Deb was born and raised in the Boston area and can’t remember a time when she didn’t love to sing and dance to music. She always had her ear to the radio and stereo and was a regular participant in theater, choruses and choirs growing up. When she was eight years old, she had the unique opportunity to study at the Elma Lewis School for Black Cultural Arts in Roxbury, MA. She studied African American music and art and this opened her ears and heart to the sounds and rhythms of gospel and traditional spirituals. While attending college in Maine, she sang in musical theatre, with a swing band and a 4-part harmony acapella group. However it was at the age of 20 years old, when she sang with her first blues/rock band, that she really felt the most at home and able to express herself through singing. She fell in love with the raw, emotional and passionate power of the blues and has been performing and diversifying her sound ever since. In 1990, Deb moved to Philadelphia to study social work and experience the city of brotherly love. She took a few years off from performing then joined a newly formed group entitled The Blue Root in ’95 where she discovered and performed a catalogue of early blues songs by such greats as Bessie Smith, Victoria Spivey, Mamie Smith, Robert Johnson, and Blind Blake to name a few. When this band dissolved, she decided to form her own blues band. She met Walter Runge, a keyboard player at a blues jam in early ’97 and the Deb Callahan Band was born shortly thereafter.
Deb Callahan is a great writer and even better voice for new blues. It’s as if she’s an old soul but with a sense of what’s new. She’s a must hear.” – BlueSource
Some of her biggest influences as a singer have been 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. When she’s not singing and performing, Deb loves to paint, run, read, travel to countries like India, Thailand, Poland and Russia and hear live music when possible. She’s worked for many years in the field of sexual assault violence prevention and treatment and remains a strong advocate in the area of women’s issues.