Debra Fotheringham

Debra Fotheringham

 Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
SoloFolkAmericana

With a voice that's clear and effortlessly melodic, a guitar style that pivots between fluid fingerstyle and syncopated rhythms, and lyrics that reveal thoughtfulness and intelligence, Debra Fotheringham is a singular talent who never fails to leave her mark on your heart.

Band Press

Local Sounds: Debra Fotheringham – Square Magazine

By Zach Pendleton
(Published in the September/October 2005 issue)

It seems like everyone in Utah County plays guitar. From your next door neighbor to your best friend to my mother's cat, everybody here has written a few sappy songs that they'd love to impress you with. The problem? None of them are very impressive. The acoustic singer-songwriter vein has been so thoroughly tapped in the valley that it's hard to remember why it was ever popular in the first place. Thankfully there are artists like Debra Fotheringham to remind us.

The daughter of a jazz aficionado, Fotheringham reveals in her debut album that her influences run deeper than the average folkies. She may hold an acoustic guitar and sing about the occasional relationship, but her music isn't that simple, often leaving folk's simplicity to explore jazz phrasings and rock rhythms. On songs like "Marathon Runner" and "Fire," her guitar playing is reminiscent of a young Ani DiFranco. On all of her songs and her clear vocals draw attention to lyrics that--while sometimes trite--are usually worth paying attention to.

Her eclectic style fits as easily in a full-band show as it does a living room, as evidenced by her appearances this year everywhere from the Sandy Amphitheater to a fan's backyard in Provo. It seems like no place is too small for this hard-working musician, and her website details her adventures through the west, sleeping in cars, looking at stars, and finding Seattle's perfect open air market. Fotheringham's honesty and humanity are as appealing as her talents. While the latter, now good, are sure to improve, one can only hope that her kindness and accessibility never change. Her online tour journal, myspace.com page, and willingness to play in your (yes, your) backyard make it easy to forget that she's a rising star and not just the girl next door.

In short, Debra Fotheringham's music is sure to appeal to fans of Peter Breinholt, Nancy Hansen, and Ryan Shupe, but even those of you who have a vendetta against Utah County's bloated folk scene might by pleasantly surprised. After all, she's better than my mother's cat.

Rock-n-Rollment Class Favorites – Square Magazine

By Taylor Hawes
(Published in the September/October 2006 issue)

Quite possibly Tori Amos without the edge with a twinge of country, Debra's clarion and unimpeded inflection is never drowned out by her uncomplicated guitar backing. Her newer tunes reflect her improvement in her lyric writing and harmonic progressions. And perhaps her biggest influence was listening to all that jazz music that her dad played ever since she could remember. Though her style is folk rock, there is no doubt that Ella Fitzgerald's pipes inspired many of Debra's tonality.

Singer aims for big time, small crowd – Deseret News

By David Rasmussen
(Published March 31, 2007)

A few years ago at the old Wrapsody Club on University Avenue in Provo, a teenager sat under the bright lights, trembling from a mix of anticipation and nervousness.
"I was scared out of my mind," said Debra Fotheringham.
Fotheringham, 15 years old at the time, sang a few jazz standards with a small combo group, her first performance in front of a live audience.
"I was shaking through the whole thing," she said. "But it was exhilarating."
Since that day seven years ago, Fotheringham, an American Fork native, has played hundreds of shows, with her audiences ranging in size from less than a dozen people to a few thousand. Her music has been featured in a number of house shows, movie soundtracks and radio spots, with her first album to debut in late April.
She's gone on performing tours, even venturing to South Carolina and New York.
Yet Fotheringham still prefers to play for the smaller crowds.
"I don't really like big shows, to be honest," she said. "There are so many people that it feels like a big entity instead of people in a room listening to you play. My music's very lyric driven, so if I feel the lyrics aren't coming across, then I just don't like it as much."
After playing for free at bookstores and cafes, Fotheringham has taken her show on the road, often traveling to nearby states with another local artist to promote their music.
With the growing popularity came added exposure. In 2005, Fotheringham was voted Favorite Local Performer in a Utah Valley Magazine poll. Her talents have also been featured on a number of LDS music compilations, including "The R.M." movie soundtrack and "A Very Singles Christmas."
Fotheringham's musical style, however, reaches beyond the LDS realm. With a self-described "alternative, folky-rock pop" style, Fotheringham's songs combine elements of many different styles.
Fotheringham struggles daily with the inherent difficulties faced by independent musicians. The logistics of booking venues, finding funds for touring and dealing with marketing issues take their toll at times.
"It's like you're trying to run a business and be the product at the same time," she said. "Sometimes it can get frustrating. I've never been very good at promoting myself."
Although the process of self-promotion is a consuming one, Fotheringham said a desire to give her audience a moving experience is more of a motivation than any revenue she could gain from ticket sales.
"I believe everybody loves music; everyone can connect to some aspect of music, and that's really what I want to focus on," she said. "I don't want to get too caught up in the marketing side of it but try to make it more so that I'm writing songs that people can relate to and are affected by. That's the whole point."
Fotheringham's first album will debut April 27.
Having spent the last few months recording at a studio in Draper, Fotheringham said she has benefited greatly from the talents of producer Giles Reaves. Reaves, a native of Nashville, recently moved to Salt Lake City after an extensive career working with artists like Patty Griffin and Chantal Kreviazuk.
"I've been wanting to do an album for about five years, I just haven't had the means," Fotheringham said. "Finally, I have the money and all the materials to make it. I'm really excited. It's kind of the culmination of everything I've been working towards."
After the album release, Fotheringham's touring plans remain open. And though her future surely holds opportunities to play in front of thousands of fans at larger venues, Fotheringham said her true love lies in catering to intimate crowds, audiences in which she can see every listener's face and feel their reaction to her music.
"I love the emotional connection that I feel when an audience can really connect with a song. It's just a sense of community," she said. "You don't really get that strong of an emotional connection any other way than through music with the people around you."

Local musician's summer reign begins – UVSC College Times

By Jason Pyles
(Published April 16, 2007
Having returned from performing in New York and Washington, singer songwriter Debra Fotheringham is preparing to launch the release of her new album, Debra Fotheringham, with a concert on April 27.

The 23-year-old musician has been refining her music for a decade, developing her own voice and style that can best be described as alternative-folk-jazz.

Fotheringham is often compared to Norah Jones, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan and Edie Brickell.

Fotheringham, who typically plays solo, will be accompanied by a band during her performance at the Tahitian Noni Auditorium in Provo (located west of the Riverwoods Shopping Center). Bryant Bunnell will be the opening act of the show, beginning at 7 p.m.

Her self-titled release, Debra Fotheringham, is a 10-track CD produced and engineered at Annex Recording in Draper, Utah. It will be available at the show for $10. Fotheringham said this is her first professional, fully produced album.

"The CD is a little old sounding -- so everything's not precise and sonically clear -- but it's kind of warm. We were going for a vintage combo feel that sounds intimate and close," Fotheringham said.

The album's cover was photographed by Russ Dixon (formally of the popular band, Colors). The singer calls the cover's picture "playful, artistic whimsy." "I really wanted a cover that wasn't all serious and pretentious," Fotheringham said.

"Lyrically, the album seems to have a water theme: "Across Oceans," "Waterfall," "Summer Rain," but that was unintentional," Fotheringham said.

The songwriter used to be more vague in her lyric writing -- careful not to reveal too much -- but that has changed: "I've approached songwriting differently because I want people to get something out of it -- whether or not it's what I intended -- as long as it touches people." She continued, "Performers come and go, but a really good song can last generations."

Fotheringham is perhaps best known for her smooth, jazzy voice and impressive vocal range. Her live performances have the precision of a studio recording. Fotheringham's shows are never disappointing.

Fotheringham plans to continue to pursue her professional music career: "I think living your dream is the most important thing; one of the saddest things to me is spending your days doing something you hate," Fotheringham said.

"I really want to do this for a living: I love music, I love to travel, and I love having different things, every day."

Reader's Choice Awards 2004 – Utah Valley Magazine

(Published in the January/February 2004 issue)

"Utah Valley's Favorite Local Performer"

Pods make it a wide open mic night – Long Island Newsday

By Steven Snyder
(Published March 20, 2007)

Debra Fotheringham has traveled quite the long way for an open mic night.

Venturing some 2,200 miles from American Fork, Utah, this acoustic folk rocker plans to take the stage tomorrow night at the cozy Cool Beanz coffee shop in St. James, the featured performer at a weekly open mic night that regularly draws more than 50 local artists.

But that supportive Long Island crowd is only part of the reason she made the trip.

Even more appealing to her, as well as to hundreds of other performers who have made much the same journey over the past year, is the prospect of being chosen for the "Acoustic Long Island" podcast.

"Things like MySpace and podcasts are changing the whole way the music business works," Fotheringham says with marvel. "This is not just a local market anymore. It's not even about CDs anymore, but about reaching people halfway around the world."

She knows her open mic performance in St. James might well go on to reach more than 10,000 listeners in every corner of the globe.

Serenading the 'Skies' – The Daily Universe

By Logan Molyneux
(Published March 11, 2005)

The menu on the wall is the only way to distinguish the Vermilion Skies Cafe from a living room. The other walls in the Provo venue are lined with couches, armchairs, and bookshelves. Above the couches and tables, a section of the wall is plastered with scraps of paper containing drawings and short poems like a family refrigerator.

The place feels more like a home with a cash register than a cafe with couches. To complete the atmosphere, Vermilion Skies hosts poetry readings on Wednesday nights and local musicians on the weekends.

Singer Songwriters Debra Fotheringham and Stephanie Smith will bring their distinct music styles to the cafe at 8pm Friday.

Fotheringham said her sound is earthy, more roots and jazz oriented, while Smith's is more smooth and lyrical.

"My dad was a jazz musician," Fotheringham said. "He has probably a thousand jazz CDs that I grew up listening to, so that's been a big influence on me."

She said she really likes Brazilian rhythms and artists such as Antonio Carlos-Jobim. Some of her favorite vocalists are Ella Fitzgerald and Norah Jones.

...Their musical styles contrast but Fotheringham and Smith think it's better that way. They've been doing concerts together since they met almost two years ago.

"We both have pretty different styles, so our show isn't boring," Fotheringham said, "but they're not so different that they don't go together."

Teaming up has worked well for them. Both musicians were asked to record in Nashville this May so they can pitch their music to producers in the area. While neither one is sure where this opportunity will lead, they are both excited. Smith and Fotheringham attriute their recording offer to good networking.

"It's all about who you know," Fotheringham said. "That makes all the difference."

Other keys to success, they said, are an e-mail list and a website to keep fans informed. Fotheringham advised other musicians to give concerts, even free ones, whenever possible.

"Play everywhere, as much as you can," she said. "Things like open mic nights are great."

Smith suggested that getting a gimmick might be the key to standing out and drawing and audience here in Provo.

"I've seen so many performers around here with some sort of gimmick," she said,"so I told Debra we should probably get a dancing monkey or something."

Serenading the 'Skies' – The Daily Universe

By Logan Molyneux
(Published March 11, 2005)

The menu on the wall is the only way to distinguish the Vermilion Skies Cafe from a living room. The other walls in the Provo venue are lined with couches, armchairs, and bookshelves. Above the couches and tables, a section of the wall is plastered with scraps of paper containing drawings and short poems like a family refrigerator.

The place feels more like a home with a cash register than a cafe with couches. To complete the atmosphere, Vermilion Skies hosts poetry readings on Wednesday nights and local musicians on the weekends.

Singer Songwriters Debra Fotheringham and Stephanie Smith will bring their distinct music styles to the cafe at 8pm Friday.

Fotheringham said her sound is earthy, more roots and jazz oriented, while Smith's is more smooth and lyrical.

"My dad was a jazz musician," Fotheringham said. "He has probably a thousand jazz CDs that I grew up listening to, so that's been a big influence on me."

She said she really likes Brazilian rhythms and artists such as Antonio Carlos-Jobim. Some of her favorite vocalists are Ella Fitzgerald and Norah Jones.

...Their musical styles contrast but Fotheringham and Smith think it's better that way. They've been doing concerts together since they met almost two years ago.

"We both have pretty different styles, so our show isn't boring," Fotheringham said, "but they're not so different that they don't go together."

Teaming up has worked well for them. Both musicians were asked to record in Nashville this May so they can pitch their music to producers in the area. While neither one is sure where this opportunity will lead, they are both excited. Smith and Fotheringham attriute their recording offer to good networking.

"It's all about who you know," Fotheringham said. "That makes all the difference."

Other keys to success, they said, are an e-mail list and a website to keep fans informed. Fotheringham advised other musicians to give concerts, even free ones, whenever possible.

"Play everywhere, as much as you can," she said. "Things like open mic nights are great."

Smith suggested that getting a gimmick might be the key to standing out and drawing and audience here in Provo.

"I've seen so many performers around here with some sort of gimmick," she said,"so I told Debra we should probably get a dancing monkey or something."

Lack of German doesn't detour American Fork artist from expressing herself through music – The Daily Herald

By Krystin Anderson
(Published February 14, 2008)

In a small venue across the Atlantic Ocean, American Fork-born Debra Fotheringham stood before a crowd of Germans and called out an uncertain "Guten Abend," meriting a few chuckles. Undiscouraged, she turned to her guitar and let her music speak for her.
More than a year earlier, her voice caught the attention of Russ Dixon, former member of Utah band "Colors," who will perform with Fotheringham on Saturday at the Tahitian Noni Auditorium for a Valentine's Day concert.

"The first time I heard her play I knew she was the real deal," he said. "She's got one of the cleanest, purest voices I think I've ever heard."

The two have never played together before, but Dixon said he is excited to be her guest artist and "add a little flavor," which could include some freestyle rap.

"I like to rap a little here and there," Dixon said, "so I may ask her to pull out the drums on Saturday and maybe we'll do a little rap. That would be fun."

Unknown to most are Fotheringham's skills on hand percussion instruments, which Dixon said she has played for other local musicians.

"She's actually a really good drummer," Dixon said. "She won't brag about her percussion skills, but someone should."

Fotheringham gives away her percussive abilities, however, in the way she plays the guitar.

"There's such a wide range of sounds you can get from a guitar, and it's a little bit percussive," Fotheringham said. "I can kind of be a percussionist and a guitarist at the same time while I play the guitar."

Her music is primarily folk with a strain of pop, a combination of factors that sparked the interest of Kurt Hale, co-founder of Halestorm Entertainment, who heard her play at Border's Bookstore and offered her a spot on "The R.M." soundtrack.

This helped get her name out of Utah and opened her career to the national and international scene. In 2007, after releasing her self-titled album, she took advantage of that scene and toured across the United States, even crossing into Europe through France, Germany and Scotland.

"It was awesome," she said. "It was a little difficult because of the language barrier thing, but it seemed that music was the universal language ... but the between-song banter was kind of cut short."

Lack of German doesn't detour American Fork artist from expressing herself through music – The Daily Herald

By Krystin Anderson
(Published February 14, 2008)

In a small venue across the Atlantic Ocean, American Fork-born Debra Fotheringham stood before a crowd of Germans and called out an uncertain "Guten Abend," meriting a few chuckles. Undiscouraged, she turned to her guitar and let her music speak for her.
More than a year earlier, her voice caught the attention of Russ Dixon, former member of Utah band "Colors," who will perform with Fotheringham on Saturday at the Tahitian Noni Auditorium for a Valentine's Day concert.

"The first time I heard her play I knew she was the real deal," he said. "She's got one of the cleanest, purest voices I think I've ever heard."

The two have never played together before, but Dixon said he is excited to be her guest artist and "add a little flavor," which could include some freestyle rap.

"I like to rap a little here and there," Dixon said, "so I may ask her to pull out the drums on Saturday and maybe we'll do a little rap. That would be fun."

Unknown to most are Fotheringham's skills on hand percussion instruments, which Dixon said she has played for other local musicians.

"She's actually a really good drummer," Dixon said. "She won't brag about her percussion skills, but someone should."

Fotheringham gives away her percussive abilities, however, in the way she plays the guitar.

"There's such a wide range of sounds you can get from a guitar, and it's a little bit percussive," Fotheringham said. "I can kind of be a percussionist and a guitarist at the same time while I play the guitar."

Her music is primarily folk with a strain of pop, a combination of factors that sparked the interest of Kurt Hale, co-founder of Halestorm Entertainment, who heard her play at Border's Bookstore and offered her a spot on "The R.M." soundtrack.

This helped get her name out of Utah and opened her career to the national and international scene. In 2007, after releasing her self-titled album, she took advantage of that scene and toured across the United States, even crossing into Europe through France, Germany and Scotland.

"It was awesome," she said. "It was a little difficult because of the language barrier thing, but it seemed that music was the universal language ... but the between-song banter was kind of cut short."