Rhymes of Passion
Donna Jose says that she feels a bit uncomfortable when she lives in a location that doesn't include a nearby body of water. She was raised in upstate New York where her father worked on the Seaway. When she moved to Portland, Oregon she attended The University of Portland which overlooks the Willamette River, a rambling body of water that cuts a swath through the city and beckons sea going trade from around the world. It was at a Willamette River top-of-the-bluff tavern in the mid-seventies where she met a musical mentor that converted her formal musical training into the songwriting and singing that draws attentive audiences today. At the time, she wasn't even old enough to legally enter the Portway Tavern where Steven Turnbull, after a hard day's work on the river, would hold forth at night, playing his acoustic guitar, singing his own originals, entertaining the patrons with American music of all descriptions. Donna shyly accompanied the older and much saltier log rafter with her back to the audience, until he finally encouraged her by saying 'Donna, you're good. You can do this too. Now turn around here and give the people what you've got. They're lovin' it.' Donna had already penned several originals, and had begun to blossom as a songwriter. Her considerable vocal talents and feel for delivering a song were never in question. Performing became second nature, and pub patrons were loving what they heard. First came an early recording effort she claims she wants to bury, then a critically acclaimed CD 'Rhymes of Passion,' that began to gain her international attention. In 2002, a second CD, 'On The Road With Buddha's Cat,' produced by Mel Kubik, another of Portland's most musically talented women, established Donna as one of the finest recording artists anywhere in the world. With no record contract or distribution deal, Donna sold a thousands of CDs from the stage by waving toward them in the middle of a performance, marketing being an afterthought at best. By the time she'd collected enough material for a third CD she started asking herself questions like, 'Should I be paying more attention to business? I'd really like to be doing this full time.' As a single parent, Donnaâ??s job as a nurse practitioner had put her daughter through college, and it was time to make a life decision. Oregon Public Broadcasting had featured her on Artbeat which highlighted her recording of 'On The Road,' while NPR's Car Talk had played her 'Driving' single to the whole mechanically challenged world. During this time she'd begun making pilgrimages to England, Ireland, and Scotland to play festivals and pubs, sell CDs and her charming personality to what was becoming an ever increasingly loyal fan base. Soon the decision came to leave off with the medical profession, and turn to her musical patients, where a visit to Donna's stage has become a very warm and satisfying place to find sonic healing. Donna has hosted an 'open mike' event on Thursdays at a place called Mock Crest Tavern for the past year, when she's not on the road. The place used to be home to a few regulars who would stop in after work and forget to go home until closing time. These days it's like the fire marshal forgot to drop off the capacity sign. A trip from the front door to the men's room means you'll be rubbing elbows and several other body parts with many of your 'closest' friends. That happy fact can be linked directly to Donna's contagious songs and winning smile; she opens each night with a collection of her own tunes. The capacity crowd can tell you, Donna Jose is worth the jostle. Coming soon to a body of water near you. Bill Keenom Co-author, 'Michael Bloomfield - If You Love These Blues'