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About Debra Byrd, the Vocal Coach From The Voice Honored During the Battles

Ms. Byrd passed away recently.

By Elizabeth Logan

Debra Byrd, a longtime vocal coach with a roster of A-list clients — who worked on The Voice  and American Idol as a vocal coach, too — passed away on March 5, 2024, as reported by Deadline. The first Battles episode of The Voice Season 25 was dedicated to her in recognition of her work with the show.

About Debra Byrd, the late vocal coach for The Voice and acclaimed singer-actress 

How to Watch

Watch the Season 26 premiere of The Voice on Monday, September 23 at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock. 

Many of the singers Byrd worked with over the years expressed their sympathy online following the news of her death. "This is one of the saddest days of my life. I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that Debra is no longer with me. She was one of the most wonderful friends I’ve ever had. I will miss you forever, my love," Barry Manilow wrote on X.

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Jennifer Hudson, who was a Coach on The Voice for Seasons 13 and 15, shared clips from one of their sessions together on X and wrote, "Heartbroken over the passing of Debra Byrd, the vocal coach on American Idol. She encouraged and supported us from the very beginning ! I am so grateful for everything she taught us. She will be dearly missed, but her legacy lives on through the music of countless artists she influenced during her lifetime. Rest in peace, Debra."

Debra Byrd on the "American Idol" Finalist Party red carpet on March 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

“I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that no one was a better mentor, coach, teacher, or champion to us Idol contestants than Byrd was,” Clay Aiken said, via Deadline. “No one spent more time with us. I’ll never forget her drilling into us how we needed to look right into the camera and connect with the audience at home. She was a light in so many lives. I am so lucky that I got to call her a friend.”

Per Deadline, Byrd's other clients over the years have included Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, and Bob Dylan.

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In addition to being a vocal coach, Byrd was a celebrated singer with a vibrant career. She most notably performed with Manilow in the backup group on his tour known as Lady Flash. Lady Flash had a hit song of their own released in 1976 titled "Street Singin'," arranged and penned by Manilow himself. Byrd also had some impressive acting credits, including the national touring company of Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk, where she played Da Singer — in addition to roles in Haarlem Nocturne, Barry Manilow on Broadway, and The Human Comedy. She will be missed.