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Debbie Gibson Says Music Industry Has ‘Opened Wide Up’ for Stars Like Taylor Swift Since She Started Out (Exclusive)

Debbie Gibson Says Music Industry Is Way More Open for Taylor Swift
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Debbie Gibson is glad that the music industry has become more welcoming of women since she got her big break in the ‘80s.

“My late, great mom literally pounded her fists on the conference room table at Atlantic Records to drive the point home that a young girl could write and produce her own music. Now look at Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift and everybody who’s come after,” Gibson, 53, exclusively told Us Weekly at Lupus L.A.’s inaugural Cuisine for a Cause event at Vibiana on Sunday, May 19. “Nobody was warm and welcoming to female songwriters [when I started], let alone producers at that time. So, I mean, to me, the landscape has just opened wide up.”

Gibson went on to praise Swift, 34, as an “extraordinary” talent.

“[The Tortured Poets Department song] ‘I Can Do It With a Broken Heart’ is my new anthem,” Gibson said. “I think a lot of us kind of live that, and showbiz women live it. It’s like we get on stage and we sing and dance, and then we go cry in a corner later about our personal life. She’s done so much to move the style forward and to empower women.”

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The “Lost in Your Eyes” singer previously called Eilish, 22, “a wise old soul” during a November 2021 interview with The Guardian and said Eilish seemed to be “handling all the pressure” of being in the public eye “beautifully.”

While reflecting on how the industry has changed for women, Gibson imagined what it might be like if she were starting her career today.

“I just could imagine the stress and exhaustion that my mom and I exerted just to get past the gatekeepers to get to the starting gate could’ve been eliminated,” she said. “There’s a freedom now for young artists, for female artists and I think really for female creative visionaries.”

Debbie Gibson Says Music Industry Is Way More Open for Taylor Swift
Billie Eilish. Sarah Morris/WireImage

Gibson released her debut album, Out of the Blue, which she wrote and produced most of, in 1987. She went on to release 10 additional studio albums and is the sole songwriter on all of her singles to reach the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 including “Foolish Beat” and “Electric Youth.”

After more than 35 years in the music business, Gibson is now working on a memoir.

“I really call it a motivational memoir,” she told Us. “It’s not like a salacious tell-all. It’s always meant to be like, ‘Here’s what happened in my life.’ … There’s a lot about my late great mom, who was the original momager and bad ass music executive. It’s how you can twist and turn and re-emerge victorious. That’s really what it’s about.”

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Related: ‘80s Stars: Where Are They Now?

One of the twists and turns in Gibson’s life has been her battle with Lyme disease, which made her eager to support Lupus L.A.’s May 19 event honoring James Beard Award winner and Emmy-winning host of The Chew, restaurateur Michael Symon.

“I’ve dealt with Lyme disease for well over a decade. I feel like Lupus and Lyme, there’s so much in common,” Gibson said. “I remember when I was at the beginning of my journey and just a lot of autoimmune diseases were not at the tip of everyone’s tongue. So, just to have a night dedicated to the awareness [is important]. … I feel like people see this on social media. They see it in the news, and they go, ‘Oh, somebody’s thinking about when we’re home in pain and we’re feeling despondent.’”

With reporting by Andrea Simpson

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