"A Diamond Among Coal"
No Depression Magazine USA
Hi, I'm Donna. Songwriter, singer, musician involved in the New Zealand acoustic music scene for more than three decades. In that time I've had some amazing experiences and met some incredibly gifted artists, among them many of my personal songwriting heroes. I've had a few nods from the local music industry along the way too, winning three Tui awards for songwriting and recording.
I'm often asked what motivates me to keep writing, recording and performing. I'm not tied to trophies or accolades but to loyal supporters who show up at gigs and to the seeds of creativity that still wake me in the early hours. My writing has been inspired by artists like Iris Dement, Roseanne Cash, Lucinda Williams, Russell Smith, Guy Clark and John Prine and by the newer generation of artists like Jason Isbell, Shovels & Rope, Molly Tuttle and Brandi Carlile. But the most powerful musical influence on me growing up was my mother, who snatched any spare moment she had as a mother of four, picking out tunes by the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. At times those influences filter through my writing and performance too.
In my twenties, I was living in a dangerous, toxic marriage. It took years to develop the courage to walk away from that but when I did, I wrote a song about leaving. The song, Destination Life, was recorded by American Bluegrass artist Rhonda Vincent and became the title track of her 2010 Grammy nominated album.
Film footage of a tour I did across the American Southwest in 2013 became the backdrop of an award winning feature length documentary by Kiwi film maker Bill Morris. I was joined on that tour by fellow musicians John Egenes
(tour manager/guitar), John Dodd (bass) and Jane Clark (fiddle). The film premiered at the New Zealand Docedge Film Festival 2016. The film opened the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival, Canada 2017 where I was invited to open the festival. The film featured at the South Texas International Film Festival 2018. Down In Eden Magazine called the film "a compelling and important social documentary". Read the full article here.