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Musician Profile: Donna De Lory

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Donna De Lory’s new album The Unchanging brings attention to the sacred and eternal part of our selves. As can be typical of the mystery of spiritual growth, De Lory came to this unchanging place by going through changes. “Sometimes now when I’m out on tour with my band I kind of flashback to those days with Madonna and I’m really happy where I’m at now. My life now is much slower-paced.” The devotional singer spent twenty years singing and dancing on stage next to Madonna.

She pauses and reflects on that time; “One day Madonna was talking about her life and the hard work and flights and rehearsals and I looked at her and asked, “Is it worth it?” She looked piercingly into my eyes, like she was looking into my soul, and she said, “You need to ask yourself that.” That was a turning point for me; I realized I needed to make my own path.”

Since then Donna De Lory has released many solo albums including The Beloved and Sky is Open and she performs regularly at music festivals internationally. After two years of recording The Unchanging, the final mix was completed in New York by Kevin Killen, well-known for his production work with Peter Gabriel and others. The Unchanging even features original Gabriel musicians Tony Levin on bass and drummer Jerry Marotta. The esteemed rhythm section gives some of The Unchanging an early Peter Gabriel sound.

De Lory pays homage to another powerful and inspiring woman on The Unchanging on her original song “Amma.” De Lory first encountered India’s humanitarian “Hugging Saint” in 2002 through fellow spiritual musician, David Newman (Durga Das). “Amma is an example to me of what we can all be,” De Lory said. In fact the song “Amma” is based on a vivid dream that De Lory had one night. “Amma said to me, “Open up your wings, bring people inside and feed them.” Amma is a beautiful being of unconditional love.”

Also heard on the album is a baby’s voice; De Lory’s five year old daughter Luciana. “I was recording my vocals in my house and holding Luciana in my arms, breastfeeding.  She was only a few months old and you can hear her making little baby sounds. In the middle of the song she decided to start singing. I said to my engineer, “Do you think I should include this on the song?” He’s like, “Absolutely.”

The album is dedicated to another family member, De Lory’s late father. “My Dad passed last year and it was a huge thing for me,” she told S&H. De Lory included part of a voice-mail message from her father as part of the title song. A week after leaving the voice message her father had a stroke. “That was the last time I heard my Dad speak clearly. The feeling in his voice was him saying goodbye to me. But also not saying goodbye. Every morning I go for a walk out in nature and he’ll be there too.”

“The message of the record is about identifying with that unchanging aspect of who we are, which is divine and eternal.” De Lory adds, “There’s a quote I love from Anandamayi Ma; “Though the dance of creation changes around me, in the hall of eternity I shall remain the same.”

 

 

 

 


John Malkin

John Malkin is a musician, journalist, activist, and father who lives in Santa Cruz, California. His writing has been published in many magazines, including The Sun, ascent, Shambhala Sun, Sojourners, Namarupa, adbusters, Punk Planet and Ode. He’s published two books: Sounds of Freedom: Musicians on Social Change & Spirituality (Parallax Press, 2005) and The Only Alternative: Christian Nonviolent Peacemakers in America (Wipf & Stock, 2007). He’s currently completing a book about punk rock, spirituality, and anarchism.


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