No matter what type of music Roberta Donnay is performing, she sings with the spontaneity, honesty and the individuality of the best jazz vocalists. A colorful and passionate performer, she is a joy to see in concert and to hear on records.
In her multi-faceted musical career, Donnay has won numerous awards for her work as a singer/songwriter. However, her first musical love has always been jazz. After the critical success of her 2008 album of jazz standards, “What’s Your Story”, produced by NEA Jazz Master Orrin Keepnews, she is now focusing her attention on the music of the Prohibition Era, with her beguiling and entertaining new recording, A Little Sugar. This impeccably produced bit of confection is a hip tribute to Donnay’s favorite Prohibition Era women singers, and will mark her debut on the rising New York City based Motéma label on November 11, 2012.
The slight red head with the engaging smile has great passion behind her enthusiasm for this Prohibition proto-jazz. Donnay speaks with an infectious delight about what this project means to her. "Besides the music, one of my favorite things about this project is the message,” she relates.” The women who sang, and in some cases wrote, these songs are heroic. Their attitude and energy is strong, confident, courageous and vibrant. They’re no push-overs for any man. And the strong image of the women from this era made me want to study more about it.”
“For instance, I was a long-time Mae West fan, and used to listen to her lines from the movies, which she mostly wrote herself. There seemed to be no sexual boundaries with Mae. She knew how to put men in their place while flirting with them at the same time. But she never gave away her power!” Donnay explains. “This got me wondering, along with the lyrics to many of these songs, ‘What happened to women between the 1920’s and the 1950’s? What happened to the outspoken voice of the women in society?’ And so I started digging and found that I'm really closer to the attitudes of the women of that era than many of the women of today."