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Originally from North Philadelphia, Debra Cilingin grew up in a section of the city surrounded by the sounds of Motown, Sam Cooke, Sarah Vaughn, Nat King Cole and Duke Ellington. This was the sixties and music was the heartbeat of love, despair, and the counter-revolution. Debra Cilingin's mother, a '40's big band singer, encouraged Debra's love of music at an early age. At 15 Debra won a scholarship to Philadelphia's Theatre Guild and from there moved to New York City where she studied with Stella Adler of the New School. Since then Debra has enjoyed a sustained and creative career as a vocalist known for her strong stage presence, her melodic gifts, and a voice that can convey pain, yearning and desire. Debra Cilingin has performed all over the world including North America, Japan, Europe and Scandinavia. In 2004 she was voted one of America's top blues vocalist at the International Blues Festival held in Memphis, Tennessee. Debra currently makes her home in Connecticut where the Connecticut Blues Society voted her Connecticut's best blues vocalist.
Today Debra Cilingin is known for performing traditional and contemporary jazz with a deep-seated blues flavor reflective of her musical roots and reminiscent of Nina Simone, Billy Holiday and Eva Cassidy. She bites down hard on the lyric, but she cuts loose as she floats and simmers through the melody line with an intricate and sensuous rhythm that is as eloquent as it is complete. It is hardly surprising that Debra Cilingin has been singled out as a remarkable vocalist by the New York Times or that another reviewer noted how her "Throaty velvet alto…manages to wring every last drop of unhappiness out of each syllable (even though) it's hard to believe someone this sexy could loose all those men!"