Deborah

Kuhl

Singer - Songwriter

About Deborah

Mothers and Daughters show at Roxx on Main Martinez
Deborah and her daughter Linda singing

It all started when I moved back from France and decided that I could share my favorite French song list with Americans who hadn’t had my luck of being exposed to French popular music for 20 years.  More about the French music I perform...


Composing original music is still a great passion of mine.  In July 2016 I released my first CD of entirely original music - 20 tracks. Four of my original songs are featured on my French CD "Carte Postale," released in 2009.  More about my original music...

 



BIO - Short version
Deborah began playing piano by ear at age 3.  Primarily a self-taught musician, she had some formal training through both piano and classical voice lessons. Her life has taken her from Iowa to the SF Bay Area to Texas to Algeria to France and back to the Bay again.  Since her return in 2004, she most often performs a repertoire of French music and standards, but she remains active in songwriting too.  She enjoys hosting the Open Mic  she started at First Street Cafe in Benicia and connecting with the wonderful musicians she met through that activity.
Former stints include keyboardist for the new wave era SKA band "Twistyze" in Austin, Texas in the 1980s and in 2003 in Paris, she was member of a female trio that performed original music and covers, usually in three-part harmony.

The Longer Story

 

Early beginnings
The first I remember playing the piano was at 3 years old when my sister Susan taught me to play Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater with one finger on the black keys. Somehow I went on to Kindergarten,  ran home from school and played every song I learned. By the time I was 12, I finally got formal lessons. These only lasted until I was about 15 when we moved to California and left the piano and teacher behind. (Can you feel the trauma!)

 

From holy to Bezerkely

In high school I sang at the church choir at All Saints Church in Hayward, CA. On to UC Berkeley where I entertained fellow dormies gathered in the lounges on late (and probably drunken) weekend nights.

 

And Purple Hair

It wasn’t until I moved to Austin, Texas, that I finally joined a band—as keyboardist to Byron Scott’s Twistyze in 1982. In the zenith of the New Wave era, the five piece SKA band plastered Byron’s black and white posters on nearly every Austin telephone pole and enjoyed significant local success for a band that performed exclusively original music. My first gig with the Twistyze was at the legendary "Continental Club", a hole in the wall where Stevie Ray Vaughn had gotten his start and many other local icons has played. The band got steady work in Austin, San Antonio and Houston and most fortunately never did an ‘oh-so-80s’ music video although we did get into the studio to do some demo tapes.  Sadly, Byron passed away on November 16, 2007.  He is sorely missed by all those who worked with him and anyone who witnessed his talents.   In Summer of 2011, I completed a project to digitize some recordings of the band (both studio and live) into a nice CD.  I felt Byron was looking down my shoulder the whole time I was working on it! You can purchase the CD at a low cost of $6 including shipping. Visit the Twistyze page on this site to view Byron's really cool posters and listen to sample tracks.

 

Also in Austin I benefited from my first voice lessons. My teachers delighted in the fact that I already spoke German and was learning French. The classical training helped me to review the limited music theory I had covered in my short stint of piano lessons and as far as voice was concerned, I progressed rapidly.

 

On to Africa

In 1986, I followed my then husband-to-be to Algeria where I discovered the local sounds and danced to Rai, Chaoui, Chaabi, and Andalousian music while I watched the greatest Middle Eastern stars from Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine on TV.   I performed a duet in Arabic with my colleague at the US Cultural Center at the US Embassy in Algiers and had my students translate the words in to English. They helped me translate "This Land is Your Land" into Arabic, with appropriate geographical references, of course. When satellite TV came into force in Algiers, I had my first real exposure to popular French music including music from before my day.

My first daughter, Safia, was born in 1991. 

 

Out of Africa

I left Algeria for France in 1992 and the family got bigger, with the birth of Linda in 1994 and Mehdi in 1996.   In 1998, I decided to divorce and had a creative surge that produced about 10 songs in 6 months, some of which I consider to be among my best material.  I continued to compose, but had little time to peform while going through several difficult years raising three children on my own.

 

In 2003 I met two colleages at the US Embassy while participating in a choral group, Becky Bouvier and Neomi Van Horn.  Becky was the expert arranger and could whip out a 3-part harmony in seconds flat, whether she was arranging never-heard-before original music or a 60s classic.  Becky is a great composer in her own right and I thoroughly enjoyed performing her stuff.  Neomi had had more formal musical training than Becky and I, and was essential to keeping us in time.  I wish I could have taken them back to the US with me!

 

Home Again

In the summer of 2003, thanks to my brother Dave, I met the love of my life, Doug Wendt who lured me back to the Bay Area with no resistance on my part.  He never ceases to amaze me with his ability to adapt to life with three kids and a crazy mom.  My kids say I smile anytime I hear someone say his name.  At home we're spoiled every day by the sound of his classical guitar not to mention his very dry sense of humor.  Doug and I married in June 2011 and I couldn't resist putting some of my wedding photos on this site!

 

Before I left France, I decided to work on a French repertoire that I felt would be easier to market than my original music while providing me with an enriching challenge as I arranged and adapted the songs to my vocal and piano playing skills.  The French music also made it easier to connect with the amazing musicians who generously performed with me. So far, it's been great fun!  

 

Another activity has been my involvement with Open Mics, either with the one I started at First Street Cafe or hosting occasionally at Armando's in Martinez.  I also love to perform at Armando's bluegrass and jazz jams where the generosity of the amazing house bands challenge us to be our best.  The CA bluegrass community has been especially welcoming and my husband and I enjoy attending  the CA Bluegrass Association's Father's Day Festival and Campout every year in June.  Thanks to bluegrass, I started to learn the fiddle. Doug joined me in performing, at Open Mic's at first and eventually, we joined forces with three more musicians and expanded the style to form the western swing focused Diablo Rhythm Wranglers.  I play accordion and am one of the four lead singers.