Award-winning ROBERTA DONNAY’s tenth album, BLOSSOM-ing!, celebrates the music of Blossom Dearie, whose wispy, delicate voice is the perfect foil for Donnay’s own appealing sound. Music critic Bob Leggett called Donnay’s voice “pure sugar and honey,” while JazzTimes said, “With her singularly enticing sound, few contemporary vocalists are as well suited to dustily vintage material as jazz-blues stylist Roberta Donnay."
Donnay, a singer, composer, and producer, has been on the jazz and blues scene for over three decades. She has performed and recorded with some of the biggest names in the music industry and toured throughout the U.S. and internationally, performing at clubs, theatres, concert venues and jazz festivals.
Donnay is a recipient of the prestigious ASCAP Composers Award for her song, “One World,” which was selected as a world-peace anthem for the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations. Her music has been heard on both film and TV, as well on Serious XM Radio. She has received features in both DownBeat Magazine and JazzTimes for her prior releases.
Her earlier albums with her group, The Prohibition Mob Band, featured swinging, danceable jazz popular in speakeasies from the 1920’s and 1930’s. Donnay’s performances have become audience favorites as she dresses in period clothing and assumes a gun mol character fronting her band dressed as gangsters from the same time period.
Drawn years ago to Blossom Dearie for her simple but swinging storytelling, BLOSSOM-ing! is a true labor of love for Donnay. Dearie was a minimalist with a kittenish voice and a playful style. Donnay’s homage to Dearie captures her essence, but she adds her own sassy, bluesy interpretations that audiences have come to love.
Donnay chose 16 songs associated with Dearie for the album, written by diverse composers and lyricists. They include Peel Me A Grape, Spring In Manhattan, Just One Of Those Things, The Party’s Over, Moonlight Savings Time, and Someone To Watch Over Me, among others.
Donnay gathered some of Northern California’s finest jazz musicians for BLOSSOM-ing!, including MIKE GREENSILL (piano), RUTH DAVIES (bass), MARK LEE (drums), JOSE NETO (guitar), DAVID STURDIVANT (harmonica), and Los Angeles-based MB GORDY (percussion).
Having a mentor can change your life and Roberta has been fortunate to have had three top names in the music business who took her under their wings – Bob Dorough, Dan Hicks, and jazz producer Orrin Keepnews. All provided guidance, encouragement, and opportunities for her vocal talents to shine.
Keepnews loved her singing and offered to produce an album for her. They began a friendship in which he shared his extensive knowledge of jazz and the music industry with her.
One of the longest and most important professional relationships Donnay has experienced was with Dan Hicks, who blended elements of swing, jazz, folk and country music to create his own unique sound with his group The Hot Licks. Roberta worked and recorded with Dan over the last ten years of his life, touring the country performing in the group’s very theatrical shows.
Her association with Bob Dorough, with whom she became friends, provided the direct linkage to Blossom Dearie’s music, as he was Dearie’s close friend and collaborator. After meeting him at the Hooker’s Ball in San Francisco in the 1990s, Donnay recorded two of his songs on What’s Your Story?, produced by Keepnews. They shared musical tastes and became fast friends, and in 2011, Donnay recorded five songs with Dorough. They recorded several of the duets he had performed with Blossom, and he shared his personal insights into Blossom’s life and music. Roberta’s appreciation of Blossom’s music only grew deeper, inspiring her some twenty years later to create BLOSSOM-ing!, this tribute album that truly captures Blossom’s essence.