Deborah Simmons


A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Deborah has spent the last 20 plus years in the New England area. She received a bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem State University (Winston-Salem, North Carolina); a master’s of arts, masters of education and a doctorate of education respectively in the areas of music therapy, guitar instruction and adult leaning from Teachers College Columbia University (New York, New York.)

She currently serves as Professor of Music and Program Coordinator of the Music Studies Degree Program at Manchester Community College. In November 2016, under her leadership the music degree program became national accredited as recognized by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). National accreditation ensures articulation with area NASM accredited music programs. Currently MCC is the only two-year music degree in the State of Connecticut and one of three accredited music schools in the New England region.

Professional Music Performance:
United Methodist Church of Newington, CT- Choir Director/Keyboardist
St. Monica’s Episcopal Church, Hartford, CT-Gospel Choir Director/ Arranger and Keyboardist
Out the Boxx -classic Rhythm and Blues band -keyboardist
Divine- rock/pop ensemble- keyboardist
Sister Funk- Female original/cover band-substitute bass guitarist
•July 2004 – Music Festival – Ottawa, Canada

From1996 to 2003 Deborah was a member of the woman’s contemporary music group “Swivel Hips.” A fusion of funk, jazz, Latin, R&B, pop and rock, the group performed throughout the greater New England area. Noted performances included:
•June 2001 – Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Farmington, CT that was broadcasted on National Public Radio (NPR).
•October 2001 – Mystic CT Poetry Festival
•July 2000 – Millennium March on Washington, Washington, D.C.
•July 2001 – Opened for the Neville Brothers

Despite her hectic schedule as an educator and performing artist, she regards expression through the visual arts as a necessity. She maintains a serious involvement in the visual arts. Her quilts deviate from the traditional patterns to explore images representing cultural themes and societal issues. Her recent work extends beyond textiles to include 2-D multimedia works and boat building.

•A River Runs, Mixed Media, Green Street Teaching and Learning Center of Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT., April 28-June 1, 2016.
•Manchester Community College Galleria, Manchester CT, October, 2004, acrylic, canvas, Bristol board, MCP composite board
Tisane’s Tea and Drink Bar, Hartford, CT, September & October, 2004, acrylic, canvas and Bristol board
•Hartford Hospital Cafeteria, Hartford, CT, March 2004, acrylic and Bristol board.
•Manchester Community College Woman’s Center, Manchester CT, 1996, fabric art
•University of Connecticut, West Hartford, CT, February 1994, fabric art

•Mystic Seaport’s Staff/Volunteer Art Show, Maritime Gallery, March 2017
•Water, Water Everywhere; Paean to a Vanishing Resource, Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art, University of Connecticut, Avery Point, Groton, CT, September 11, 2015 -October 24, 2015.
• Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter Festival, 2015, acrylic on birch board, exhibition of small craft dinghy “River Run”, Harbor Park, Middletown, CT, May 9, 2015
•Institute for Community Research, Hartford, CT, 2004, acrylic and MCP composite board
•John Slade Eli House, New Haven CT., 2004, acrylic on bristle board
•Urban Artist Initiative Program, 2002-2003, Bradley Airport, acrylic and pen
•Manchester Community College, 2000, fabric art, Opening of the Learning Resource Center
•Manchester Community College, 1999, acrylic and wood, Urban Artist Initiative Program
•Legislative Office Building, Hartford, CT, concourse, 1997, fabric art
•Institute for Community Research, ICCD Program, Hartford, CT, 1997, ceramics, ICCD Bi-Annual Conference
•Craftery Gallery, Hartford, January 1993, fabric art
•University of Connecticut, West Hartford, CT, fall, 1993, fabric art, ICCD Program

Extended Projects
•Exhibited wooden boat, Mende Liberte, 2017 Wooden Boat Show, Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT
• Construction of a 20-foot Tollman Skiff (wooden power boat with cabin) Mende Liberte, February 2015 to present.
• Construction of a 12- foot sail/row/motor wooden boat as part of an art exhibition she has been invited to participate in January 2015. The boat incorporates images based upon the nautical map of the Connecticut River.
•The sailboat was exhibited June26-28, 2015 at the 24 Annual Wooden Boat Show at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT. She received two awards, 1st Place for small craft dinghy and the Judges Choice Award.
• Creating the text and illustrations for a children’s book targeting African American children with type 2 Diabetes
• Wrote and illustrated a children’s book entitled “Little Deboo and her Big Sister Rose.” Summer, 2005.
• Wrote and illustrated a children’s book entitled “Little Deboo and Her Big Sister Rose: Learning About Diabetes” Fall, 2009.

•February 2017, MCC Employee Leadership Award
•June 2015 Concours d’ Elegance, 1st Place Judges Choice and 1st Place Small Craft Dinghy, River Run, Wooden Boat Show, Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT
•April 2014, The Dr. Jonathan B. Daube Award for Inclusion and Accessibility
•February, 2014, Deborah received the MCC Employee Leadership in honor of Mary Bethune-Cookman, educator and civil rights leader.
• June 7, 2004 Deborah was inducted into the Manchester Arts Hall of Fame.

Featured Articles
December 2016-March 2017, WoodenBoat’s 2017 Small Boats, Reader Built Boats, Mende Liberte.
August 2016, “It’s not about the boats.” By Nim Marsh, Editor, Points East Magazine
February 2016, Journal Inquirer