“I love jazz, but I’m a rocker at heart,” says the young Canadian guitarist. “Suites” her first solo record, is a combination of both worlds. The songs have a jazz sensibility with a rock n’ roll edge. My roots are in Electric Blues and you can definitely hear that influence on the record as well.”
Donna started playing guitar as a teenager borrowing and strumming on her brother’s acoustic guitar. After hearing Jimi Hendrix, she quickly decided she MUST have an electric guitar and her dad made a deal that once she had mastered a complete song on acoustic, he would get her that coveted electric guitar! She did, he did and she has never looked back!
After a couple of years of woodshedding, learning the riffs of her guitar heros, Donna , at 17 was selected as a semi-finalist in the North American Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Competition. Donna performed the blues classic “Red House” to a capacity crowd that included Al Hendrix (Jimi’s father) at a rock bar in Cleveland, Ohio, this was her first public performance.
The next phase was dedicating herself to learning theory and music history, studying Jazz at McGill University in Montreal after which she moved to Toronto and quickly immersed herself in the music scene as a session musician and live performer. In the ensuing years, she has worked with a diverse roster of talented Canadian acts, including Juno award-winning artists Amanda Marshall, Kardinal Offishall, Divine Brown, Haydain Neal and Kellylee Evans. Donna has toured globally with performances in Singapore, Australia, the UK, and throughout Europe, Canada and the United States. She was a part of Ruf Records’ Blues Caravan Tour in 2010 joining Coco Montoya, Shakura S’Aida and Meena. She continues to perform regularly with Shakura S’Aida (2011 Maple Blues Vocalist of the Year), soul-rock songstress Saidah Baba Talibah (described as Living Color meets Erykah Badu), and Hill & The Sky Heros (an alien surf rock group). This year, Donna is once again the guitarist and musical director of the annual Women’s Blues Revue at Massey Hall, a role she has held since 2010.
Currently as well, she is the leader of her own group, The Electic Band a band that lives and breathes the spirit of the experimental jam band, akin to the trance style of current artists like Otis Taylor. Donna describes the bands approach: “creating music in the moment, reacting to each other on stage, exploring musical themes for extended lengths of time, and utilizing effects pedals to broaden the tonal pallet of the music. The creative intention is to be free and continuously challenge each other on stage. Hopefully in doing so, we can create an experience for listeners and take the audience on a musically engaging journey.”
So Loudguitars is pleased to present our interview with Donna who graciously took time away from Women’s Blues Review rehearsals to sit down with us…..Enjoy!