Deb Barr, A Musical Retrospective
By Kathryn R. Burke
Deb Barr was born a musician. Music has been a guiding light throughout her life. She learned to play the piano when she was just two years old. At age five, she had memorized and could sing—all the words—to songs on 45s someone had given her.
During high school, Deb sang, played piano, and was involved with musical productions for community theater. She was 16 when she joined a Peter, Paul, and Mary “clone” band and sang with them until she went to college (in Austin, Texas). She started her own jazz band while in college and was singing with other bands as well.
In 1981, Deb left Texas and headed to Telluride, Colorado, where she joined the Telluride Jazz Quartet (which then became a quintet). Seven years later, she went to New York City to take private lessons with a vocal instructor with the Manhattan School of Music. Deb also performed at various venues throughout the area.
She returned to Telluride in the ‘90s as a solo artist and also to sing with the Jeff Solon Swingin’ Big Band for the next 11 years. Today, she performs as a solo artist, and, besides Telluride, has performed in Albuquerque, Durango, Ouray, Ridgway, Montrose and other areas.
Deb Barr grew up in Abilene, Texas, where she was fortunate to have access to a variety of types of music and opportunities for singing. Family members were early influencers. Her mother could play by ear. Grandparents sang gospel music. Her grandfather and his brother had a dance band that played on the radio in the 1940s. “I learned to play the piano,” Barr said, “because…it was just there. I was also lucky to have some really excellent music teachers.”
Over the last few years, Barr has continued as a solo artist, writing music and performing. She has three CDs out now, and authored a poetry book, There Will Always Be a Place. That title also the title of one of her original songs.
She and her husband, Jim Womeldorf, now own 333 Arts in Nucla, Colorado. Their ultimate goal is to be a place for music and poetry events, art shows, and more, “anything relating to the arts.”
“Jazz is my thing,” she said, “but it is only part of my repertoire. My identity as a singer/songwriter is very strong. I enjoy playing and performing a variety of music, including instrumental concert pieces, classical, old folk songs, like Judy Collins, pop, and of course…jazz.”
This variety is the theme of her “Musical Retrospective,” performed Friday, September 17th, at Montrose Methodist Church as a fundraiser for the Montrose Center for the Arts. Starting with an all-time favorite, Autumn Leaves, Barr ‘s Musical Retrospective is an intimate evening of beautiful music, all kinds of music about different things, and a special treat as we escape from a too-long Covid confinement.
Read more about Deb Barr here.