Debra Jo Driskell Lynn was born in Independence, Missouri in 1963 to Joseph and Barbara Driskell. Debra’s mother guided her piano study from the age of 5. Her brother Gary (1957-2008), a church musician and a two-time Dove Award-winning composer, started teaching Debra to take musical dictation from recordings when she was 10. This sparked her interest in creating arrangements of existing songs. She graduated from Truman High School in 1981, where she was very active in music. Her high school choir director, Phil Dunham programmed many of her choral arrangements and encouraged Debra to try composing original works. In college, she jumped into the study of composition and has been exploring that outlet ever since.
Debra holds a Doctor of Arts in Music degree from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana with emphases in choral conducting and voice performance. Prior degrees from Truman State University and William Jewell College include emphases in choral conducting, voice performance, and music education. Debra studied composition for two years with Warren Gooch at Truman State University. She studied conducting under the tutelage of maestros Paul Vermel, Douglas Amman, Fred Stoltzfus, R. Paul Crabb, and Arnold Epley. Debra studied voice with Mary Hagopian, Nicholas DiVirgilio, R. Paul Crabb, Arnold Epley, Dean Wilder, and Millicent Daugherty. Debra’s special research interests include Colonial American Music, Film Music, and composers Charles Ives and Benjamin Britten.
Debra is now in her 19th year at Manchester University where she serves as Director of Choral Organizations and Vocal Studies. She teaches applied voice, conducting, vocal pedagogy, opera workshop, music for stage & film, and history of the Requiem Mass. Choral ensembles under her direction include A Cappella Choir, Chamber Singers, Cantabile, and Manchester Symphony Chorus. Her ensembles have performed at various locations throughout the U.S. including Carnegie Hall in New York, Sacred Heart Basilica at Notre Dame University, and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Her A Cappella Choir has traveled to Italy, Austria, and London. Whether domestic or international, her tours carry a theme of world peace.
As a composer, Debra writes both instrumental and vocal music, and has received several commissions including Lily and Plowshares Foundation requests. She serves as guest conductor and clinician for various composer forums, choral festivals, and voice and conducting master classes throughout the midwest. Debra is married to cellist & tubaist, Robert Lynn. They have four daughters, Bethany, Abby, and twins: Emily and Eryn. Debra and Robert reside in North Manchester with four cats: Spartacus, Ella, Enheduanna (Heddy), and Hildegarde (Hildy), and varying combinations of their offspring, depending on the time of year.