Debra Dene Barnes is not only a Miss America Sister, having won the crown in 1968, but she is an accomplished pianist with many years of training. She also has thirty-five years of piano teaching experience, and her students have ranged in age from five to eighty-seven years.
Debbie used her scholarship money that she received from the local, state, and national pageants to finish her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Piano Performance from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas.
As a former pageant winner, she has performed in forty-one states and three foreign countries. She has also appeared on network television (Kraft Music Hall and the 700 Club to name just two), numerous cable stations, and still maintains an active performance schedule. Debbie has also been a judge for the pageant, and she along with forty-seven of her Miss America Sisters returned for the ninetieth celebration of the pageant in 2011.
Currently, Debra is Assistant Professor of Music and Chair of Piano Studies at Missouri Southern State in Joplin, Missouri. She is also a highly regarded motivational speaker, traveling extensively to address youth and women’s church groups about her faith journey.
In January 2007, Debbie won the Concerto competition at Pittsburg State, and she was the soloist at the Southeast Kansas Symphony during the April 2008 concert. From 2007 to 2013 she has given yearly piano recitals at Missouri Southern.
Debbie and her husband Bill Snodgrass have two daughters and five grandchildren. They live in Carthage, Missouri, where she is the music director at Faith Life Worship Center. Debbie’s faith is extremely important to her, which shows with her volunteer efforts with domestic violence victims in Jasper County. As she says, “my year as a Miss America was a most memorable experience, but the most exciting and thrilling part of my life is being a witness for Jesus Christ.”
She will be seen on October 3, 2015 at 7:20PM at the Sandusky State Theatre as she and eight other Miss A. Sisters perform in Celebrate America. Join them and help out the charities like Michael’s House for physically and sexually abused children.
Tickets for the event can be purchased online as well as by calling the theater (see previous posts for more information), and donations are gladly accepted through Celebrate America Productions (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization or through GoFundMe.org (again, see previous posts for address).