Self-professed rock-pop singer De'borah Garner did more than just belt out an electrifying and soulful rendition of Train's "Hey Soul Sister" on the opening audition of season three of The Voice. She also unflinchingly blazed, "Boom! I'm gay!" Several weeks and some 400,000 plus YouTube views later, De'borah is capturing the attention of music lovers and social justice advocates and for good reason. She's a fierce vocalist who isn’t afraid to be true to herself and to her art. Ebony caught up with De'borah to ask her about life, music, and her big audition for The Voice. Here's what she had to say:
EBONY: Why did you choose to audition for The Voice? What did you hope to gain from the experience?
De’Borah: Funny story: I had no idea about the show until the Super Bowl. Shortly after, my sister called me and told me she signed me up…WHAT? I told her I wouldn't be accepted because of my appearance, but I somehow found myself auditioning at the open call. I hoped to expand my fans, not knowing I would become a Celebrity overnight. The experience overall? I can’t believe my voice has been heard all over the world. I'm still in shock of the success so far.
EBONY: It was clear that the audience was blown away by your audition performance. You also disclosed that you were gay for the first time. What were you thinking in that moment and how did you feel when it was over?
De’Borah: There hasn't been a time in my life where I was asked if I was gay. I never believed in a certain type of love: who you love is your own choice. With that being said, the assumptions made because of my appearance are true. "Boom, I'm gay!" The moment I uttered those words, I became an inspiration to those who felt the need to hide because of work-related or religious views. I don't mind the attention. However, it seems to be the most important thing right now. There's more to me than my sexual preference. Stay tuned to the show…
EBONY: Your parents were with you during your audition. How did they respond to your performance and announcement?
De’Borah: My parents always support me. When I would run around the States singing, they'd be in the same spot the world got to see them in on the show. They are the reason I sing! Both pastors and teachers, they’ve never left my side. Nothing said on The Voice was a shocker. They expect nothing but excellence from me due to them shaping and molding me into who I am today.
EBONY: Your voice is so unique–a mix of punk, gospel, soul, and hip-hop vocalizing. How would you describe your musical style and artist persona? Who are your inspirations?
De’Borah: My voice is a blend of everything I've ever heard. Gospel being the foundation, I was able to quickly branch off to perform just about any style of music. My persona comes off very soulful; however, I lean more towards rock-pop. My goal is to create a new style of music. I cannot be tamed with my creativity. My inspirations are: Pink, Maroon 5, ColdPlay, Hawkins, The Clark Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, Natasha Bedingfield, King, Beyonce, and Chris Brown (just to name a few).
EBONY: You mentioned that your religious background has shaped your thinking on sexuality. How are you reconciling your religious beliefs and sexual identity? How does it impact your artistry?
De’Borah: I am a "church girl." That is what I grew up knowing and later studied for my own personal reasons. My sexual preference has nothing to do with my religious beliefs. God created me to be how I am and knew who I was to become before I did. The man-based traditions to Christianity is what I am NOT concerned with. Let's face it: there's a new rule created every week in Christianity. There were times when I showed up to engagements and was fired for my appearance. I am not easily shaken. Nothing or no man can get in the way of my music. I go to church to praise the Lord and will not be concerned with the ignorance of the people at church. Jesus said: let he who is without sin cast the first stone. All rocks should be removed from society!
EBONY: I assume you are receiving a lot of love (and perhaps some hate too). How are you managing your increasing popularity and visibility?
De’Borah: I love every bit of the attention. Whether it’s good or bad comments…I made you look! I appreciate all of the love. I feel like I've gained 400,000 friends.