“Never Say Never”
“A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)”
Debora Kay Iyall ( born 29 April 1954), best known simply by her 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.
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. (The Occupation lasted nineteen months.) She had hoped to connect with the Native American activist community there, but felt “out of place”.
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.
Solo albums and art career
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. Ink Clan was once housed in the South of Market Cultural Center in San Francisco. 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.