Debbie (Deborah) Kay Henning
Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist/Recording artist/Audio and Video producer
Born in St. Charles, Missouri, a city just outside of blues hot spot St. Louis, Debbie Henning expressed a love for music at a very young age. When the music stopped in the 1861 church where she was raised, the baby in diapers cried out, "MORE MUSIK, MORE MUSIK!" It's been that way since.
Henning was just 8 when she decided to teach herself guitar. With no instrument of her own, she improvised by sneaking around to play an older sibling's guitar. And, that wasn't the only instrument Henning learned to play. By age 13, she was playing organ at Sunday services.
A year later, 14-year-old Henning laid claim to her first guitar — a 12-string, given to her as a reward for having brought up her grades. From that point on, she was unstoppable.
By age 15, Henning was playing guitar mass and teaching other teens to play as well. At 16, she was winning talent contests in school and played a wedding solo. At 17, she began playing solo gigs at Shakey's Pizza, a popular family eatery.
One year later, Henning, 18, survived a bad car wreck and an even worse marriage — walking away from both more determined than ever. Shortly afterwards, the 20-year-old musician found herself on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Thus began a musical journey that would span 38 states before Henning eventually landed in Chickasha, OK, and later, settled in Oklahoma City where she resides to this day.
Henning's long love affair with music culminated early on in a true passion for the blues — and a desire to share that passion with others. She is quick to tell those who might turn their noses up at the genre: "There are two kinds of people in the world — those that like the blues, and those that don't KNOW they like the blues yet."
For Henning, it wasn't enough to just play and sing the blues. She had stories to tell, and her first foray into songwriting met with almost immediate success.
Prompted by a local radio station, Henning wrote, recorded and received airplay of her first original song, all in the span of just one week. Other radio stations picked it up and "On the Radio" was off and running. To this day, the song continues to receive international airplay along with 47 other recorded tunes, 23 of which are originals. She also appears on the Oklahoma Blues Society compilation, HomeGrown Blues with her original, "Oh Well".
In addition to making her original blues music available to the public by way of popular download sites, Henning has been sharing Oklahoma blues with listeners from all around the world for the past 11 years via the virtual world of Second Life.
There, Henning appears as an avatar that goes by the name Blue4u Nowicka, and performs live, weekly 1-hour shows for international audiences — all free to the listener. At her virtual shows, Henning also passes out Dusk ‘til Dawn and Oklahoma Blues Society T-shirts to other avatars.
Also within Second Life, Henning has broadcast live with musicians from all around the world using a method called dual streaming or piggybacking.
Known for her captivating in-person performances, 12-string slide and finger-picking skills, Henning has been invited to play on a regular basis at many of the longest-running festivals in the U.S. including Dusk ‘til Dawn, The Arcadia Blues Fest, Paseo Fest, Festival of the Arts, and Arts Fest of Oklahoma.
In addition, she was the winner of the Women of mp3.com contest, a semi-finalist in the Marlboro national talent round-up that carried a $75,000 prize, has received airplay on numerous Oklahoma radio stations including KRXO, KGOU, KTMC, KOOL and K-LTE, and is the Community Producer of more than 50 videos broadcast on Cox Cable.
Determined to keep the blues alive for many years to come, Henning also acts as a mentor to the younger generation.
Fourteen-year-old Chad Dorris appears on lead guitar on “Ash Tuesday,” an original that went #1 in the General Blues genre on the former mp3.com. It was written about a fire in Guthrie, Oklahoma in September 2000 which destroyed 40 homes. Blues with an environmental message.
Shawna Kennedy, 17, appears with a violin, once belonging to Debbie's father, Val on "Amazing Grace" and 17-year-old Patrisha Henning, Debbie's daughter, plays cello. It was engineered by Henning for her mother, Beverly as a Mother’s Day gift. Patrisha also lends both lead and harmony vocals, along with cello, on several of Henning’s other recordings. Patrisha began playing professionally with her mother at the age of 12.
Along her musical journey, Henning has caught the attention of other talented musicians. Her "Shades of Blue" CD, was produced by Mark Lyon, a W.C. Handy award nominee, and features three-time world fiddle champ Byron Berline on mandolin and fiddle. Grammy-award winner Jim Warren provided the artwork.
Henning said she is grateful for that support, and that she owes much of her success to others.
"I am a reflection of every musician I have ever sat down to play with.”