Donna Dean

Donna Dean

 Papakura, Auckland, NZL
DuoAmericanaSinger/Songwriter

Donna Dean writes with the poetic economy of musicians like James McMurtry and Dolly Parton and authors like Appalachia's Ron Rash, in that she can sketch in a story in a few words. Duo partner John Egenes has been a sideman for Bill & Bonnie Herne, Lyle Lovett, Eliza Gilkyson, Nancy Griffith and many more. John is a multi instrumentalist, songwriter and author.

Biography

Donna Dean's first musical heroes were her parents, grandfather and aunts she heard sing and play around the kitchen table as a child. Her mother mimicked the unmistakeable guitar riffs of Jimmie Rogers and Maybelle Carter which had a profound and lasting impression on Dean. Her mother taught a young Donna a few chords on guitar so that by age 11 she was composing songs and playing them for her school friends. 
I
n her 12th year, Dean's uncle introduced her to Bluegrass music when he bought a vinyl copy of the 1972 release 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken' by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band which features legends Roy Acuff, "Mother" Maybelle Carter, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Merle Travis and others. That early musical influence turned to gold when Donna's song 'Destination Life' was chosen as the title track of American artist Rhonda Vincent's 2009 Grammy nominated Bluegrass album.
At 13, the music of Credence Clearwater Revival became of interest when one her cousins was listening  incessantly to a CCR album. The band's songwriting made it's mark on Donna. Not very long after, her deep connection with music went into a long hibernation. 
Live stage performance wasn't to come until a troubled, stifling relationship which began in her teens, ended in her late 20's. It was then that the flood gates opened. Her debut album 'Destination Life' was released in 1998 followed a year later by 'Between You & Me'. Her fourth album 'Money', featuring American country-rock band The Amazing Rhythm Aces, won 2004 Best Country Song & Best Country Album. A double win came again in 2011 for Dean's 'What Am I Gonna Do?' album. 'Tyre Tracks & Broken Hearts', produced by John Egenes, was nominated Best Country Album 2013. The album features Albert Lee, Amos Garrett, Redd Volkaert and Gurf Morlix. 'Rosebud', her 2014 album, also produced by John Egenes, consists of 11 stripped back tracks recorded in a single day while on tour. 

A true pioneer of the Americana singer-songwriter scene in New Zealand, paving the way for a new generation (Marlon WilliamsMel Parsons and others) Dean has opened shows for Spooner Oldham, Dan Penn, Don Mclean, Jimmy Webb, Katy Moffatt, Bert Jansch and Eric Bibb and more. While touring Germany Dean has been a feature artist on the same bill as Willie Nelson and opened shows for Texas artists Eric Taylor and Terry Allen.
Summer 2013, Dean was a guest at Nashville songwriters Mecca, The Bluebird Cafe, alongside Australia's Paul Kelly.
She was a guest at the 2016 Illawarra folk festival, Australia and Auckland folk festival, New Zealand. She will headline at Whare Flat folk festival in NZ's south over new years eve 2016/2017. 

Donna's life and music was the focus of award winning documentary film 'The Sound of Her Guitar' released in New Zealand in May 2016. The film opened the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival in Canada November 2017. 
"The Sound of Her Guitar is brave and beautiful​. This is must-see documentary film-making".
Simon Sweetman read full review

CD Reviews  John Apice (No Depression)http://www.nodepression.com/article/cd-review-donna-dean-%E2%80%93-what-am-i-gonna-do-%E2%80%93-distributed-ode-records

New Zealand Music Industry Awards
RIANZ Nominee Best Country Album Award 2013
Best Country Song Award 2010 awarded by APRA (Australasian Performing Rights Association)
Best Country Album Award 2010 awarded by RIANZ (Recording Industry Association New Zealand)
Best Country Song Award 2004 awarded by APRA (Australasian Performing Rights Association)Best Country Album Award 2004 awarded by RIANZ (Recording Industry Association New Zealand)




Lyrics

What Am I Gonna Do?

Written By: Donna Dean

What Am I Gonna Do Key G

Been walkin’ on egg shells round you lately
Not knowin’ which way to go
Been feeling kinda shaky
Cause I know some time it’s all gonna blow

I’ve been here before
I said I wasn’t gonna do this anymore
Now what am I gonna do

You blame it on your boss
You blame it on the weather
You blame it on the drink you had last night
Say my imagination got the better
Of me and that everything is alright

I’ve been here before
I said I wasn’t gonna do this anymore
Now what am I gonna do

Wait until you’re sleeping
Maybe then I’ll take it
A chance to get somewhere before you wake
Standing in the doorway something’s keepin’
My feet from walkin’ away

I’ve been here before
I said I wasn’t gonna do this anymore
Now what am I gonna do

Twister

Written By: Donna Dean

he looked up from her body
put his hands to his head
saw the blood on his fingers
I knew that she was dead
she was lying in a pillow
of butter yellow lace
her golden hair all crimson
crushed across her face

why’d you do it John
take her life like that
she was all I had you knew that
why’d you do it John
take her life like that
she was all I had
I want my mother back

she was kind and simple
he was cold and sad
he’d rage like a twister
when me and my mother laughed
when he started drinking
he’d all my mother names
then when he got fired
he said she was to blame

Tyre Tracks & Broken Hearts

Written By: Donna Dean

born in a circus tent
mother held me to her breast
tried to keep me warm
fighting for a chance
to survive circumstance
never letting go

oh deep inside the bones
oh circus is the only life I know

eighteen seen the world
no one keeps a circus girl distracted for long
tyre tracks and broken hearts
nothing but an empty park
when the tent is gone

ticket stand at fifty five
don’t complain done my time
on swings and tightropes
have a daughter and a son
work the big top neither one
I can tell has high hopes

Dangerous

Written By: Donna Dean

if you're dangerous
I will yield to you
if you're dangerous
I'll be careless too
you can count on me
to lose the fight
if you're dangerous

if you're reckless
callous and unkind
it's reckless
but that is what I like
you can count on me
to lose the fight
if you're reckless

nothing to feel
if the stars are bright
the darker it is
I come alive

dangerous
I can feel the heat
dangerous
it's like a disease
you can count on me
to lose the fight
if you're dangerous

dangerous
dangerous
you can come to me
I need that pain
be dangerous

Not The Rifle

Written By: Donna Dean

Oh I read it
in the bible
love your brother
not the rifle
go love your brother
your brother is good
I gave all the love that I could
brother hates me

oh I saw it on a cover
look like this to find a lover
use all your credit
to fix up your hair
bank will come knocking
but why should you care
be a debtor

I read it in the paper
don't believe it
he's no faker
he is a winner
so vote for the guy
even if he's bleeding you dry
he's a liar

Oh I read it
in the bible
love your brother
not the rifle
go love your brother
your brother is good
I gave all the love that I could
brother hates me

Discography

Rosebud 2014
Tyre Tracks & Broken Hearts 2012
What Am I Gonna Do? 2010
Money extended 2003
A Little Faith 2000
Money 2000
Between You & Me 1999
Destination Life 1998

Set List

Not The Rifleue
Dangerous
Twister
Rosebud
Fireflies
What Am I Gonna Do?
Rodriguez
Kisses & Other Things
Holiday Moon
Deep Trouble Now
Get Your Hands Dirty
When I Drink