Bluegrass fans everywhere are indebted to the songwriters who create the songs performed by our favorite artists. One such writer is Donna Hughes. I first met Donna in NC at a birthday party. There were many of us there jamming and playing songs we like, some traditional, some newer. Donna would occasionally sing one of her songs and we would all be amazed at the writing of this young woman. Not long after that she wrote a song that was later recorded by Alison Krauss and Union Station, My Poor Old Heart.
Now Donna is releasing a new record on the Rounder label that features 12 original tracks written by Donna, as well as two tracks additional tracks she did not write (I won’t tell you what they are, but you’ll want to hear them.). The album title is Gaining Wisdom and release date is scheduled for February 27, 2007.
Legendary guitarist Tony Rice took the helm as producer of the project. A job he sought out and initiated.
I was over at the home of my friends Steve and Kathi Fox, and they had Same Old Me on the hi-fi. After a few songs, I had to ask ‚ÄòWho is that?’ The more I listened to her music that day, the more I heard in it. The idea of producing an album of hers intrigued me…As a performer, she has great flexibility. She could sit down at a really good Steinway at one venue, and the next night play guitar in front of a straight-ahead bluegrass band. This makes producing her a great challenge: you want to illuminate what is recognizable and classic about her music – to make clear her very strong ties to bluegrass – while remaining true to what is so special about Donna.
Tony called Donna and suggested that she record another album of her material and let him produce it. Donna, being a long time fan of Rice’s music, was quick to agree and soon a deal was cut with Rounder Records.
Everyone likes her songs saying that she writes about common topics, but does so from a unique perspective. Donna says she just writes what she knows, and that her songs are always based on something true.
My songs are always about something I have seen, done, or felt – or something that I saw someone else do or go through. There is always truth to every song I write, even if it isn’t my truth.
The disc includes harmonies by Alison Krauss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tony Rice, Sonya Isaacs, Rhonda Vincent, Alecia Nugent, Lona Heins & Carl Jackson. Also appearing instrumentally on the recording are Sam Bush, Wyatt Rice, Rob Ickes, Scott Vestal, Mike Bub, Tim Stafford, Ron Stewart, Wayne Benson, Rickie Simpkins, Bryn Bright, and Kati Penn.
With this kind of line up combined with Rice’s producing skills and Donna songwriting and singing, this is one CD you’re going to want.
Visit Donna at her MySpace page for previews of several songs from Gaining Wisdom.