Published on August 16, 2012 by Amy
Debora Kay Iyall (Cowlitz pronunciation: [ˈʌɪalwahawa]; born 29 April 1954), professional name “Debora Iyall”, a Cowlitz Native American, is an artist and was lead singer for the new wave band Romeo Void. Debora got her surname from her family adopting their ancestor Iyallwahawa’s “first” name written at the time as Ayiel.
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She was born in 1954 in Soap Lake, Washington, but grew up in Fresno, California. While attending the San Francisco Art Institute, she joined Frank Zincavage and Peter Woods to create Romeo Void in 1979. Inspired by Joy Division, 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.
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. 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.