Jazz singer Debbie Kirkland began singing as a child and attended the Duke Ellington School of Performing Arts in DC, where one of her classmates was future opera diva Deniece Graves. During her late teens, Kirkland spent a summer performing in a street theater program. While in college, one of Kirkland's favorite nightspots was Charlie's, a Georgetown jazz club whose stage hosted Rosemary Clooney, George Shearing, Mel Tormé and Nancy Wilson. One night at Charlie's, Wilson was introduced to Kirkland by D.C. jazz guitarist Bill Harris. The jazz legend became one of Kirkland's most ardent supporters. Graduating from the University of Maryland with a bachelor's degree (music in vocal performance), Kirkland joined a band and began touring Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. While in Italy, Kirkland was hired by an American composer to sing on the commercial jingles that he produced. One of the projects, a cover of "America the Beautiful," received a Dove/Steller Award nomination.
Her 1997 debut album Debbie Kirkland in Session is a collection of inventively arranged acoustic jazz. The album's first single, the lilting, ethereal "Who," was played on urban adult and contemporary jazz stations around the country. The Washington, D.C., native has shared the stage with George Duke, Lonnie Liston Smith, Jack McDuff, and Sonny Stitt. She's also appeared on Black Entertainment Television's BET on Jazz and performed at the prestigious Capitol Jazz Fest at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbus, MD. ~ Ed Hogan