A native New Yorker, Donna started thrilling audiences at 11 years, of age, singing, dancing and acting in shows in the Catskill mountains. Music runs in the family. American composer Aaron Copeland , Danny Kaye and Mom who was a specialist on the piano-she could play any song she heard on the radio--but only in the key of C! Donna's brother was the 'first trumpet' in Music and Art High School. You may say Donna inherited her good ear from her mother. After Donna took piano lessons for three years, her teacher discovered she had played her lessons by ear and never read the music! Thanks Mom. Later Donna made up for lost lessons and went back to her studies.
Donna's singing career took off in her twenties. She traveled across the country for 13 years with her own ever evolving bands.In New York,. She sang at clubs such as Sweet Basil's in the West Village and Scrambles in Soho. At Sweet Basil's she sang with Kenny Barron, Richard Davis (bass player for Sarah Vaughan) who is now head of the University of Wisconsin's Music Department, Jon Faddis, Ricky Ford, and Freddie Waitts. At Scrambles,she sang, accompanied by Lloyd Lifton, a disciple of Lenny Tristano, and with Larry Arlotta, the keyboardist for Blood Sweat and Tears. Some people were lucky enough to hear her sit in with Bob Dourough. She also played with George Mitchell, Lynn Keller, Ron Brown, and Mel Brown (from the Diana Ross rhythm section), and she has opened for such renowned artists as The Lettermen and Dionne Warwick.
Attracted by the vibrant jazz scene in Austin, Donna drove down to Texas in her Volkswagen and sat in with the James Polk Quintet. This began a long musical collaboration with James Polk, who played keyboards and arranged for Ray Charles.
In Austin, she has sung with Collaborative Voices, a six-piece accappella group created by and under the direction of Tina Marsh. She has also sung with Women in Jazz, and Austin Klezmorium. She has performed at all the city's best-known venues, (including as the Driskill Hotel), plus many private engagements. Donna is one of three singer's involved in the Austin Jazz Workshop, a granted program that goes into elementary schools to provide educational classes and performances that nurture the appreciation of music and the possibility of making music a career. She also appeared in Austin at Aqua Fest and 'One World Theatre'. Internationally she performed at the Jazz Cafe in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia and Sanur Bali.
Her repertoire includes decades of jazz, latin, blues and the best in contemporary and popular music. She has recorded radio and television jingles, videotapes for public television, and original compositions of her own as well as for other artists.
In 2003, Donna appeared as an actor, singer and dancer in the shows Cafe du Cachet and Dyin' to Swing at the Dougherty Arts Theatre, Austin, Texas. Recently, she performed on the famous cruise ship the QE2.
Donna has taught at:
Her studies include: