“This feels like an old-school promo week,” Debbie Gibson says at Billboard‘s New York offices at around 1 in the afternoon on Friday, Aug. 26. Her visit to tape a Chart Beat Podcast follows a night of no sleep leading up to an appearance – a full concert, really (outside on the corner of 48th and 6th) – on Fox & Friends that began, after earlier sound checking, at 7 that morning.
But, she’s excited to promote her new Hallmark Channel movie, Summer of Dreams, which premiered Aug. 27 (and repeats this Saturday, Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. ET).
She’s also been fond of Billboard ever since first hitting the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987 with her first of five top 10s, “Only in My Dreams,” a new ballad version of which she recorded for the film, and has released commercially, for charity.
“I don’t have Gold records on my walls in my house. I used to, I had that whole, ‘This is not a house. This is a shrine … to me!,’ ” Gibson says with a laugh. “Now, the only thing I have up is my ‘Foolish Beat’ No. 1 plaque.” The award honors her 1988 ballad that made her the youngest female artist to write, perform and produce a Hot 100 No. 1, a record that still stands.
On the latest episode of the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast, hosted by Billboard co-director of charts (and #DebHead) Gary Trust, Gibson shares stories from throughout her career, from her chart arrival as a teen to her branching out to Broadway and film roles. She also muses about meeting the likes of late legends Michael Jackson and Prince.
Of the latter, she says, “I met him at the time he was not talking directly to people. He was talking to people though his bodyguard (chuckles). It was Atlantic’s after-party for the Grammys. Prince’s bodyguard came up to me and said, ‘Um, Prince would like to meet you and say hi.’ Prince came over and I was, like, ‘Hi!’ Prince whispered something to his bodyguard, and his bodyguard said, ‘Prince thinks you’re really talented, and congratulations on all your success.’ I was like, ‘Thank you … I mean, thank him … for me …’ I didn’t know who to thank …
“Needless to say, it was a tremendous compliment, and I never forgot it.”
Gibson also discusses Summer of Dreams, an idea of hers several years in the making. In the movie she plays doppelgänger Debbie Taylor, a pop star traversing the peaks and valleys of the music business and, ultimately, reevaluating her priorities and maximizing her many skills, sound advice for any artist at any career stage, especially in an era of countless DIY success stories. Talking specifically about her character in the film, but echoing her own sentiments, she asks, “Why can’t I do this on my terms? That’s where I have come to. We now live in a world where you can do showbiz on your own terms, and have a balanced life.”
Enjoy the entire latest Chart Beat Podcast (posting on Gibson’s birthday!) and check back for more upcoming episodes with artists, label executives, radio programmers and personalities, songwriters, producers and more. And, to receive every episode automatically in your inbox, subscribe to (and rate) the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast on iTunes!