The Sunshine Coast musical community now counts among its members a singer-songwriter who might not be a household name, but probably should be, having sung, played and composed for years with some of the most accomplished and recognized pop musicians in the world.
Deborah Holland, born in Philadelphia and for many years a resident of Los Angeles, moved to Sechelt last winter after living for more than 10 years in Vancouver. She’ll be performing live for the first time since COVID hit nearly 18 months ago when she takes the stage on Saturday, Aug. 14 as part of the Sechelt Summer Music Series.
A performing musician and songwriter since her teens, it wasn’t until Holland was in her early 30s, in 1987, that she got the break of a lifetime after competing against hundreds of others to be in a new band with two members of The Police – drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers. The pair had teamed up with five-time Grammy-winning bassist Stanley Clarke, and they needed a singer who could also write great songs for their group, to be called Animal Logic.
“I had been the only woman in all-male bands my whole life,” Holland recalled in an interview. “So, I just decided I’m gonna go in and treat them just like they’re just regular-guy musicians.
“I was in a little duo at the time called Twang that did original country music. I went to the audition in what I was going to wear to a Twang gig that night, a pink thrift-store dress and cowboy boots. All the other girls were in spandex and lots of makeup.”
Whether or not the guys noticed her alt clothing, Holland’s songs and voice did get their attention. She won the job. Summers soon left for other projects, but two albums with Animal Logic followed, with all songs written by Holland. She joined Copeland and Clarke in 2019 to record another batch of her tunes, but the pandemic has so far stymied any performing reunion.
Now a Canadian citizen, Holland has released six solo albums over the years, the latest, Fine, Thank You!, issued in 2020. She has also scored a number of Hollywood films, and put out two albums and an EP as part of the trio The Refugees, with Wendy Waldman and Cidny Bullens.
When asked what brought her to our little corner of the world, Holland said she spent a few days last summer in Tuwanek. Though she loves Vancouver’s abundance of arts and culture, she said, “I like being in a place that does seem quieter, more peaceful. The older I get (she turns 67 this month), the more I enjoy being in nature. And I still go to Vancouver a lot. So, I get my fix.”
Holland will be accompanied on a few tunes at the noon, Aug. 14 show by local singer-guitarist Michael Friedman, who’s known Holland for about 10 years and has always seen her as something of a trailblazer.
“She’s a force of nature,” said Friedman. “She’s not too afraid of too many things.”