Deborah Harry, the vocalist for Blondie, is a smart, successful businesswoman in her own right.
Over the years, she has released a handful of solo albums, one of which she was promoting when she spoke to me for an interview that was published in The Indiana Gazette on May 25, 1994, prior to a Pittsburgh appearance.
Since musicians who were popular in the late 1970s — such as The Knack and Meatloaf — are making successful comebacks, why shouldn’t Deborah Harry be included in the ranks?
Then … she never really left.
Last year, the former lead vocalist of Blondie, released “Debravation,” an album full of songs she co-wrote with longtime collaborator and former Blondie guitarist Chris Stein as well as with other musical luminaries, including Art of Noise’s Anne Dudley, Jon Astley and cyberpunk godfather William Gibson.
Her latest project was a role in an upcoming movie that took her to Seattle for filming.
Since the movie is not yet ready for release, Harry refrained from divulging details about it or her role.
She did talk about her current short tour, which brings her to Metropol in Pittsburgh May 26, and how she started acting.
“The easiest and simplest way to explain what got me interested was the advent of television,” Harry said.
Who were her influences?
“Let’s say Milton Berle, Ernie Kovaks and Rosemary Clooney,” Harry said. “I just wanted to, really. I did some extra work early on.
“When I was playing music in the early days with Blondie, a director friend was making his movies and I did little cameos in there. I always wanted to do it, so I kept trying.”
Her first real movie role was in “Union City” in 1979, Since then, she had parts in “Videodrome,” “Roadie” and the John Waters’ movie “Hairspray.”
She said instead of looking for movie roles, they have been “finding her.”
“It just sort of goes around like that.” Harry said. “I guess in interviews or something, it helps if I mention I like doing movies. I have an agent, so they usually approach me through him. The more people that you meet the better off you are, too.”
Having been lead vocalist for Blondie also helped Harry meet many people and gain national attention.
Overall, the female musician of the 1970s was viewed more as the sugar-coated trimming to the otherwise all-male cake.
Did it bother her to be seen as little more than a sex object?
“I think in the very beginning it was like that,” Harry said.
“That was the time when everybody was really confronting that issue a lot more heavier than now. It was just sort of part of the hype, I suppose … to create a controversy.”
In its heyday, Blondie scored with hits such as “Heart of Glass,” “One Way or Another,” “Call Me,” “The Tide is High” and “Rapture,” an early rap-style song she said ranked high on her list of Blondie favorites.
Did she ever think that after 20 years, she’d still be performing?
“Well, I wanted to,” Harry said. “Sometimes, I feel I’m not really in the business as much as I should be or could be, but I’m definitely still in it.
“I was always of the sort of mind that musicians were just pop fodder and they would come and go … I always wondered what happened to them. I guess that’s just the nature of the business, anyways. Popularity comes and goes.”
Asked about her live show, she laughed. “I’m just looking forward to performing and singing,” Harry said. “I’m going to be pretty casual about it, I suppose. I haven’t played for quite a bit. ”
Her biography sheet, furnished by both the record company and her publicist, lists “stand-up comedienne” as one of her talents. It’s a role, she laughingly denies.
“I don’t know how that got in there, it was probably one of those days,” Harry said. “I was doing little comedy sketches, little skits, but I’m definitely not a stand-up comic. Oh, no, no, no. I’m sometimes funny, but it’s always by accident.”
Recently, Harry has been credited co-writer on a song called “Supersensual” that appears on Australian singer Natalie Bassingthwaighte’s debut album “1000 Stars.”
The song samples the refrain from “Heart of Glass.” She also performed a duet with the French singer Etienne Daho on “Les Chansons de L’Innocence Retrouvée” (2013).
Harry and fellow Blondie member, Chris Stein, made a guest appearance in an episode of the web show Songify the News in 2015.