I don’t just want to tell my story. I want to give people the space to tell their own stories. Stories in which people followed their own inner voice. Went in new directions. Broke rules. Grew. Because there are so many unbelievable stories that need to be told!
The story of Debby van Dooren
Who are you?
I am Debby van Dooren and I’m a singer, songwriter and voice over artist. I think I’m an optimistic person, relatively spontaneous and flexible. The problem is that I’m often quite impatient, and I talk a lot, but I’m not very good at listening. Those are two of my many faults.
What do you see as your calling?
I think my calling is music, writing songs, and transforming my story into texts, melodies and compositions.
When did you decide to follow your inner voice and what stumbling blocks were there along the way?
I grew up in a very musical family. My father was a pastor, my mother is an American and is also very musically talented. I’m the youngest of five girls, and there was always music in the house. I have been so fortunate that my parents always supported our talents and gifts. And I realized quite early, that that’s what I wanted to do, that’s what I love, that’s what sets my soul ablaze. Because my parents always supported me, I’ve always been able to do what I love. So I’ve never really had to think too long about what my calling is, it came naturally to me. The challenge is when you realize that not everything is just going to work out, and that you have to do a lot in order to get there, and everything won’t just fall into your lap.
As a child, I was the lead singer of a hip hop band, I took singing and dancing lessons and toured all over Germany, and after that, I was in musicals. Lots of things were very easy for me, and so I thought that’s how the rest of my life would be.
Then as a teenager, I started sending my songs to record companies, and I kept getting rejected because I didn’t fit their style, my music sounded too American, I was too young or wasn’t sexy enough. Lots of things that made me think a lot, and which, to this day, I find very challenging. I think any career in the arts is a challenge, it’s not easy money. But at the same time, I find it so fulfilling. Not just because of the music itself or because I find it fun, but because it has always been my vision to use the gifts God has given me. And I want to embolden other people with the songs I write. Through the stories I tell, through my songs and at my shows. It’s very important to me that my songs don’t just remain music, but that they go deeper, and touch and motivate people. I’m an open book, and am happy to share my story.
Are there parallels between your path and the Stranger’s project?
I think the Stranger’s project connects me and him in that artists are always hunting for inspiration. He went to the desert for inspiration. I believe that nature and music are closely connected, and I feel the same. I am also inspired by people, life stories, nature. And also just the desire to express oneself through music and to fill it with meaning.
How would you encourage other people to follow their inner voice?
For me, this is how you find your calling: What do you enjoy? What sets your soul on fire? Sometimes you need to dig deeper, but often it is something you’ve done your entire life, but never really thought about.
I learned for myself that it takes courage. It takes courage to say, this is my strength, I want to believe in that and give it my best and risk it all. I’m still working on that, on saying: I can be courageous and mustn’t underestimate myself, and I can believe in that. And at the end of the day, I believe that God can turn that into something larger than I can alone, a little human with my limitations.
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