Debbie Gitlin was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She began classical viola at the Cleveland Institute of Music when she was 8, and later attended Interlochen Arts Academy and studied with Lucien Joel of the Cleveland Orchestra. In 1980 she heard a recording of Tommy Jarrell playing "Cluck Old Hen" and immediately began attending fiddlers' conventions and visiting fiddlers across the United States. Gitlin has won more than 60 contest prizes at fiddlers' conventions throughout the country. She lives in Walkertown and teaches classical viola, violin, and fiddle at Jackson Music Studios in Winston-Salem.
Debbie played with the Messengers ocassionally for two years and I helped her get a teaching position at Duncan Music with Mike Jarrett. Debbie is a great fiddler and very knowledgeable about fiddlers and styles. She's a great hoedown fiddler and has won numerous competitions. Debbie played on our Bluegrass Boogie CD and Maple Leaf Rage is an interesting arrangement. Her version of Jerusalem Ridge is outstanding as well.