Debbie Harwood is a multi-award winning New Zealand solo artist and producer. She has also lent her voice and production skills to countless solo projects and recordings of other NZ artists over the last 40 years along with her legendary work as a founding member of When The Cat’s Away.
“Writing a song in the middle of the night while the children slept; walking on a stage on a freezing night in a small grateful NZ town and the music flying; rehearsing over cups of tea in a dingy flat; spending months in the studio day and night building up the beautiful strands of songs that started as dreams; breathing my voice onto the genius songs of others both live and in a studio – that is the life I have lived. Almost a secret world. But those moments are hard things to write about or quantify because they have no markers – no evidence, nothing a human mind can grasp or understand. So everyone focuses on awards and chart placements and numbers but none of those things matter at all to me. Everything good about the making of music (and my life in it) has been the firefly moments of pure bliss that will never happen again. The Sun is a little piece of evidence that those myriad moments existed.”
While wearing multiple industry hats, Harwood has always been a solo artist and songwriter first and foremost, and over her prolific career, has penned a private songbook that has culminated in the release of her original album ‘The Sun’. With music always being the constant driving force, Harwood’s long career in the industry as an artist ran parallel with tour management, management and independent record company roles (alongside Mike Chunn at Mushroom NZ) for many successful NZ acts including DD Smash, The Exponents, Citizen Band, Big Sideways and Blam Blam Blam to name a few.
A major turning point would come on a chance meeting between four young wahine toa at the 1985 NZ Music Awards – Harwood, Annie Crummer, Margaret Urlich and Dianne Swann. With the addition of Kim Willoughby the rest was her-story. In 1986, When The Cat’s Away would become New Zealand’s biggest touring act playing to packed-out crowds around the country, until 1990 saw them back on their respective solo paths.
When The Cat’s Away went on to receive ‘Top Group’ at the 1989 NZ Music Awards, achieved a #1 chart hit with ‘Melting Pot’ and sold out seven national New Zealand tours including the legendary Melting Pot Tour (1988) which became the most attended tour for a Kiwi band – a title only recently usurped (some 30 years later) by Six60.
Following a move to Australia, Harwood would lend her signature smoky rock vocals to Jimmy Barnes’ Soul Deep and Two Fire tours throughout 1990 to 1992. She had met her match.
In 2001 the reformed When The Cat’s Away undertook a sold-out New Zealand tour culminating in three shows at Auckland’s Aotea Centre where a new album ‘Live In Paradise’ was recorded with dear friend Sharon O’Neill. The single ‘Asian Paradise’ was another Top 10 radio hit and the album reached close to double-Platinum sales.
The release of her jazz album ‘Soothe Me’ saw her as a finalist for Top Female Artist at the 2006 NZ Music Awards. In 2009 Debbie conceptualised Give It a Girl – an original hit-laden show featuring Annie Crummer, Margaret Urlich, Sharon O’Neill, Shona Laing and herself. Debbie continues to work with her band The Band of Gold and also with variations of the Give It a Girl line-up. Her most recent release ‘The Sun’ is a highlight of her career and has opened the sleuce gates for more original recordings. Debbie has two children Marlon and Gala and is also a certified clinical hypnotherapist.
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Having ‘Debbie Harwood and the Band of Gold’ was like having our own private Kiwi rock concert. She and her band are great entertainers who do a lot more than just sing and play – they really engage with the crowd and get everyone up dancing and having a great time. Plus they don’t take a break; they keep it going, holding the audience by choosing the right songs at the right time.
– Cynthia Church, Corporate Affairs Manager – The Warehouse
Debbie is also renowned for putting together unforgettable concerts that feature NZ’s most loved female singer-songwriters.
Email to enquire about available line-ups.
A unique music-based team-building challenge whereby the participants write, sing and record a song – facilitated by Debbie Harwood.
40 people, a tranquil location, high expectations and no idea of what was about to come next.
That set the scene for one of the best inclusive team-building activities we’ve undertaken as a company. Musicmakers! Not just an off-the-shelf exercise, but something that we could work with Debbie on to tailor an event that met our objectives without detracting from the uniqueness and effectiveness in bringing people together and providing personal challenge and learning opportunity. The Musicmakers concept is a great leveller and unlike most team activities doesn’t disadvantage anyone, even if they can’t sing.
Debbie is a fantastic person to work with, bringing an insight into the NZ music industry that has something to prickle and tickle everyone, this in addition to the creation and production of a great company song.
The feedback from staff was excellent and this activity raised the bar yet again of the standard of our company days.
– Mike Youmans, Operations Manager – NOKIA