Debbie has been playing and singing the old mountain tunes since she was a child. She bought her first dulcimer from Wally Pergram (Germantown, OH) in about 1974. In 1978 she met Ed Simpkins at a local jam session. They formed the Old Time Music Group and over a span of 30 years performed extensively throughout the Ohio-Indiana-Kentucky-Michigan and Tennessee regions.
In 1979 Ed and Debbie started the Old Time Music Festival at Caesars Creek Pioneer Village and managed it through 1983. The group entertained at state, county and theme fairs, regional festivals, private parties, annual meetings and reunions. They have been on the staffs of music workshops and performances for the states of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky.
The group was a regular at the Tennessee Fall Homecoming at Norris, TN. They performed at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville for the Traditional Music Awards (1995). They also appeared on Midwest Country Theatre in Sandstone, MN (2006), and on the Cumberland Highlanders Show; both aired on RFD-TV.
The Old Time Music Group made a total of six recordings. Sadly, Ed Simpkins passed away in 2009. But their music lives on in the hearts of everyone who loved their performance style and the old songs they shared. Old-time music has been a part of Debbie’s life as long as she can remember. As a child, she learned many old songs and folk music from her dad, Andy Kopp, and learned to play them by ear on an old pump organ. Her 5th grade teacher and his wife, Milt and Bonnie Beasley, were also a major influence in inspiring her interest in Appalachian melodies. Thus, Debbie’s life-long passion has been preserving the musical heritage of the Appalachian Mountains. Debbie learned the style she plays from native Kentuckian Wally Pergram, and Ed Simpkins. Together, they imparted much love and knowledge to her of the instruments and music.
Debbie endeavors to pass on the help she received from Wally and Ed to others. In the spirit of tradition and love of the old ways, Debbie continues with her interests in old-time and mountain music. Currently, she co-leads the Germantown Dulcimer Society, a group she helped form. She plays autoharp and dulcimer at community organizations, local jams, open mics, churches and festivals.