Donna Hughes

Donna Hughes


Progressive, contemporary bluegrass & acoustic music. Tony Rice loves Donna's piano playing, and has encouraged her to involve it more, causing her music to spread across more genres.


Donna Hughes has written well over 250 songs, inspired by everything from family experiences, to heart break. Donna grew up part of a close knit family on a small farm in Trinity, North Carolina. Her musical odyssey began when she started playing melodies on a piano at age three. The first song she ever played was "You Light Up My Life," and then shortly after "When the Saints Come Marching In," at age 3 with her right hand. Her parents were excited and pleased, but would grimly discover that they would have many years to endure of Donna making lots of disturbing noise with that piano. Many interrupted television programs and phone calls later, her parents would be thrilled to suddenly hear her composing her own music.
Shy about singing, and never singing in public until after graduating from college, Donna first began singing in her church, Westfield Baptist. She has served as Church Pianist for the small church, attended by her family for many generations.

Donna plays guitar also, and has entered and won 1st place at many bluegrass competitions in the vocal category. She was once a member of two North Carolina based bands, "Wildwood" and "Different Directions" In 1996, Donna recorded a demo album of songs she had written, but didn't have the knowledge of the music industry to promote it at that time. So she worked harder, writing nine of the songs on her first bluegrass album, Somewhere In Time, including the title cut. The album, released in June of 2001, received air play and recognition worldwide, and landed her great reviews in many popular bluegrass & acoustic music publications. A couple of her original tunes were selected for "DJ's Hot Picks" in several issues of Bluegrass Now Magazine. Donna's second album, Same Old Me contains 21 original songs. In her quest for a record deal, and/or getting a song cut, she left no stone unturned. Shortly before Christmas of 2003, Donna received a phone call out of the blue from Tony Rice. He had been given a copy of Donna's Same Old Me album. Impressed with the fact that she wrote all 21 songs, he asked if he could produce her next album, which eventually led to her signing a recording contract with Rounder Records. He stated it was simply a "box car load of great tunes." Ironically at that time, her car CD changer was filled with Tony Rice albums. To Donna, it was such a welcome relief to get recognition from such an extraordinary musical hero, after all of her hard work. Donna's new album was released on Rounder Records in late February 2007, produced by the legendary Mr. Rice and a host of special guest including Alison Krauss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Carl Jackson, Sonya Isaacs and many more. Tony Rice later stated that "She is an artist that has the potential to go as far in music as she wants," and called her Same Old Me album, a "21-song Masterpiece." Donna was chosen in 2006 for the third year in a row, to perform at the "International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Songwriter Showcase. Donna was also chosen for the second year in a row to appear on the IBMA Master's Stage for the Songwriting Workshop. Barry Bales, bass player for Alison Krauss & Union Station heard Donna while listening to WNCW, in Spindale, NC. Barry called the radio station and to get her phone number from DJ, Dennis Jones. Barry then contacted Donna telling her that he "really liked what he had heard." He requested she send her songs for their band's consideration. Donna has been a huge fan of Alison Krauss and Union Station for many years, and was truly honored that they took notice of her work. The song the band recorded was My Poor Old Heart, which appears on the album Lonely Runs Both Ways. The album received a Grammy for "Country Album of the Year" in 2005. The band later performed My Poor Old Heart at the 2006 CMA Awards Show. Donna songs have also been recorded by other artists, including the 2005 Country Colgate Showdown winner, Heather Shelley, who recorded Donna's song "Not Anymore." According to Donna, "Heather's abilities are absolutely beyond amazing, and I am certainly rooting for her to become a huge star." The Seldom Scene, long-time veterans of bluegrass, recently recorded Donna's song Sad Old Train.

Some of Donna's greatest influences include: Tony Rice, Alison Krauss, Blue Highway, Alan Jackson, Tori Amos, Bela Fleck, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sting, Elvis, Del McCoury, Patty Loveless, Classical Music, Dolly Parton, Van Halen, Hank Williams, Suzy Bogguss, hip-hop.


Somewhere In Time - 2001
Same Old Me - year?
Gaining Wisdom - 2007

Set List

Need this information