Debora Iyall

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Debora Iyall
Born (1954-04-29) April 29, 1954 (age 65)
Soap Lake, Washington
OriginCowlitz Native American
GenresPunk rock, new wave, post-punk
Occupation(s)Singer, artist and art instructor
Years active1979–present
Associated actsRomeo Void

Debora Kay Iyall (Cowlitz pronunciation: [ˈʌɪalwahawa];[citation needed] born 29 April 1954), best known simply by her professional name Debora Iyall /ˈ.ɑːl/, a Cowlitz Native American, is an artist and was lead singer for the new wave band Romeo Void.[1] Debora got her surname from her family adopting their ancestor Iyallwahawa's "first" name written at the time as Ayiel.[2]

Early life[edit]

She was born in 1954 in Soap Lake, Washington, but grew up in Fresno, California. In 1969, at age fourteen, Iyall joined the Occupation of Alcatraz and stayed for six days. She had hoped to connect with the Native American activist community there, but felt "out of place".[3]

Romeo Void[edit]

While attending the San Francisco Art Institute, she joined Frank Zincavage and Peter Woods to create Romeo Void in 1979.[4] Inspired by Joy Division[citation needed], the band was remarkable for their modernization of the punk sound, and for Iyall's forceful, half-spoken delivery. They reached hit status on college radio stations with the suggestive and multi-leveled song "Never Say Never" in 1982. Their song "A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)" landed them in the top 40 of Billboard's Hot 100 chart, and an appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand in 1984.

Solo albums and art career[edit]

Romeo Void parted ways in 1985, and the following year Iyall released her debut solo album Strange Language on Columbia Records. After a lukewarm reception of the album, Iyall returned to her first love, as an artist and art instructor. Throughout the 1990s she taught art at the 29 Palms Cultural Center and for the Arts Council For San Bernardino. She also led hikes and made presentations for the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum as a paid docent, and in 1995 she started Ink Clan, a print shop dedicated to teaching screen printing and other arts to young Native artists.[5] Ink Clan was once housed in the South of Market Cultural Center in San Francisco.[6] She presently resides in Sacramento, California, with her husband, audio engineer and instructor Patrick Haight.

Since late 2009, Iyall has been performing new material written with Peter Dunne at a variety of local venues in Northern California. In 2010 Iyall's second solo album, Stay Strong was released, and in January 2012, an EP, Singing Until Sunrise was released.


  1. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Biography: Romeo Void". AMG. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  2. ^ Lanham, Tom (10 June 2011). "Debora Iyall from Romeo Void is back with 'Stay Strong'". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  3. ^ Fuller, editors Diana Burgess; Munk, Daniela Salvioni ; poetry editor Gail Tsukiyama ; editorial assistant Deborah (2002). Art, women, California : 1950-2000 : parallels and intersections. Berkeley [u.a.]: Univ. of California Press. p. 198. ISBN 9780520230668.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Debora Iyall interview
  5. ^ poet, j.; Sullivan, James (4 April 1999). "BGP Battling Photographer". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  6. ^ al.], Community History Project, Intertribal Friendship House, Oakland, California ; ed. committee Susan Lobo, coordinating ed. ... [et (2002). Urban voices : the Bay Area American Indian community. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press. p. 92. ISBN 9780816513161.

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