By  on August 12, 2005

Deborah Lippmann, Lippmann Collection and 'Nightingale' CD
She has her own nail care line, a group of Nordstrom-based manicure bars and half of Hollywood's elite on speed dial, but manicurist Deborah Lippmann's first love is far from the nail bar.

Lippmann, an accomplished jazz singer who has sung professionally since the age of 17, actually began doing nails as a sideline shortly after obtaining a bachelor's degree in music. "I was getting a manicure for my college graduation ceremony," she says, "and all of a sudden, it hit me: I was planning to move to New York to pursue the singing, and needed a way to support myself. I mentioned it to my manicurist, and she said, 'You can do this anywhere, and you won't be on your feet waitressing, the way everyone else will be.'" Although that didn't make breaking the news to her mom any easier: "When I told her I was going to beauty school, she literally said, 'Over my dead body!'"

Lippmann quickly built up an impressive roster of clients, and sang at New York clubs, fashion-industry parties and New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns games on the side. Clients such as Martha Stewart, who hired her to sing at parties and produce the music for one of her first TV specials, and Donald Trump, who hired her to sing at wedding number two, helped her keep her hand in music. Doing a CD was always a hip-pocket dream, an "I'll-do-it-sometime" project. In the meantime, she launched Lippmann Collection in 1999, and slaked her love for music by dubbing nearly all of her nail colors with song-title names such as Lady Is a Tramp and Summer Wind.

But despite encouragement from her family and friends, Lippmann demurred on the CD project until one famous client reminded her of something that everyone else had been trying to tell her for years.

On a magazine shoot, Renée Zellweger, with whom Lippmann created one of her best-selling nail shades, Just Walk Away Renée, were talking about what a success Lippmann's nail products had become. "And then Renée looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Isn't it amazing how far out of our way we will go not to do what we're meant to be doing?' I was finally ready to hear that, and it made me ready to finally do the CD."

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