Donna De Lory has had a fabulous career in music. Aside her own solo career, she's been in and out of Madonna's creative world for decades. Here she answers questions about her new solo record, recording with Madonna and the highlights from her thirty year career.
It must have been great growing up in such a musical family. Did you always know you would end up in the music business?
Yes!!! All I ever wanted to do was sing. It’s really all I knew from being around my father and so many great musical artists growing up.
You were only in your early twenties when you went on board the Who's That Girl tour. Do you remember your first meeting with Madonna? Did you gel straight away?
I had to audition for her and felt intimidated by her strong personality at first. I was nervous because I wanted the job so bad. When I got called to the rehearsal stage and we sang together, I knew our voices were magic and I had a good chance at getting the job. We always had a very professional relationship with a lot of respect for each others' talent.
Musically, I think that's a really great tour. There's a tightness to it. Was it hard work on that tour to keep it so good musically in the face of the mass hysteria?
We rehearsed so much and I loved every minute of it. I was so strong with my dancing and singing so it was not hard. The very first night in Japan I was nervous and thought, maybe I can’t do this... but after the first few bars of music I felt, ah, I was made for this!
How did it compare being a solo artist, when you had your first singles and albums out in the late 80s and early 90s? Was it a more fulfilling experience for you in some ways?
There was so much more responsibility on me to have success and have a hit record right away. It was fulfilling to know I was stepping out as an artist because I know that was what I always wanted to be. Actually what I always dreamed of being was a singer in a band like Stevie Nicks. I had so much more respect for Madonna when I went to tour with her in 1994 after I had released my solo album. It was nice to support her while she made all of the decisions and I just got to sing, dance and dress up in some amazing costumes and have so much fun with the audience.
I think Like A Prayer is Madonna's best album as a whole. What were some of your personal highlights from singing on the album?
I love Cherish and love to hear the way our voices blend on that song.
I'm Breathless is very underrated in my view. Was it fun to work on that one?
Yes because the music was so different, sounds from a different era. The vocal harmonies and style reminded me of old big band records of my mom's that I would listen to as a kid.
It doesn't get any more iconic than Vogue. What are your thoughts on that video and song now? It must have been a great experience.
I love that video! We were all so close and doing such great work. I think we were there around the clock for 2 days straight. I remember how strong that fan was as we danced. We all knew when we got the perfect take. It was a peak memory of my life.
Everyone must ask you mostly about the Blond Ambition tour. Does it often feel like a surreal memory, the sheer scale and iconic status of that tour?
It feels like a dream then I can watch some footage and remember all of the work that went into making that such a spectacle. We were dancing on the world! My daughter who is 16 said to me that she watched "Truth or Dare” and she loved it and could watch it over and over again!
1992 was a big year because you had your first solo record out and you sang on Erotica. How did those two experiences differ?
I spent months on my record writing and recording with different people. There were so many songs that I had written when I got my deal but we had to go with the ones the producers thought would be singles. Once again, it was always inspiring to me what a great songwriter Madonna was and how she would always take a different direction changing her sound. She had gotten to a place in her career then where she could do whatever music she wanted to do. It was refreshing to go work on Erotica to see what music Madonna was making and to be a musician and lend my voice and ideas to it along with Niki Haris who I still work with. Niki and I had a lot of fun singing on that album. Check out our version of Madonna’s Rain...
Out of your own solo albums, which do you like the best and feel the warmest towards? (People ask me this question about my own albums, so I know it's hard to choose.)
The Unchanging because it is a good mix of my artistry, song writing and love for world sacred music.
Bedtime Stories is, at the minute, my personal favourite Madonna album. Was that a good album to be a part of? How did you work your singing parts out on the album with Madonna?
We always started with her ideas then when she heard us sing our parts they could change and expand into something else. Niki and I always wanted to add more harmonies.
You then sang on her Nothing Really Matters single. How much input did you have on it and do you remember the recording well?
Yes, I loved the track and loved working with William Orbit - what a sweetheart and genius. When I first heard the track in the studio, I was blown away by the sounds they created together...
I often feel like the Girlie Show tour gets overlooked. Musically it's really tight. Did you enjoy this tour?
I loved that tour…. Amazing live band. Niki and I were featured in many numbers and that was exciting; it kept us very busy. I loved that version of Vogue.
I really like your The Unchanging album. There are so many varied sounds and vibes on that album. (I love the George Harrison cover.) Was that an enjoyable record to make?
Yes, I loved the recording process with Co-Producer Mac Quayle on a few tracks. He is such an amazing talent and we had so much fun in the studio in his home in Topanga not far from my house. It was also a highlight to travel to Woodstock NY to record with Tony Levin who is Peter Gabriel’s bass player. Peter is my favourite artist. I would love to sing with him one day. I just covered one of his songs, In Your Eyes in another band that I am in called La Machine De Reve.
Your new album is Here in Heaven. It's full of great songs. The production is brilliant too. How was it making this and are you enjoying the feedback from listeners? (I've been listening to it this week and I think it's brilliant.)
Thank you for the great compliment! I love to hear how people feel about the songs from the new album. I have made two videos for Listen and Piano Man and am planning my next one for the song Heaven Remix. This will involve more dancing and fun colourful costumes with an Eastern flare. I am also releasing new remixes every couple of months and plan to do limited edition vinyl as well.
Visit Donna's website for more info on her music: