Donna De Lory turns sacred mantras into ecstatic pop
Up until last year, when she was pregnant with her second child, Donna De Lory had shaked, shimmied and sung back-up vocals on every Madonna tour since 1987. For Madonna, De Lory gets tarted up in fancy costumes, but right now, she looks like the girl next door, a diminutive woman, with brown hair and no make-up. She’s a singer-songwriter in her own right, tending towards more mystical fare on CDs like Bliss, The Lover and the Beloved, and her latest, Sanctuary.
Donna De Lory has lived in the pop music world since she was a child. Her father was Al De Lory, a producer, pianist and member of Phil Spector’s Wrecking Crew in the 1960s.
Donna De Lory: I grew up in the studios, running around Capitol Records when he was a producer there. I just remember hanging out under the console of this studio and looking up at my dad and wanting to be a producer.
She got her first paycheck at age eight, for singing a Recipe Dog Food commercial. But several years ago she heard Buddhist chants sung by Dave Stringer in a kirtan. Those are group chanting sessions. De Lory sings one in a dry monotone, the way it might be sung by a traditional performer like Bhagavan Das.
Donna De Lory: There’s a string just droning one note and you’re singing along with that over and over and over again. And I heard that from him, and then put those words in the song “Ganapati Om.”
Donna De Lory turns monotone chants into ecstatic pop songs. Even her pop music has spiritual overtones, whether it’s her own songs or an electronica drenched cover of Joseph Arthur‘s “Under the Sun.” She makes his lament a hymn of rapture.
Donna De Lory’s personal music is far removed from the world of Madonna, instead of stadium stages you’ll usually find her in yoga studios.
Donna De Lory: I’m rolling my eyes and making faces as he’s asking me, yeah, it’s a big shift.
Donna De Lory’s latest album is called Sanctuary on Nutone Records. I’ve got Donna De Lory performing live on Echoes this Monday. This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))