Donna De Lory
Donna De Lory is a singer, songwriter, producer and musician whose voice and music transcends time and genre. Fans will
be familiar with Donna from her years of touring with Madonna, but her music has its own compelling vision. Inspired by
Indian devotional music and dance beats from around the globe as well as western pop, Donna’s songs blend diverse styles
for a sound that’s as natural as it is unique. Sky Is Open, her latest album is remarkable for a sound that’s expansive and
intimate, deeply layered and subtle, immediate and ageless. Donna’s clear pure vocals possess an emotive power that can be
enchanting and ardent, elegant and earthy; a voice rich with emotional nuance and understated soul, a sound that goes
straight to your heart.
It took Donna almost two years to complete Sky Is Open and her care and attention to craft is evident in every note. “I had a
sound in my head that I wanted to get out. As an independent artist with a limited budget and a child to raise it was
challenging, but I worked at night, in my home studio, whenever I could.” With the aid of co-producer Mac Quayle (Annie
Lennox, Toni Braxton, New Order) and long time collaborator Cameron Stone, Donna fashioned an extensive palette of
warm acoustics, inviting electronic textures and her own exceptional vocals. “They’re all love songs, even those that sound
spiritual,” she explains. Donna completed Sky Is Open with the help of many friends and collaborators, including cellist
Cameron Stone, Krishna Das, who lends his distinctive vocals to the title track, songwriting ace Eric Bazilian, producer
Anthony Resta (Collective Soul, Duran Duran) and the members of her band: Cameron Stone on cello, Mark Gorman on
bass, and Dave Allen on drums and percussion.
On Sky Is Open rhythms and melodies from around the globe ebb and flow creating a transcendent pulse. “Fade In Time”
opens with a sample of Swami Satchidananda intoning the “Gayatri Mantra,” the holiest prayer of the Hindu cannon.
Donna’s whispered vocal slowly builds to a cry of pleading passion, complimented by a classic, almost liturgical synthesizer
line, soaring electric guitars and Anthony Resta’s dramatic percussion. Subtle, percolating Indian percussion and a sensuous,
hypnotic bass line introduce “Glow.” Cameron’s luxurious cello and Donna’s Sanskrit chanting give the song a bright, airy
Donna is at her most emotional on “One Day,” a song of hurt and healing that’s dark and light, spooky and spiritual.
Cameron’s cello, Paul Bryan’s swooping bass, the soaring guitar of Jerry Leonard (David Bowie) and Donna’s impassioned
vocals lend the song a warm, wide-open vibe. The title song, “Sky Is Open” unfolds slowly. Subtle keyboard textures and a
percussion track that blends Western and Eastern rhythms give the song a meditative feel. Marty Allen’s sitar, the measured
chanting of Krishna Das and the way Donna’s subtle, smoky vocals float effortlessly through the the mix add to the music’s
soulful energetic feel. Joseph Arthur’s “In The Sun,” the album’s one cover, was originally a dark rock tune. Donna and
Cameron slow it down, adding a countermelody on cello that gives the lyric a devotional quality. The album’s themes of
infinite love, devotion and redemption give the album a spiritual essence, fulfilling Donna’s stated goal of making music
with a positive message.
Donna was raised in a musical home in Calabasas, CA. Her grandfather played cello and upright bass for the Warner
Brothers Studio Orchestra, her mother was a singer and dancer and her father, Al De Lory, was a musician who played
keyboards with Phil Spector’s Wrecking Crew. He contributed keyboards to the Beach Boys landmark Pet Sounds album
and produced Glen Campbell’s classic hits of the 60s and 70s. Donna began performing at a young age making her
professional debut at age eight singing a Recipe dog food commercial. By junior high she had already contributed her voice
to projects by Kim Carnes, Barry Manilow and Santana, the Rocky II soundtrack as well as warbling the theme song for
Disneyland's “It's A Small World” ride.
When she was sixteen, Donna’s mother died and she moved to Nashville, where her father found a home on Music Row. “I
hung out on Music Row singing demos and made friends with a lot of songwriters,” Donna recalls. “I worked in a
vegetarian restaurant, became vegetarian, the first step on the path toward the life I’m living now. Being around songwriters
and seeing the attention they paid to their craft inspired me. I decided I wanted to be an artist and a songwriter. I picked up
a guitar and realized I had a talent for it.”
After graduating from High School, Donna went back to LA to study dancing, singing and acting. A demo tape of her
singing Madonna’s “Open Your Heart” reached Pat Leonard, Madonna’s producer, and she became an integral part of his
productions for artists like Ray Parker, Jr. and Carly Simon. Leonard helped her land a gig as one of Madonna’s singing/
dancing stage companions. Donna became an integral part of Madonna’s performing troupe. She’s worked with Madonna
on six international tours including the Who’s That Girl, Blonde Ambition and Drowned World Tours. Donna also had a
part in the infamous documentary Truth or Dare.
In 1993 Donna released her self-titled debut on MCA. Most of the songs on the album were self-penned; critics praised the
sincerity of her vocals and the record’s winning blend of up-tempo dance tunes and heartfelt ballads. She had a #1 single in
Japan with “Praying For Love” and a top 10 dance hit in the U.S. with “Just a Dream.” Touring to support her CD
introduced Donna to a whole world of music she’d never heard before: “I went to Brazil, Israel, Turkey and many other
countries and was influenced by the music I heard. Those rhythms and melodies opened my ears and my heart and I
discovered a whole new way of expressing myself musically.”
As Donna grew musically, she looked for ways to make her music deeper, richer, more resonant and ultimately, more
spiritual. When she met cellist Cameron Stone she began to hone a new sound that combined her pop experience and
emerging interest in world music with his classical training. They called their unique musical hybrid, and the album, Bliss.
Released on her own label and recorded in a studio Donna and Cameron built with their own hands - was an instant success,
praised for Donna’s fervent vocals and the depth and complexity of the arrangements. She supported the album by touring
the usual mainstream clubs like House Of Blues, but the strong spiritual vibe of Bliss made the album a favorite at healing
centers and yoga studios and led to performances in churches and other spiritual places. “When you play in a space like
that, people are so into the music,” Donna says. “They want to be taken away; they’re closing their eyes, letting go and
really listening.” Others were listening as well. Superstar club DJ/producer Junior Vasquez remixed “On & On” and it hit the
Top 20 on Billboard's Club Dance chart. Music from the album continues to be widely licensed for film and TV including
the daytime drama Passions and the Lifetime Network series Beyond Chance.
Sky Is Open blends the material sentiments of Bliss with the spiritual sensitivity of Lover and The Beloved to deliver songs
that are both secular and devotional, a winning blend of international beats and a pop sensibility.
“I’m further along on my path, so that devotional, self realized aspect is there in the music,” Donna says. In concert, Donna
delivers a seamless blend of mantra and English devotional songs accompanied by her own harmonium and piano along
and musical collaborator Cameron Stone on cello. “Playing music is my bliss,” Donna says. “I realize that being able to do
this is a gift. If I can inspire people to better appreciate the people they love or get in touch with their own bliss, then I’ve
done what I’m here to do.”