Donna Lynn Kay
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Donna Lynn Kay

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Band Blues Singer/Songwriter


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"Blues Star Shines in Texas"

Toronto, Ontario CANADA

Donna Lynn Kay, do you remember her? Probably not many Blues fans in Toronto do. Donna Lynn, originally from Sudbury, ON, was just getting her Blues emergence together here playing solo slide guitar and singing at a few small clubs like Kokomo's, the last place I saw her dazzle me with her talent, before her husband Dave Musson's work took them down south to Austin, Texas. Like a few other gifted Canadian ladies of the Blues before her, Sue Foley and Robin Banks, Donna Lynn is now making a name for herself in the Blues music scene down in the Lone Star state. Since arriving in Austin four years ago, which she told me "has been a great musical experience and very exciting for me"?, she has been getting the opportunity to travel and play all over Texas, including in-store performance at the famous Antone's Record store.
She also got an incredible invite one night to play with a band that included a few living legends of the Blues, Howlin' Wolf's guitarist, Hubert Sumlin and Muddy Waters' drummer Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith and bassist Calvin Jones, What a session for her to remember! Donna Lynn has finally just released her debut indie CD titled 'electric blue' on Loose Moose Records and I have to say what an impressive recording to have in my collection and listen to. In the years she has been away her singing and slide playing have become, as they say, 'The Blues'. No wonder she's getting so many gigs there. Moving to Austin gave her a different life and though she still plays solo Donna Lynn now also performs with a regular band as well and she recorded the 'electric blue' CD with them. Of the nine tracks, seven are traditional Blues songs and two are original ballad tunes written by Donna Lynn and her husband of which the lyric of 'Take Me Dancing' really moved me.Her innovative slide style, on both electric and acoustic National guitars, make the classic Blues tunes her own because she has done them her way and did not copy them straight from the original records. Donna Lynn rocks out a fine version of Muddy Water's 'Rollin' and Tumblin' , then flows into 'Come On In My Kitchen' by the legendary Robert Johnson. The not so well known Blues artist Robert Petway's song 'Catfish Blues' is given new life in Donna Lynn's hands. One of best tracks is 'Nobody's Fault But Mine', originally recorded by 'Blind Willie' Johnson in the prewar period. My favourite cut on the CD by Donna Lynn is her interpretation of Eddie 'Son' House's 'Sundown', just her and her National Steel. The last song on the disc, 'Goin' Down To The River' was record live, so you can understand why she is making such an impact in the U.S.A.

As Donna Lynn says, "I don't think anyone can ever really replicate the playing of the great masters, but that's not the point. The secret is to find something of your own within the music." I would have to say this is very beautiful and tastefully done CD. Donna Lynn Kay I know you slid away to Austin, but hopefully someday soon, you must slide back up north and play your Blues for us once again here in Toronto. I'll be waitin' with a bunch of Blues fans.
- Eddy Brake (Blueheart Archive)

"Electric Blue is the Genuine Article"

Austin, Texas

White women playing the Blues are nothing new to Austin. Angela Strehli nurtured by Austin. Marcia Ball takes home a new blues award every few months. Toni Price keeps the Continental jumping on a weekly basis. Lou Ann Barton is illusive but important. And, on the national scene, Bonnie Raitt does quite well playing slide guitar and singing blues tunes. Add to that the fact that this reviewer is a flaming feminist out of the 60s, and you would think that this new face in town would not surprise me a bit. But, I have to admit, I judged the CD by the cover. And my first thought was, "That gorgeous blonde thing playing Delta Blues" gimmie a break."
Then I played the CD.
Turns out that Electric Blue is the genuine article. Donna Lynn Kay and her band (Spencer Jarmon on guitar, R.C. Banks on harmonica, Everett Green on bass, Mike Buck on drums) put together a fine blues collection. This musicianship is top notch, and Kay's light touch on the slide guitar is perfection itself. Kay's singing is decent, but it is her guitar work that really makes this album shine.
Songs by venerable blues legends such as Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and Blind Willie Johnson are covered in Electric Blue. "Goin' Down to the River", was recorded live for this album at the Triple Crown in San Marcos. It is over seven minutes of great playing from a band that was in perfect harmony with the song and each other that night.
The real gems on the album are the songs written by Kay and Dave Musson. One Kay and Musson composition, "Take Me Dancing,"? is delightful and shows Kay's voice to her best advantage. Another of their songs on the album, "Turn Back Time"? also give Kay's vocals more power than she achieves in the cover songs. I hope future albums from this artist will continue to feature original songs, because Kay seems to really find her voice in these tunes.
If you appreciate a good slide guitarist and love the Delta blues, don't dismiss Donna Lynn Kay because of her looks. Give her a listen instead. You'll be glad you did. Learn more about Donna Lynn Kay.
- Virginia DeBolt (Music Austin)

"Four Stars!"



Austin, Texas, a melting pot of all North-American music, blues, country, roots rock… Donna Lynn Kay is a young woman born in Ontario (Canada) but who has been living in Austin since 1998 because it is, she said: “the place to live if you love guitar and blues.” And indeed, the charming Donna likes guitar and blues!

When many use amplifiers and hide behind the last beat of the Texas legend (Steve Ray Vaughan), Donna Lynn has a completely different style and seeks in minimalism (which does not prevent the use of a handful of other instruments and superb arrangements) the essence of the blues: the soul!

She uses guitar as an accompaniment, light, sometimes folk, but very often slide. While guitar is her passion, singing is a talent she received at birth. This woman is, first and foremost, a fine singer, with a sensual voice without excess, almost ethereal, transcending old blues standards into incredible country ballads and Delta blues, beautiful and evanescent, caressing her songs with sweet honey, yet always faithful to tradition. It is beautiful; it is captivating.

Everything goes: from “Come On in My Kitchen” slow as could be, to a loud “Rollin & Tumblin”, including a melodic “Catfish Blues” and a haunting “Crossroad Blues” rather nostalgic. When she sings her own songs, we hear the voice and the style of Texas songwriters. Donna Lynn Kay admits that she likes to dig at the sources of blues to draw from the repertoire of the masters, her strength, her conviction, her voice and that her “secret” is to find “something of your own within the music.”… She has also accumulated several wonderful experiences playing with blues legends as they have passed through Austin (Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Kim Wilson, Buckwheat Zydeco and The Muddy Waters Band.) A delightful discovery of a complete artist who lives music as if there were a magic inside of her that she would show like a jewel on display.
- Francis Rateau (Blues & Co)

"The Changing Face of Blues"

Austin, Texas

More and more, the Blues is beginning to change faces. Though the origin of inspiration and influence remains the same. The most common denominator in any type of Blues music is the ability to alter the way you feel. Up then down, down then out, up from down, look and listen to the Blues from any direction and your mood and mind will most definitely be altered.
Smooth, soulful Blues emanates from the voice box of local Austin musician, Donna Lynn Kay. A relieving voice in a world of turmoil, an inspiration to not only female musicians, but to all music lovers everywhere. Making her way south across the United States, Canadian transplant-born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, Donna Lynn Kay , has called Austin home for about four years now. Appearing as someone that pursues her dreams as adamantly as Lance Armstrong has pursued the Tour De France, Kay personifies the characteristics of a true Austin musician. Working hard during the day to be able to play gigs in the evening. Staying focused on what is really important in life while leaving troubles behind. Consistently working to make her music more attainable throughout this geographic area. Her music can be heard on the sound system at Antone’s Records. But once you listen to her, her music will stay in your own internal sound system for quite awhile. Working at the University of Texas as a student advisor, Kay leaves the workplace behind when she is on stage and playing her National and Gibson guitars. A player and lover of slide guitar, Kay pays respect to highly influencial traditional Blues icons on her first CD, Electric Blue, which was recorded at Austin’s Congress House Studios. Though two of the tracks were written by Kay and creative inspiration/husband Dave Musson, Kay’s preference to play great songs written by great artists is an admirable choice. Done so in a manner that has to bring up the question, “This is your first CD?”
Joining Kay on Electric Blue were some of the local greats. Included here is drummer Mike Buck of Fabulous Thunderbirds fame. Buck lives his love of music daily by sitting in as DJ for various programs on KUT 90.5, working and sitting in with local legends from Eve Monsees to the Poodle Dog All Stars. Spencer Jarmon is a Squeezetone from Ponty Bone’s Squeezetones, a Tres Hombres songwriter, a Humble Time performer and front man for his own band, The Spencer Jarmon Group.
Joe Ely, Charlie Sexton and Linda Ronstadt have recorded RC Banks songs. An extremely talented man, Banks brings his expertise to the recording with his gift of harmonica playing.
Mark Hallman, producer, musician, engineer and songwriter has performed duties in varied calibers of capacities with the likes of Doyle Bramhall, Jr., Dan Fogelberg, Carole King, Jimmie Vaughan and Eric Johnson-just to name a few.
Everett Green on bass and Cody Richardson on guitar are preferred musicians for Kay. They would also get more attention here if I knew more about them. I’ll work on that!
About five or six years ago, Kay attended a concert in Toronto for the great RL Burnside at the Horseshoe. It was this show that inspired her to conduct research as to where this music was coming from and who else was playing it. “When I hear Son House, I get goose bumps” said Kay, who now says draws heavily from the early Delta Blues masters. On her website located at she says, “I don’t think anyone can ever really mimic the playing of the great blues players, but that’s not the point. The secret is to find something of your own in the music.”
Her CD Electric Blue contains songs written by numerous legends in the world of Blues. McKinley Morganfield’s “Rollin and Tumblin” heads up the nine-track variety platter. It wouldn’t be proper homage to Blues history without utilizing a few of Robert Johnson’s songs. Track two is “Come on in my Kitchen” and “Crossroad Blues” marks track number eight.
Regardless of origin of these songs, the melodious voice Kay offers to these recordings in an honor she is more than able to give to these artists. Unsure what the future holds for her, Kay lives life one day at a time. Taking time to appreciate the world around her positively influences the persona that is Donna Lynn Kay.
- Bill Garza (Southwest Blues)

"Her Own Style of Blues"

Boulder, Colorado

Donna Lynn Kay is a new artist to me and held my attention right away because she is a slide player and she tackles Blues standards with her own style. I found that she has a richness of feelings, subtlety and depth usually only found in more seasoned artists. And her style seems to fit somewhere between the more insistent Blues presentation or Rory Block and the mostly electric slide work of Bonnie Raitt. Donna moves between electric and acoustic…on a National steel, and combines her own tunes with lots of Blues favourites. “Rolling and Tumbling,” her first cut, moves us smoothly toward “Come on in my Kitchen”…so we get Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson right at the start – and we get a feel for her interpretations of the Blues…a calmer pacing, very clean slide work. The next cuts are her tunes, “Turn Back Time,” and “Take Me Dancing” which are engaging and vocally rich.
My personal favourite is “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” Blind Willie Johnson’s tune. Donna’s voice and National slide work seem very heartfelt and are the best examples of her Blues work on this CD. In her version of Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues,” the rhythm and pacing reminds me of Eric Clapton’s later version of this standard. And Son House’s “Sundown” is well done and smooth. The CD’s ending cut, “Goin Down to the River” is an excellent choice to round out this CD…great vocal work matched by some very nice slide guitar. If you like well-done back-porch Blues, give this one a spin.

- Peter Maves (Holler Magazine of Colorado Blues Society)


Electric Blue
Released 2006 in Canada

"Electric Blue" has garnered extensive radio airplay worldwide. Donna Lynn Kay can be heard in the USA, throughout Europe, Australia, Argentina and in Canada. In her hometown of Toronto "Electric Blue" is being played on Danny Marks' show on JAZZ FM 91.1; CIUT (University of Toronto); and CKLN (Ryerson University).



Donna Lynn Kay is a Canadian singer and slide guitarist. Musically, she draws her influences from the Mississippi Delta and from slide guitar greats like Robert Johnson, Son House, Blind Willie Johnson and Muddy Waters. After 7 years in Austin she has returned home to Canada. Donna's music is being played on radio stations in the USA and abroad. She can also be heard in Toronto on Danny Marks' show on JAZZ FM 91.1 Donna has recorded some original slide guitar work for movie of the week, Gospel of Deceit which airs in the USA and Canada.

A mix of traditional Delta Blues Slide Guitar and more modern, ambient sensibilities. Critics have described her music as eerie and haunting. Her more recent work has branched out to include sampled beats, modern rhythms and ambient electronica. When asked how a woman from Sudbury came to play slide in a recent interview, Donna replied, "The first time I ever heard slide live was back many years ago when R.L. Burnside played the Horseshoe in Toronto. This music has an honesty and a soulfulness that reaches down inside of you. With every listen I seem to take away something new. I don't think anyone can ever really replicate the playing of the great masters but that's not the point. The secret is to find something of your own in the music."

During her time in Austin, Donna Lynn was a regular on the Austin Blues Circuit, playing with such noted musicians as Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins and the Muddy Waters Band. Donna was also the featured performer for the sneak preview concert party in celebration of the PBS series, The Blues by Martin Scorsese.

Electric Blue, Donna Lynn Kay's self-produced debut album, was released in 2003 in the USA to excellent reviews. Featuring a mixture of Delta Blues and original material, Electric Blue has just been released in Canada.