Donna De Lory
With amazing Donna De Lory we are talking about spirituality and light, music and mantras and her collaboration with Madonna.
Madonna's longtime backing vocal and dancer, also a singer and artist on her own, full of good energy and surrounded by a beautiful aura... here she is... ladies and gentlemen... Donna De Lory!
Dear Donna, thank you for chatting with us. You are very spiritual and devoted to Yoga and Kabbalah. In one of your emails you wished us love and light. Why do you think light is so important? What young people should understand under this term?
I feel that it is important to think of ourselves as light, as positive energy. To think that the light of truth is always there to shine through our own darkness and to guide us through our pain. The light is what sustains us and keeps us growing and healing. We are all here as beings because of the light of the sun shining on us right?
Now I get it, we can take it as kind of our special inner power but also literally. I guess that's why people from sunny places are always so happy!
There is a Mantra that I open up my next CD which is called the Gyatri Mantra that is one of the greatest mantra's of India, it says, Tat Savitur "that which is bright like the sun".
So do you think we need religions? What's your religion? Is there anything universal?
I love the way Ziggy Marley puts it when he sings,"Love is my religion". I think that all religions came from a place of truth with great intention for all. The early teachings of all religions are so beautiful meant to help us to choose a path for our lives of values, faith, love and kindness for family and community. Also to give us rituals for transformation throughout our lives and to find a deeper understanding for the human experience. When you compare religions, they are basically all saying the same thing. I learned this from studying the great teachings of Joseph Campbell, writer and scholar of Mythology and comparative religions. The spiritual teachings are guidelines for our lives, meant to humble us, to remind us of this great power that we all come from and return to. Since the beginning of man I believe there was this inner knowing of spirit. You see this expressed in ancient art and rituals of so many tribes and cultures.
You mean the modern world can be still spiritual?
I think that the modern world is longing to be spiritual because that is our true nature and where we all came from. We all want to experience our oneness, this deeper connection to all life. We are all just so distracted from this trying to just survive in our modern world. We are also drawn away from seeing this divine aspect of ourselves with the media and consumerism, so many companies trying to get us to buy buy buy to feel like we are ok. We all grow up thinking we need this or that to be beautiful to prosper. It's been a long road for me to get to this place of knowing what I really need and being conscious of when I am being distracted. We all have to wake up to this truth that we were all born perfect. We are all Divine!
We know what you mean. When you watch Truth or Dare and then I'm going to tell you a secret you can tell the difference (I mean you and especially Madonna). It's a nice transformation.
Yeah we all have evolved and continue to... on this path. I was so happy the last few years to be with Madonna to watch her consciousness grow to be more compassionate and aware of her power to help heal the world.
Her latest tours are visually stunning but some of us really miss one visual element - you and Nicki - the three of you were together on all those best Madonna tours. Do you miss it sometimes as well?
Yes, we were quite a team. I look back at some of the videos and see how unique the chemistry that we had was. I miss being in such a spectacular show but I am now working on creating that with my own music. It is so much more satisfying to my soul to work on my own art. I don't stay in as nice of hotels now that I am on my own but I am working on that.
What was you first thought when Madonna announced Sticky & Sweet tour without you on board?
I remember when Nicki Richards called me from Madonna's promo tour in New York. She told me that they would be calling me to tour for the Sticky and Sweet tour. I was already pregnant with my 2nd child Luciana. I knew that I would not be able to do the tour. I felt that the timing was right. I loved my time with Madonna. I did 6 world tours with her and grew up a lot in that time. I grew to be an artist myself and really had to break free and put all of my energy into my own art as well as raising my children.
And what about going on tour with Madonna again?
I would love to work with Madonna again with the intention of raising funds for a charity like the Live Aid or Live Earth Concert.
In one of your interviews you said she was like your older sister. Did she inspire you, your life or music career? What did you learn from her?
She was like an older sister always giving me advice on health tips and how to deal with boyfriends. I remember going to her room at night on tour to borrow some pimple cream. We would both be in our robes as she gave me some tips on how to take care of my skin on the road. She inspired me to always find courage to go past my own fears and grow as a woman, as an artist. She showed me what it took to be great, to have focus and discipline in your life and work. She was there to support me with my own music giving me a song, "Just a Dream" for my first solo CD as well as give me her support when I became a single mom. As time went on she had her own family and didn't have as much time to hang out. We always had a mutual respect there.
In Just a dream we can hear Madonna on backing vocals. How does it feel to switch the roles for a moment?
It was great. She gave me the song because it was too rock for her. As she put it, "This is more your style Donna". It was a different style than the rest of "Like A Prayer" which is the album that that song was supposed to go on. It was fun singing my lead vocals over hers. We blend perfectly as you already know.
You are an artist as well and you have your own albums. If someone magically could give you Madonna's fame and fans, would you agree knowing how it looks from the other side?
We all have our own destiny and path. I can't even imagine having what she has because I have other things that are so important to me now like spending time with my children and being in nature. I enjoyed being part of her fame while I worked with her but I don't miss it now. I love to be respected for my work and know that people are moved by my music, by the gifts that I have to give. This is satisfying to me to contribute to make this world a better place. The biggest challenge for me with that kind of fame would be having to have bodyguards by me all of the time and not be able to walk the streets on my own.
You became more than just a singer but also a dancer! We all remember your great moves on the tours. Was it fun to dance with Madonna?
I do love to dance!!! That was a big way that I connected with Madonna in the first place and I think why I got hired over the other singers when I auditioned because I could keep up with her dancing.
We suppose it must have been hard sometimes…
It was hard sometimes to rehouse over and over and over but I loved to work hard and get the routines perfect. I think the hardest moment that I can remember was when we did "Vogue" for the MTV awards. I was so afraid of dropping my fan after we threw them in the air... thankfully I didn't!!! Sometimes I would get so nervous before one of those shows and wonder, what if I forget this routine???
Haha. By the way "Vogue" from MTV Awards is so amazing! People really don't do such things anymore at award ceremonies. And 90s were so great - there were no giant screens so the stage design, costumes and routines had to make everything!
We worked so hard and were so creative in coming up wit the original ideas. We all came up wit the concept of "Vogue" in Cannes France around a table at our party at the end of the tour. The performances were like Broadway shows. There was something old fashioned about them and we were all those kinds of entertainers who could pull it off and act the part you know? Those huge screens are crazy to stand in front of too. So hot and full of electromagnetic energy!! They did take over!!
So dance was also important when you auditioned... It reminded us that we know nothing about your first meeting with Madonna! What point in your life did you meet her for the very first time? Do you remember the audition?
Long story but I'll try to make it a few words. I was working with Pat Leonard after he had heard me sing the demo for "Open Your Heart" that was submitted to Madonna for her CD True Blue. He loved my voice and hired me to sing on everyone of the albums he was producing. When the tour came up I begged him about getting me in there. I loved Madonna's music and told him, "She will love me , you know I am a dancer too!!!" She had already hired 3 girls and she wanted African American singers so that was out of the question for me. One day I got a phone call that one of the girls was fired. Something about her attitude and she got really big and couldn't fit into her costumes! I was asked to go to rehearsal that afternoon. I remember stressing over what to wear to meet Madonna. I knew that I had to look amazing and have my own look for sure so I kind of went for a Spanish vibe. I had my hair dyed black at the time. I wore a silky white pirate style shirt with tight black pants and boots and big red lips!!! I got there and it seemed every singer in Los Angeles was there to audition!! We waited around for Madonna to get there. Finally this little person in a suit with short hair and glasses walks in. Could this be her I thought? Not exactly like the image in the "Material Girl" video.
...and what did you sing?
They took us in groups of three to sing "La Isla Bonita". The other girls that I sang with were bigger and louder and very flat, not in tune. I thought that they were going to ruin it for me. Then Pat Leonard who was the music director said just Donna and Madonna sing the bridge... smart of him huh? Madonna was not facing me when I sang with her."I want to be where the sun warms the sky", She yelled out, "Stop, why aren't you singing with me?" I didn't know what to say. Pat said, "Madonna, she was singing with you and you both blend perfectly." With a funny look on her face she said, "Ok, then will you sing on all of my records?" I remember thinking does this mean I have the job??? Not yet I still had to dance with her and come back every day until she decided that she wanted me on her tour. They also secretly taped me singing at rehearsal to make sure I was singing while dancing and in tune!! Good story huh???
Wow, that's the amazing story! Ok, let's gossip... any funny Madonna backstage moments?
It was always funny to hear Madonna who was next to us under the stage, yelling, sometimes cussing while trying to do a quick costume change!! Her dresser, "Tony" was sooo used to it. We could hear everything in our in ears that she was saying... commenting on the show, the audience...
By the way is it true you don't hear the audience because of those ears?
That is true. I would always pull them out halfway to hear the audience. I don't think Madonna could do that because she really had to hear herself. It's something that you have to get used to. We didn't have them for the first couple of tours and I hurt my ears a few times from monitors being too loud!!
In In bed with Madonna (Truth or Dare) movie there is a funny moment when you imitate Belinda Carlisle (Heaven is a place on Earth)... We promise we know dozens of people (including us) doing the same thing occasionally, imitating you from this scene! Do you know it is epic?
When I was little we used to imitate Stevie Nicks like this because of her quick vibrato. You know…."stand back" and "you can go your own way" This was something that I always thought was funny!! Very silly and childlike. Nicki and I used to joke around a lot and after having sung with Belinda I was used to hearing her quick vibrato too so I imitated it to be funny. Belinda got very upset by this and who knew that the whole world would see my little joke. I think imitation is a form of flattery!!
Ha! That's what Madonna said recently about Lady Gaga! What do you think? Is Lady Gaga the new Madonna as some people say?
I love Lady Gaga. I think that she had many similar qualities as Madonna but from such a different generation. She has her own expression and beauty! I look forward to seeing how her consciousness evolves too. She can be such a positive influence to people!! I know that she is already. I loved hearing that Deepak Chopra is a good friend of hers and she gets advise from him.
Let's talk about your own music. I love your The Lover and the Beloved album. Especially Om Nama Shivaya... actually I can listen to this song all the time. In the middle of it you sing om shanti, shanti, shanti - Shanti/Ashtangi from Ray of Light came to my Madonna-fan-mind immediately. Do these songs have something in common? What is this song about?
The mantra refers to us identifying with the divine in us, knowing that we are consciousness and bliss. Shanti means peace. I love singing this word. I remember it from Madonna's song but also have heard that word in yoga class for years! I sing Shanti on my new song called "Be The Change".
It's also sung in Sanskrit... did you have to learn it, is it hard? Can you tell something more about your experience with Sanskrit and mantras in your life and music?
I first heard Sanskrit, one of the world's greatest spiritual languages, in Yoga class. I kept asking the teacher, what does that word Stira (steady) mean? I was always studying Mythology as well and came across many Sanskrit words. I always thought it would be great to put them in my songs. When I began making music with more world instrumentation like tabla's, middle eastern percussion, cello and flute. This seemed like a perfect time to use some of the mantra's as well. I had friends that were chanting mantra's with their music who had lived at Ashrams in India who would help me with my pronunciation. I also learned a lot from listening to Mantra cd's like Krishna Das and Jai Uttal.
And what are your plans for future? Are there any new records in studio you're working on?
I am working on a new CD in the studio with Mac Quayle. I am recording another version of Praying for Love many years later... Inspired by Belly Dance beats and world percussion. This CD will mix my songwriting with mantra's. There is a strong spiritual message throughout that connects us with the divine spirit that is everlasting and infinite. This place where we all come from and return back to. I love to make beautiful music that helps people to get out of their minds and back into their hearts.
When can we expect it?
Next spring. I may put a couple of tracks out by the end of the year. You will let everyone know about it right? Maybe we can have another chat about it when you hear it!
Ok, we have a deal - let us know when you release your album so we can talk to you again. You should also visit us, Polish fans are waiting for you!
I imagine that I will be touring more next year, having a new CD out. I hope to come there to meet you and so many beautiful people. I am so thankful for the support always.
During Confessions Tour in Amsterdam some of our community members met you signing your album! What would you like to say to your Polish fans at the end?
I would love to come and sing and dance with you there! Yes, let's make this happen to celebrate this life together!!!
Below some comments Donna left to our fans on Facebook!