|Montgomery News “The Ticket” – Montgomery County, PA
Mt. Airy Blues Artist Finds Inspiration in Social Work
Deb Callahan doesn’t just sing the blues, she experiences them nearly every day. And as any fan of the genre knows, authenticity is the first rule for every aspiring blues musician.
Callahan who released her sophomore album, “The Blue Pearl” in November works part-time as a social worker in Philadelphia often interacting one on one with runaways and the homeless.
It is there that Callahan absorbs the stories if the people she works with and incorporates their struggles into her very own concoction of blues, soul and gospel. “I tend to be very idealistic”, Callahan said. “I want to create social change and I’m really interested in people’s stories. I guess that’s what draws me to the blues.”
Callahan got her passion for music while still a teenager growing up in Boston, MA. Raised by progressive parents who adopted two African-American children, Callahan said she was fortunate enough for her family to be exposed to all ends of the cultural spectrum.
“My mother was into a lot of different cultural aspects when I was growing up,” Callahan explained. “She was always into gospel, so I think that’s where I first started to get into that kind of music.”
Callahan eventually went on to college, earning a master’s degree in social work and settling in Philadelphia. Although music and social work may seem like two very different worlds, for Callahan, they form an undeniable bond that helps her music retain the honesty and rawness the blues thrives on. “I get to listen to people’s stories, their pain, their joys,” Callahan said. They’re definitely in my own consciousness. The lyrics are about my own experiences as well as my observations.”
In 2002, Callahan released her first album, “If The Blues Had Wings”, to much critical acclaim. Since then, she’s been busy writing, playing local gigs and touring relentlessly around the country, often sharing the stages with some of the biggest legends in music such as Buddy Guy and Billy Preston
With her wailing, powerful vocals, Callahan often finds her name being tossed alongside the likes of Bonnie Raitt. But it’s a comparison she doesn’t seem to mind much. I think she’s an amazing musician,” It’s totally a high compliment, although it can get frustrating when I do something that I think is a lot different from what she does.
Callahan’s second album features 12 original songs and a cover of Paul Butterfield’s classic “Lovin Cup” With help from co-writer Chris Arms, guitarist Allen James, bassist Gary Lee and drummer Doug Masters, Callahan has turned out an album that holds true to the long traditions of the blues while adding her own flair of gruff, soulful vocals
Callahan and her band are scheduled to make their third appearance this year at The World Café Live on December 17, followed by a performance at the Sellersville Theatre Blues & Brews Night on Friday, January 6 th – Kyle Schultz