Singer/Songwriter, Deborah Avans Peek was born in Chicago, Illinois. She was adopted at the age of two, by a couple who could not have children of their own.
When she was four, the family moved to Alabama, where she was raised at Hytop on Skyline Mountain.
“I grew up in church,” she said. “My uncle was our preacher and another uncle was the song leader.”
By the age of 15, she was a member of a quartet.
“I loved to sing,” she said. “As soon as I got home from school, I would go to my room, shut the door and sing until bedtime. My favorite record album was by Donna Summer. I learned a lot of singing skills from her.”
She got married right out of high school and had three children. But the story was not the happy ending she had hoped for.
“I stayed depressed most of the time because I was in an abusive marriage,” she said. “We went to church faithfully, but not many people knew what I was going through because we were taught that ‘God won't put any more on you than you can stand.’”
No one seemed to understand what she was going through.
“After fourteen years, it became more abusive to the point of him loading a gun in front of my kids and telling me if I left he would kill me,” she said. “I had no other choice but to grab my kids and leave. So it soon ended in divorce.”
She was more determined than ever to make it in the music industry, and moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 2000 to pursue a career in country music. It was a far cry from Donna Summer, but Peek had the talent for the country music audience.
“I recorded a CD titled ‘Don't Come Cryin To Me,’ she said. “I went backstage at the Grand Ole Opry and I even sang at the Opry and at the Ryman Theatre.”
She began singing at other well-known places throughout Nashville, like the Bluebird Café.
“I did impersonations of Tammy Wynette and Faith Hill at the Stardust Theater in Nashville,” she said. “I went on the road with Porter Wagoner back when Gordon Mote played piano for him, and when the curtains would open up to start the show at the Opry, I would walk Gordon up to the piano.”
She joined a country music band and traveled all over Tennessee singing for about six years, but her roots in Christian music were evident.
“Everywhere I sang, people would come up to me and say, ‘you need to be singing gospel music,’” she said.
For Peek, that was not easy.
“Growing up,” she said, “I was in a religion that taught if you got divorced you were no longer accepted and God would not forgive you,” she said.
It caused a lot of inner turmoil for the small town girl with a gift for writing songs and singing from her heart.
In 2005, she had her fourth child, a son, Michael.
“My dad passed away in 2007,” she said, “and I moved back to Alabama to be with my mom and help her. I got back in church and found God's mercy, grace and forgiveness.
“I realized that God had never left me,” she said. “I was just believing what man's traditions had taught me and not what the Bible says.”
Things continued to get better.
“I recorded my first gospel CD titled, ‘Livin In The Rain,’ a cover song by Jeff and Sheri Easter, and I had a radio release from that album titled, ‘A Sacrifice of Love,’” she said. “I got married in 2011, to Chris Peek, and he adopted my son, Michael. Michael gave his life to the Lord in October 2015, and was baptized October 18, 2015. I praise God for that!”
Although she was happy, there were storms coming her way.
“For years,” she said, “I had suffered with neck and back pain and had wanted to have a breast reduction to see if it would help, but I knew I couldn’t afford it. I went to a doctor who said my insurance would pay for everything, so I had the surgery in 2014.”
The surgery went well, but as she was home healing, she got a call that shocked her.
“The doctor called me and told me the pathologist had found cancer in my right breast tissue,” she said. “I was in shock for a few minutes, and then I felt a calm come over me. I knew God had this and everything was going to be okay.
“The amazing thing is, the doctor told me that the pathologist told him he had checked the right side tissue and found nothing,” she said. “So he checked the left side and found nothing. Then the pathologist said ‘something told him to re-check the right side again.’ So he did, and found small pea-sized cancer cells.”
Three weeks after her reduction, she had to have a double mastectomy.
“The pathologist checked the tissue and found two more, two inch tumors of cancer,” she said. “The cancer had already spread to the lymph nodes. They removed four lymph nodes.
“If I hadn't went in for a reduction, if they hadn't checked a second time, if they hadn't caught it early; but God knew,” she said. “God has a plan.”
She underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy and 28 rounds of radiation.
“I lost all of my hair including my eyebrows and eyelashes,” she said. “I have had five surgeries in the last three years, including reconstruction. My scars have healed very well and you can't really even see them now. My doctor has given me a clean bill of health and I am cancer free!”
Peek spends a lot of time talking to God now, and is back on the road singing gospel music.
“He put an even stronger desire on my heart to minister to his people and the lost,” she said. “Once you have had cancer, you look at things from a different perspective. I told God if he would help me, I would be obedient. The devil tried to make me think I can't do this and I can't do that, and he tries to tell me I'm not good enough; he holds past mistakes over our heads to try to discourage us from doing God's work. Whenever Satan tries to discourage me, I just think about what God has done and how he has healed and protected me, and I am determined that I am going to be obedient and do the work that He has called me to do.
“God will never leave you,” she said. “Even when you think He's so far away, He's not, and He will always rescue you when He decides it's time. Going through divorce, abuse, abandonment, homelessness and brokenness in the past and then cancer, I know what it's like to struggle, but God is Good.”
If you would like to book Deborah Avans Peek for your event or church, call: 256-244-1550 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.