How Debbie was inspired by Debbie
Image : Debbie Louise Cannon (l) and her inspiration Debbie Harry (r)
It’s International Women’s Day on 8th March. As their newest contributor, Inclusive Networks asked me if there was a female who had inspired me growing up. There was and I knew instantly who I would choose. The one and only Debbie Harry, front-lady of one of the finest bands to come out of the USA in the 1970’s – Blondie. I’m delighted to share why in my first feature for Inclusive Networks.
I recall when she first came on my radar in 1979 with the global hit “Heart of Glass”, watching her as a 9 year old I was mesmerised. She looked like a goddess to me – I was in awe. I loved every Blondie hit after that – I was a little obsessed with her. But I felt like it was something I had to hide. At that age I wanted to express myself as a female, but this being the late 1970’s early 1980’s the levels of education and awareness around transgender issues were very low. Thankfully, times are changing and many children today are able to speak to their parents about being transgender and there is also support available for families as well.
I was inspired by her so much that when it came to choosing my name as I started my transition there was really only one that I would choose. How many people can say they named themselves after their idol?
But for me it’s not just her beauty that stood out (even though she is incredibly beautiful), it was everything about her. She makes her own rules. She doesn’t live with the dogma of what society says art, music, expression and age has to be.
“I was inspired by her so much that when it came to choosing my name as I started my transition there was really only one that I would choose. How many people can say they named themselves after their idol?”
The video for the classic Blondie single ‘Heart of Glass’. Released in 1979, the single was a No1 hit around the world, including the UK and USA. It’s one of the biggest selling singles of all-time in the UK, with sales of 1.3 million copies.
In an age when disco was dying and punk was in, her music had its own unique sound taking influences from genres such as rap and reggae.
She has always been a feminist too, someone who has stood up for equal rights for woman, but in a quiet way. She exudes a level of inner strength, determination and fortitude that is so obvious now, in hindsight looking at the longevity of her career.
As with David Bowie, another icon of the same era; she constantly looks to re-invent herself, pushing her art form in new directions. Her work ethic is something that has to be admired.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph in 2015 just before her 70th birthday she said : “You have to look around, keep new influences coming in. A lot of people sort of pick a world to live in, and they’re comfortable in that – which can be disastrous.”
And that for me encapsulates everything I admire in this woman. She doesn’t follow the rules. She lives by her own.
If ever there was a role model for young woman to aspire to be, she is one that stands out for me.
It’s International Women’s Day on 8th March 2016.