspectives to classic lyrical themes. Vocally she understand her strengths a pure, resonant tone and expressive phrasing and employs them to great effect. She also stands as a first rate song interpreter.” Jazzreview.com says “ Her powerful, soul-tinged bluesy vocals showcase both an abundance of grace along with more than just a smidgen of grit. On the grace/grit scale, she weighs in heavily alongside the finest female blues belters ever. In fact, the potent force of her vocals should secure her presence on the national blues scene for years.”
Deb’s 2002 debut CD If the Blues Had Wings, garnered her positive acclaim from the blues and roots community and was featured as the hot debut in the Oct/Nov 2004 issue of Blues Revue Magazine. Blues Revue referred to her as the next Bonnie Raitt and raved "Philly’s Deb Callahan has the pipes, the songs and the raw talent to graduate to the next level". Deb released her sophomore CD The Blue Pearl in November 2005 where she teamed up with producer and song-writer Chris Arms, to craft a contemporary sounding CD with all the elements of timeless blues, soul and rock music. From the New Orleans blues/funk of the title track "Blue Pearl Moon " to the marriage of traditional and modern in the "Credit Card Blues ". Deb incorporates thoughtful and often funny lyrics to tell a modern day blues tale. In a review of The Blue Pearl, Living Blues described Deb as a “gifted song-writer whose voice is matchless in the ring of sultry blues singers”.
Since 2005, the band has been touring nationally up and down the east coast and beyond, both at festivals and clubs including the kick-off event for The St. John Blues Festival in the Virgin Islands, The Monterey Bay Blues Festival in California, The Fargo Blues Fest, Fargo, ND, The Rockin the Bay Music Fest, Gladstone, MI, the Springing the Blues Festival in Jacksonville, Florida, Florida International Blues Fest, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, The White Mountain Boogie Fest in Thornton, NH, The Bayfront Blues Fest in Duluth, MN, The Boundaries Water Blues Festival in Ely, Minnesota, The Trempealeau Blues Fest, Trempealeau, WI, Cookin at McCooks Festival in Niantic, CT, The Western Maryland Blues Festival in Hagerstown, MD, the Heritage Blues Festival in Wheeling, West Virginia, The Pittsburgh Blues Festival, Pittsburgh, PA, The Philadelphia Blues Festival at The World Cafe Live, The Berks Blues and Jazz Festival in Reading, PA, The Red Bank Blues Festival in Red Bank, NJ, The Great Eastern Blues Fest in Masanutten,VA, The Briggs Farm Festival in the Poconos, PA, The Lehigh Valley Blues Festival in Whitehall, PA, The Turks Head Festival in Westchester, PA. The Media Blues Stroll in Media., PA, The Shenandoah Valley Blues Bash, in Luray, VA, The Wilmington Riverfest in Wilmington, DE, The Chesapeake Blues Festival in Anapolis, MD, The Central Delaware Blues & Jazz Festival in Felton, DE, The Safeway BBQ & Blues Fest in Washington DC, The Belair BBQ & Blues Fest in Belair, MD, The Bucks County Blues Society R & B Picnic in Morrisville, PA, and many more.
Deb’s music has been played at radio stations around the United States and Europe. She has shared the stage with Buddy Guy, Billy Preston, James Cotton, Shemekia Copeland, Hubert Sumlin, Debbie Davies, Savoy Brown, Big Jack Johnson, Sean Costello, The Holmes Brothers, Phil Guy, Deanna Bogart, Ann Rabson, Nick Curran, Southside Johnny, Floyd Lee, NRBQ, Joe Bonamassa, Guitar Shorty, Little Ed and The Imperials, Bob Margolin, Paul Cebar, Tommy Castro, Anthony Gomes, Johhny Lee Hooker Junior, Sister Monica Parker. Marcia Ball, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Duke Robillard, Eric Lindell, Indigenous and more.
Deb Callahan is most often compared to singers such as Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Lydia Pense. She says "for me it is the blues and soul singers that have always gotten to my gut which includes people like Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Nina Simone, Otis Redding, Billie Holiday, Buddy Guy, Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, Bessie Smith, Joan Osborne, Ray Charles, Al Green and Mavis Staples and Irma Thomas…to name a few.