The electrifying soulful presence that is Donn T comes from such a rich lineage of musical heritage that makes itself very obvious when listening to her music. Musical ability like hers can’t be taught, brought or sold, it can only come from within fresh with it’s raw hypnotic nature that captures the listeners. The singer, songwriter, producer, musician, label owner and Philadelphia Native has just released her much anticipated album, Flight Of The Donn T, which comes along with a string up upcoming tour dates, festivals and appearances. Two songs from the project, “Waiting” and “Midnight” have appeared in recent films. “Waiting” appears in award winning director Ava Duvernay’s I Will Follow, while “Midnight” appeared in the Lifetime movie This Ring, which featured Jill Scott, Regina Hall and Eve.
Donn T is certainly in demand, but she was able to take time out of her busy schedule to sit down with Parlé Magazine to discuss the amazing year that she has been having thus far as well as her plans for the future.
Parlé Magazine: What initially attracted you to music?
Donn T: I was never pressured to pursue music, but when you grow up in a home where your parents are rehearsing 8 hours a day, from the time I would get up to when I would go to bed, I’d always hear music. My father Lee Andrews was the leader of the legendary doo-wop group Lee Andrews & The Hearts, my mother Jacqui was in the soul group, Congress Alley. I didn’t know other families weren’t like this until I got out there in the world and socialized with my peers. I had a lot of exposure to music from an early age so it was pretty much all I knew growing up, I knew my name and I knew music. It allowed me to pursue my creativity; I count it as a blessing. My parents were also very lyrical, I’d like to think what attracted me most to music besides growing up in a musical household was that I really liked the writing aspect of it because of what you can do with words. I wrote my first song at 9, it was something I always knew was available to me.
Parlé: If you had not gone into music, what other career path do you think you would have pursued?
Donn T: I would have gone into law or become an architect. I love structures and arts, I like the foundations of things and injecting beauty into the world.
Parlé: Is there a sense of sibling rivalry between Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson and yourself?
Donn T: There’s real respect between us. My grandfather Beachy Thompson was a member of the pioneering gospel group The Dixie Hummingbirds. When you come from generations of such talented musicians that have broken ground with their works, Ahmir and I have that recognition for each other. Although we may be in different lanes, we do wish the best for one another and we often work together whenever we get the chance to.
Parlé: Tell us about your album, Flight of The Donn T?
Donn T: The title of the album represents what’s been happening with me on the way to making this album. I took flight in every way imaginable. I created my own label D Tone Victorious back in 2014, which is under MRI/RED, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, I fell in love and got married, I became a mom to a wonderful little girl. I created this album to reflect the growing change in my life. I co-produced the album with my husband Jake Morelli, guitartist/producer best known for working with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Ne-Yo, The Roots, Roberta Flack and so many others.
Parlé: Are there any featured guests on the project?
Donn T: There are a lot of features, my brother appears on the album. Ray Angry, keyboardist/producer for Christina Aguilera, Mark Ronson and Mick Jagger. My husband and so many others who have helped me create such an amazing piece of work.
Parlé: Let’s talk about the 8th Annual Roots Picnic. I know you’re performing…
Donn T: It was founded by The Roots, it features a collection of artists, not just in Hip-Hop. The ticket price is pretty thick, but it’s a good show all around. Many people go to festivals only to see a particular artist or group but with this one, we encourage people to come early because there will be such a wide range of genres being presented that there’s a guarantee there’ll be something for everyone.
Parlé: What day do you perform?
Donn T: Saturday, May 3oth at 12:30p.m.
Parlé: I know you perform all the time, but what was it like to perform at the legendary Carnegie Hall?
Donn T: Back in March of this year I performed at Carnegie Hall for a Talking Heads tribute where I sang “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On).” It was an overwhelming experience, I got a standing ovation. I felt like I was very ready for this because I’ve been performing all my life and yet it was still such a humbling experience for me to be there.
Parlé: Are there upcoming projects for you in the works?
Donn T: On June 13th I will be in Los Angeles, CA for the Mixed Remixed Festival at the American Japanese National Museum (100 N Central Ave). I’ll be performing but I’ll also be on a panel. I’ll be speaking and representing my multi-cultural family and talking about various issues people may have raising biracial children and transracial adoption from all perspectives. I’ll be talking about my experience as an African-American woman raising an Italian-American daughter. We often hear of stories of Caucasian couples/women adopting/raising minority children so I thought I’d bring a different point of view to it. If anyone has seen the TLC channel show Say Yes To The Dress, then you were able to get a glimpse of my family.
Also, I have a writing project where I am a contributing writer to an anthology entitled Behind The Song but that’s not until 2016 so everything for that is still in the works. The idea behind the anthology is that each contributing writer would write about a song that impacted them the most and how it affected their lives. Everyone has that one song that no matter how many times they hear it, it holds a special meaning to them each time.
Parlé: How can the readers and fans reach you?
Donn T: My main website is www.donn-t.com, Twitter @Donn_T, Instagram @Dtonevic and on Facebook just look for the fan page Donn T. I post constantly so it’s always updated. You’ll also be able to see a list of my upcoming tour dates and projects.
Parlé: Do you have any aspiring words for readers and fans?
Donn T: Stay true to yourself… I am!
For all those attending The 8th Annual Roots Picnic, Donn T will be going on at 12:30 pm (Sharp). Saturday, May 30th at Festival Pier in Philadelphia, PA be sure to check out her main website and social media for upcoming tour dates.
If you’re in Philadelphia you can also check her out when the Thursday Night Music Series Presents Donn T on Thursday June 25th, 6pm at 23rd & South Street.