Madonna once said, “I’ve always admired Donna’s voice; her songwriting is poignant and heartfelt.” She was saying this about Donna De Lory, her back-up singer of nearly twenty years. De Lory, who herself is a veteran of music, performing on albums with Santana, Carly Simon, Belinda Carlisle, and, of course Madonna, still remains a fresh artist in the music industry.
Originally suggested by Madonna’s songwriting partner at the time, Patrick Leonard; De Lory was hired by Madonna in 1987 as a background singer for her worldwide Who’s That Girl Tour, but it didn’t end there.
Donna appeared not only in the background but on the side of Madonna, along with other back-up singer Nikki Harris on classic tours such as Blond Ambition, The Girle Show, and The Drowned World Tour. De Lory is a songwriter and has had several albums over the years. It was 1992 that saw her self-titled debut album, with the #1 dance hit “Just A Dream,” which was co-written by Madonna herself during her sessions for 1989’s Like a Prayer.
Since her initial success, she has explored the musical world of meditation. Albums such as Bliss, In the Glow, The Lover and the Beloved, and Sky is Open are less-pop and more metro-spiritual.
“I just started along this path of doing healing music, going back to Bliss, writing songs about certain things in my past, about remembering my mother and where I came from, doing music has always been spiritual for me,” says the singer.
On why the singer would have gone down the Sanskrit route, Donna says, “I’ve studied more yoga and have a little more knowledge [of it]. I know more about the Sanskrit and the mantras, and I did a mantra CD that was very popular, this [album, Sanctuary,] is kind of a follow up to that CD. People who loved that CD were asking for another one.”
That sequel album is Sanctuary, released in 2008, has already become a metro-spiritual staple. Songs such as ‘Bathe in These Waters” and “Jai Ma,” are all yoga ready.
As the back-up singer of the world’s top selling female artist, one would think that De Lory would want that fame and success, but for her, it’s the contrary. According to Donna, “I really wanted to make this beautiful music…by me, really, just going inside and saying this is what I want to say, not worrying about trying to get on the radio, and not worrying about having a hit song, or try to be hugely successful and sell millions.”
De Lory is one artist who has stayed true to her audience, but in there lays the challenge for the singer/songwriter. “Every artist represents a certain group of people, but you have to say ‘it’s going to touch certain people and they are going to relate to it’. She continues, “I just keep writing songs, [and] they have a message in them.”
For true blue Madonna fans everywhere, there lies the question if De Lory will ever get back on tour with Madonna. “I used to say I would never again, and then I did,” De Lory says. “I mean I have different needs in my life [now], and there are times I’m working so hard with her, I don’t even have time to do my music. So then that becomes a small conflict there, so we’ll see,” Donna continues.
Ultimately, De Lory is certain a collaboration of some sort will happen again. “I’m sure I’ll work with her again in some context, we’ve been friends for a long time and we sound great together, so I’m sure there will be some opportunity, I’ve love to do another big benefit concert with her,” she says.