The unique sound of vocalist Debra James Tucker is a product of her extensive training in jazz, classical and gospel music. “Kathleen Battle with a pork chop”. A graduate of Denison University and the University of Michigan Law School, she is an advocate of the use of the arts to effect social change .Growing up in a family of gospel singers Debra stood out because she “sounded like opera”. A fascination with jazz led to training in the early “jazz universities” of the nightclub jam session where she was mentored by seasoned jazz players.
Debra has performed with Opera Columbus, Theatre des Westens in Germany, The Columbus Symphony Orchestra and with countless jazz artists. She has the taught the History of African American gospel at Denison University and lectured on popular music history. A believer in nurturing young talent, she has been artist in residence with numerous youth arts programs.
Debra oversees a catalogue of productions including “From These Roots-the pioneering gospel of Mahalia Jackson and Rosetta Tharpe”, “Soul of a Queen-the music and times of Aretha Franklin”, and the Oh Freedom series which chronicles the music of black freedom struggle.
Debra is the writer/performer of an award-winning one-woman show “Survival of the Boulevard Singer”, a salute to her late brother which challenges homophobia in the black church and uses early black church forms in new contexts and meaning.
Debra is currently working on a solo recording which continues her exploration of early black church forms in contemporary contexts.