Billboard Interview

Debbie Gibson Talks New Music, Healthy Living & the Secret to Taylor Swift Staying ‘Graceful’

By Gary Trust

‘I’m finding what my life should be, for me to be happy,’ the pop music vet and actress says. ‘I don’t want to always feel like there’s a grizzly bear nipping at my heels and I have to keep up.’

“Can I indulge you for, like, four minutes?”

On an early April visit, Debbie Gibson is holding court in a conference room at Billboard‘s New York City offices for staffers who’ve packed in to meet and greet her. With unanimous approval of her request, Gibson commandeers her manager’s iPhone, gets it hooked up to the speaker system and plays a song that almost no one else has previously heard: “Turn It Around,” which she only recently wrote.

The track starts as a piano ballad and eventually kicks into disco-tinged dance, all while showing off Gibson’s uncommon gift for hooks that scored her five Billboard Hot 100 top 10s in 1987-89, before she’d even turned 20.

Upon the song’s conclusion, all agree that those four minutes were well-spent. (Gibson hears the song as a ballad, while a majority of attendees seem to lean toward its eventual release as an uptempo track.)

“This must be what it’s like to send your kids off to kindergarten,” Gibson, 44, muses after letting her new song out into the world.

Listen to Debbie Gibson’s “Promises.” You can purchase the song here.

After a lengthy break from releasing new music – she last charted when “Say Goodbye,” a duet with New Kid on the Block Jordan Knight hit No. 24 on Adult Contemporary in 2006 – Gibson is back with new single “Promises,” from the UP TV movie The Music in Me, which premiered April 12. The film casts Gibson, in the role of lead character Jessica, as having traded in her dreams of becoming a professional singer to care for her parents. Once home, she becomes choir director of a local church and her musical aspirations are revitalized. (DebHeads will appreciate that “Promises” is central to the movie’s plot and score.)

If you missed The Music in Me the first time, UP re-airs it tonight (April 24) at 9 p.m. ET.

While at Billboard, Gibson chatted one-on-one about a variety of topics, including steadily overcoming a battle against Lyme disease, how she looks back now at the hits that made her a household name and a dominant Billboard chart vet and what advice she has for young pop stars currently traveling the path that she originally helped forge so expertly.

Read the interview at



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