Donna Frost the person who about Elvis working in a toll booth

By Dan Locke

Donna Frost is a true traveling troubadour, logging thousands of miles year round performing shows in cities all across the US and around the world.  She performs solo with her guitars, ukuleles and mandolin most times and also plays select shows with her band.   She is currently promoting her latest 2 CD’s. “Bare Bones”, a collaboration with rockabilly legend, Billy Hancock, was released June of 2014. It includes tracks recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis, TN. Her fourth solo CD is “Ukeabilly Mama”, which is her first all ukulele music project that was released in August of 2014. It has been receiving a lot of positive response all over!   Donna’s had singles from all three of her previous albums place in the top 40 independent overseas charts. She has been an ASCAPlus recipient for the past 11 years for her work as a performing songwriter and was a Kerrville New Folk finalist in 2004. She sang harmonies with Grand Ole Opry legend, the late Skeeter Davis from 1996-2002. Donna performed Skeeter’s hit “The End of the World” at the induction ceremony for Skeeter at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in April 2013. She acts in theatrical productions, including a starring role as Janis Joplin in “Kozmic Blue” & works as an extra in movies, music videos and TV, including all 6 seasons of the popular series “Nashville” which is now on CMT. Donna received an artist endorsement in October 2015 from Kamoa Ukulele Company and in June of 2016 from Luna Guitars. She is an active performer with Music for Seniors, an organization that provides live music for seniors in various facilities; most are Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. She also was with Musicians on Call for 5 years (performing for patients in hospitals and hospices) and with Songs of Love for 5 years (writing and producing songs for children with life threatening illnesses). She is also very involved with Humane Society of Sumner County. Donna has contributed to two books, “Tales from the Rock and Roll Highway” by Marley Brandt and “The Other Side of Nashville” by Keith A. Gordon. She is currently writing her first book, “Guitars, Ukes and Sequin Boots: My Life in Song”. Donna is also available for ukulele and songwriting workshops in addition to her live performances. She is a prolific songwriter with over 300 songs in her catalogue and will be recording her 6th album in spring of 2018.-donnafrost.com

 

Donna Frost at the Purple Fiddle (credit: Dan Locke)

Unrated Magazine: Tell me about your background.  How did you get interested in Music?

Donna Frost: I was born into it, literally.  Both my parents sing and were performing together along with his brothers, and her sister.  My grandparents on both sides and their siblings were singers too.  All were/are gospel singers. Mom and Dad were traveling with their group up until 2 weeks before I was born.  2 weeks after, they were taking me with them.  As soon as I could walk and talk I wanted to get on stage with them.  There was always music in the house and we were always encouraged to pursue it.

UR: Did you play any instruments while growing up?

Donna: Yes.  I started taking piano lessons when I was 9.  My aunt Mary played piano and I wanted to do that too.  She paid for my lessons.  I bought my piano with money I earned myself selling Christmas cards. But a couple of years later the guitar became my true love. I had been obsessed with guitar since I had seen the Beatles on Ed Sullivan way back when.  I knew that was my calling!  Beatlemania was at its height and my folks, my 2 brothers and I were all fans, my parents bought us the records, Mom took us to see A Hard Day’s Night in the theater   Mary bought me a classical guitar and signed me up for lessons.  I practiced every day.  I had a record player and I’d play along with my albums, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jon I Mitchell, July Collins, on and on.

UR: Tell me about your first gig?

Donna: My first gig was a big one. My dad and his brothers were performing at a benefit for handicapped children at War Memorial Auditorium in NashvilleJerry Reed was the headliner. I was 13 and singing in a folk duo with a friend of mine, Harriet Moran.  Dad got us on the show.  We sang Both Sides Now and Today.

UR: What was the first band you played with?

Donna: First band I was in was my dad’s country band. I was a teenager.  My uncle John was in it along with various family and friends.  We were on the road most weekends.

UR: Tell me about the Bunnies, one of Nashville’s first punk-rock bands?

Donna: That formed from my dad’s backup band years later, which by that time was my youngest brother Tony and some of our friends.  At the time, Nashville, much to the dismay of Music Row, had a big alternative/new wave scene going on.  All of our friends had bands, so we wanted in on it too.  We formed The Bunnies, and off we went!  One of the most fun periods of my life

UR: How were you discovered?

Donna: I have been out here so long, playing all over, I’m not sure when or how I was discovered.

Donna Frost at the Purple Fiddle (credit: Dan Locke)

UR: Who are some of the bands you have open up for?

Donna: This is through the years. Skeeter Davis, 10,000 Maniacs, Walter Egan, James Lee Stanley, Kentucky Headhunters, Exile, I’d have to go back more. Most times I’ve been paired with local acts.

UR: What can you tell me any new music that is coming out?

Donna: I just started recording my 6th album last week!  Stay tuned!

UR: Any plans to tour?

Donna: I’m on tour year round always!

UR: What is the Genre of your music?

Donna: Americana.  There’s a mix of folk, rock, country, rockabilly. All over the place

UR: What is your feeling about Vinyl?

Donna: I LOVE vinyl.  I have a huge collection from my childhood through today.  I never got rid of my albums.  I still have a turntable, I still listen to mine and buy up more albums.  Vinyl is the BEST

UR: What are some of the some of the bands which Influences your music?

Donna: Too many to single out.  Of course The Beatles and Stones! Brian Wilson Joni Mitchell. Gram Parsons. Jim Croce. Bruce Springsteen. Lucinda Williams

UR: Where does you music come from?

Donna: My heart. My soul.  Life experiences.  Places I have been.

UR: Who would you like to open up for you?

Donna: Being alive or dead. Too many to choose from!

UR: What instruments do us on tour vs. the ones you record with in the studio?

Donna: I always use my Washburn 12 string and my Kamoa concert ukulele.  Some shows I also play my Gold Ovation mandolin and Gold Tone resonator.  In studio I use the Washburn 12.  I have Lunas Tattoo use it have used in studio and out live, ditto my Takamine G series 6 string.  Those were the 2 I used in studio and live for years

UR: What is the biggest crowd you have play for?

Donna: In Barbados with Skeeter Davis and Bobby Bare, 7-8,000

UR: What direction do you see your music heading in the next 2 years and your long term goals of your music?

Donna: I am on an amazing journey.  My music has changed through the years as I grow older.  I certainly have a different take on things at age 60 than when I was,30.  I’m a storyteller, and just want to lift people’s spirits and encourage them through my songs.  Long term goal…I just plan to keep writing and performing as long as I am physically able.

UR: What fest would you like to play?

Donna: Any and all!

UR: Have you looked into the Nelsonville Music Fest?

Donna: No, I’d love to know more.

UR: Who would you like to open up for?

Donna: It would be an honor to open for whomever it may be.

UR: Who would you like to be a support artist for?

Donna: Same answer as above.

UR: What artist would you like to play with and why?
Donna: Living or dead? Joni Mitchell.  Her writing, her voice, her tunings.  She has influenced me most.  I would love to play with her.   Brian Wilson. The man is a genius and a hero of mine.  My favorite album of all time is Pet Sounds.  I saw him in concert last year, he and his band performed Pet Sounds in its entirety.  Amazing!

UR: Are you BMI or ASCAP?

Donna: ASCAP

Donna Frost at the Purple Fiddle (credit: Dan Locke)

UR: What is on you iPod or phone right now?

Donna: I don’t do IPod. I listen to CDs or vinyl.  And at the present time  I am not listening to anyone on my phone.

UR:What do you do if you are not playing music?

Donna: I paint.  I just took that up a little over a year ago.  I paint on porcelain and have painted over 100 pieces…pendants, plates, tiles, etc.  I also work as a background actor, I have been in episodes of Nashville all 6 seasons, plus recent documentary about Martin Luther on CBN, a recent episode of Chrisley Knows Best, some music videos including Kip Moore’s “I’m to Blame”, some indie films, etc.

UR: If you could pick any cartoon character who would it be and why?

Donna: Snoopy. I love his spirit.  I love dogs.

UR: What music do you listens to relax?

Donna: So many. Depends on my mood.  I carry a big tote bag of CDs on the road.  Right now I have Beatles, Beach Boys, Michael Nesmith, Glen Campbell, NRBQ, The Zombies, Joni Mitchell, Amy Winehouse, Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, George Harrison solo, The Who, on and on..

UR: Anything you like to close with?

Donna: I am proof you are never too old to follow your dream!  And how thankful I am for this musical journey I am on

UR: Thank you for you interview and it was great to see you perform again.

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