Whatever the secret is, she has discovered it."
-Tony Zotta, President, SongDoor International
"Why don't you become a lawyer?”
That was the advice given to 12-year-old Debra Gussin by her mother.
But Debra was interested in setting a different bar.
“At 12, I discovered a passion for music. When my mom took me to my first Broadway musical,
and my sister took me to my first concert, the music took me to another universe altogether.”
Though her career would lead Debra on a journey through television and the entertainment industry,
music was always along for the ride.
Born and raised in New York, Debra earned a dual-degree in Television Production and
Marketing Management from Syracuse University.
After working on the Mickey Rourke film, “Year of the Dragon,” she landed at "ABC's Wide World
of Sports." The compelling drama surrounding the ‘thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat,’
evoked a sense of storytelling in Debra, revealing a truth and authenticity that would later be
infused into the vibrant scenarios of her songs.
Debra continued her television career in Los Angeles, working on numerous programs including
the "Daytime Emmy Awards," "Fox Sports News," "Wolfgang Puck," and "Dr. Phil."
While working on the launch of the National Geographic Channel, Debra's colleague
introduced her to multi-platinum lyricist, Marty Panzer (Barry Manilow, Kenny Rogers, Disney).
That life-changing moment unexpectedly launched her into the wide world of songwriting.
“I enrolled in Panzer’s Master Class at UCLA Extension, and from that moment on, I was hooked.”
After winning the Concord Records & Barry Manilow Songwriting Scholarship - four times,
Debra took a sabbatical from her television career, and left the "Dr. Phil" show to focus on
songwriting full time. She proceeded to win more than thirty international songwriting competitions,
including the Grand Prize and Lennon Award in the prestigious John Lennon Song Contest,
and was commissioned by the Federal Trade Commission to co-write catchy commercial jingles for
AnnualCreditReport.com, which won the CINE Golden Eagle Award for Best Public Service Announcement. These songs have been heard on NPR Radio, and quoted in numerous publications nationwide, including the LA Times and the NY Times.
From there, UCLA Extension commissioned her striking anthem, THIS IS OUR TIME, as their
Official Graduation Song. The song received it's WORLD PREMIERE at Royce Hall in Los Angeles, where Erich Bergen (Jersey Boys, Madam Secretary) performed to a sold-out crowd. Bernice Reyes, the newly-crowned winner of OTTAWA IDOL, has just released THIS IS OUR TIME as her Debut Single. In 2018, the song will appear in "A Sunday Horse," a feature film starring Nikki Reed, Linda Hamilton and William Shatner.
Debra's songs have enjoyed a number of TV placements, recently featured in the CW Network's 90210, NBC's primetime drama THE EVENT, E! Entertainment's KOURTNEY & KIM TAKE NEW YORK, SPEED Network's NASCAR RACE HUB, and the UK's IT'S ONLY THE BEGINNING.
In addition to co-writing songs with actor/composer Don Grady (My Three Sons, Disney) for his
BOOMER: JazRokPop EP, and international Singer/Songwriter Kyle Vincent, for his album DETOUR, Debra's lyrics have illuminated the lights of Off-Broadway in the short musical, THE DEPENDENTS. She is currently the lyricist of TURMOIL! A New Musical.
Debra continues to make her mark writing songs with command and vision for the pop, rock, dance, country, and Hot AC markets. Her songs have been cut by Warner Music Spain artist INNOCENCE, and the 2012 & 2014 winners of OTTAWA IDOL.
Debra was just named Best Lyricist at the 2017 HOLLYWOOD MUSIC IN MEDIA AWARDS, having previously won in 2016, as well as winning Best Adult Contemporary/AAA Song. She recently collaborated with Weezer's Brian Bell writing rock songs for his band The Relationship, who's new record "Clara Obscura" is available now.
"One of the reasons I became a songwriter, and not a lawyer, is that law is about 'black and white.' Songwriting is about all the shades in between. I like shades."