Published July 08, 2013
Debby Boone was just 21 years old when she rocketed to fame with the chart-topping single, ‘You Light Up My Life,’ which earned her a Grammy award for Best New Artist. The 56 year old daughter of Pat Boone has been happily married to Gabriel Ferrer -- son of Rosemary Clooney and cousin of George Clooney -- and is the mom of four children. She spoke to FOX411 about hanging with Sinatra, her famous father, and what George is really like.
FOX411: You’re working on a new album.
Debby Boone: It’s a swing album. Some people when they think of swing music they think Benny Goodman but this CD I’m doing is about Las Vegas in the early 60’s and that showroomy Rat Pack great time in Vegas. It’s not authentic big band but its great arrangements that evoke that feeling and time. I was there as a kid with my Dad.
FOX411: Did you meet Frank Sinatra?
Boone: Not so much when I was a kid, but I actually met Frank when I was starting to sing on my own and he really took me under his wing and I opened up for him. I stayed at his Palm Springs estate.
FOX411: Was he charming Frank or grumpy Frank?
Boone: It was the 70’s. He was never grumpy with me. He was always absolutely charming. Getting to stay on the property and getting a touch of the type of life he lived… All the guesthouses were named after his albums. They had little notebooks and match pads engraved with our names on them. We could either order room service to our private guest house or we could eat in a common room with everyone. He treated us all like royalty.
FOX411: So you never saw grumpy Frank.
Boone: I never did. I certainly heard plenty of stories, horrible stories, but I never saw that up close and personal. I worked with an arranger/conductor, Don Costa, who worked with Frank quite a bit. He told us countless stories which are really fun to hear if you’re not on the firing line (laughs).
FOX411: Your Dad was criticized for covering black musician’s songs.
Boone: For the people that misunderstand that, he was actually helpful in opening the door because that music, for unfortunate reasons, was not mainstream, and it never was going to be mainstream unless a white performer performed that music and introduced a whole new audience to it, and that kind of paved the way for the artists that originated that music to be able to get airplay and play different venues. Some people regarded it as my Dad was stealing something, but it was never that way. Many times my Dad was an advocate and took a hard line stand against any kind of racism or prejudice.
FOX411: Ever get sick of singing ‘You Light Up My Life?’
Boone: There were times, certainly in the first couple of years where it seemed like I was singing it several times a day, nobody wanted anything else, and that was a little frustrating. But now because it is the song that connected me to so many people I just feel incredibly grateful and very happy to do it.
FOX411: You have four kids. How did you balance it all?
Boone: There were times when it seemed that I was dropping all the balls at once. But we had to make careful choices and prioritize, and I think a lot of times these choices were not great career choices, but I never look back with any regret because I have four fabulous adult kids who are well adjusted, creative, wonderful kids who had both their parents when they needed them. Whenever I had to turn down a great job it was worth it, but sometimes it felt like I wasn’t doing either well. It was always in my heart to put them first.
FOX411: Your husband is George Clooney's cousin.
Boone: We’re very, very careful because whenever anyone reaches that kind of pinnacle everybody’s after them for something, so that’s the last thing we ever want George to feel, that we’re in line looking for something from him. I adore George, what you see is what you get. He always will be the most charming guy. The truth is we almost never see him because he’s so incredibly busy.