The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


July 29, 2011

Library will become Jazz club

'Soulful swinging songstress' in concert Aug. 26

TARBORO — Debra "Coco" Rouzier is coming back to Tarboro next month and will perform at Edgecombe County Memorial Library in a fund-raising event for the Friends of the Library.

The concert will be 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26 in the library, which will transformed into a jazz club. There will be a wine and cheese reception beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets, $10 for singles and $15 for couples, and go on sale next week at the library at 909 Main St. There will be a limited number of tickets.

How Rouzier found Tarboro is a chapter in a love story that began 37 years ago.

She is Debra, 45, who is known professionally as "Coco" for her "sexy, smooth and sweet" jazz vocals.

He is William Johnson, who everybody knows as "Bo," semi-famous Tarboro High School football star in 1980-84.

They fell in love when Debra was 8 years old, visiting her grandmother Amanda Ward and grandfather George E. Worsley in Tarboro during the summer and attending second grade at Stocks Elementary School.

They each took different paths. Johnson went on to Elizabeth City State University to run the football for the Vikings. He got married and has a 15-year-old son, Damian, who plays football on the THS junior varsity.

His marriage ended. He’s now a barber at Bridgers Barber Shop in Princeville.

Debra went on stage in New York and eventually around the world.

She grew trying to emulate her mother, Bessie Worsley, dancing and singing.

"She loved to  dance and sing, and so did I," said Rouzier.

She picked up experiencxe as a child in musical theater.

She was Miss Woodson Senior High in 1984 in Washington, D.C., and won an amateur talent competition at Howard University that led to performing at the Apollo Theater in New York.

On her own, she moved to New York and began singing in the Jerry Kravat NY Orchestra for New York's high society.

Soon she was making trips  to Europe and singing in Norway and Paris, France.

She was the "The Soulful Swinging Songstress" in the United States, a "Jazz Diva" in France, a "Soul Shaker" in Norway and "The Jewel" in Shanghai, China.

"It's been an adventure," she said. "I love jazz."

Three years ago, after Debra had settled in Washington, D.C., Bo found her, not aware of her singing career. Now they are engaged.

"He keeps me grounded," she said. "I don't have to put on airs."

Rouzier has a fondness for the library.

"(Local History Librarian) Pam (Edmondson) helped me when I was trying to look up information about my family," she said. "I appreciate that."

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