Ryan Donn
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Ryan Donn

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"This Life’s been good to Ryan Donn"

January 16, 2008

IN THIS Life is the title of Ryan Donn’s recently-released second CD. The Okanagan singer/songwriter is performing music from his new album in Vernon Jan. 26.
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Ryan Donn wrote In This Life a month after meeting his wife, Kimberly, then sang it as she walked down the aisle in 2005.

Three years later the song is one of 12 on his new album, This Life, and has been chosen to be part of a compilation CD by Music BC for distribution at Midem – a trade show of sorts for the music industry – in France later this month.

Donn said when he first penned In This Life, a tribute to meeting the love of his life, he didn’t realize its significance.

“Sometimes as a songwriter, you feel like your songs know more about you than you do.”

Now that the song and the CD, released in November, are getting so much attention, the Kelowna singer/songwriter is starting to see its potential.

“I think the possibility of having my first true love song going nationwide is – it’s cool.”

Donn has had a lot of firsts in the last few years.

After performing in Japan for co-writing Kelowna’s centennial song in 2005, being named the 2004 Okanagan Music Awards male performer of the year and writing the theme song to the 2003 B.C. Disability Games, Donn took a break for personal affairs.

The 30-year-old got married, bought a house in Kelowna (though Coldstream was the couple’s first choice) and now a baby is on the way.

“I took a big break,” said Donn, adding fatherhood and the follow up to his debut album, Causewayend, are both big events.

“I keep turning to my wife and saying, ‘I’m excited about this CD, but I’m excited about the baby, too.’”

Kimberly, who grew up in Armstrong and Vernon, was just one of a handful of Donn’s relations helping out at his sold-out release party in November.

That more people wanted to see his show than space would allow turned him on to the idea of taking his show on the road, in the Okanagan anyway.

“It was the best worst problem to have, so I decided to do a tour this time.”

Donn is performing in Kelowna Jan. 25 and in Vernon at the Okanagan College campus theatre Jan. 26.

He began his tour promotion by getting on local radio stations, primarily as a musician whose music they’d play and secondly, as a guest host.

Last week Donn drove to Vernon to be on air for over an hour on Kiss FM. Donn said getting locals accustomed to his voice was worth being at the station by 7 a.m.

“I don’t think there’s a better introduction you can get.”

His single There For You is getting airplay on Kiss FM as well as on Silk FM in Kelowna, which is no small feat, even for an artist who has lived and played in the valley for 15 years.

“You have to go out there and sell yourself . . . Every radio station I’m on, it takes pestering. They really want to know that you’re serious.”

Donn, who describes his musical style as “Coldplay meets Barenaked Ladies” created an ode to his Scottish heritage (his family immigrated to B.C. as a teenager) with a track titled Scunnered.

He said the song, sung in Doric, is a piece of him he wanted to include on the album.

“I’m always asked where I’m from and I think this country is like a collage (of people with different backgrounds), so I wanted to make this CD a collage of me.”

This Life also includes Yeah Yeah, an acoustic pop ensemble and Nursery Rhyme, inspired by Donn’s day job: working with autistic children in Kelowna’s school district.

Donn, who did the coffee house scene across the valley for years, said he’s looking forward to finding out how crowds will respond to his new sound.

“Now I get the chance to play to a whole new audience and there’s the fear of showing up to an empty theatre or the possibility of people knowing my songs and having a great show.”

This time around Donn will also be performing with a band, which he said gives him support in more ways than one.

“To look around and see a whole bunch of people backing you up has been cool.”

Donn decided to do the same for friend Jeff Chiba Stearn, whose six-minute animated film Yellow Sticky Notes will run on show nights.

“It’s just a different angle to looking at world events,” Donn said of the short.

He’s also committed to helping out a club with his concerts.

Donn is donating $1 from every ticket and CD to the Okanagan Boys and Girls clubs, with a goal of raising at least $500 for the group.

“It’s a great, massive organization. They’re a very effective organization at helping every kid,” said Donn, who worked at the club in Lake Country for four years.

When Donn isn’t at work helping children with disabilities, creating and promoting his music or spending time with family, he tries to hook up with fans and peers online through networking websites such as Myspace and Facebook.

“It’s been working well for what I want it to do, which is connecting with people. That’s the thing I love the most about live performances – connecting with people.”

Ryan Donn performs at the Okanagan College Kalamalka campus theatre in Vernon at 7 p.m. Jan. 26, with advance tickets available at Bean to Cup. Donn is also performing at the college’s Kelowna campus theatre Jan. 25 at 7 p.m., with advance tickets available at Percs Place. For more information, visit www.ryandonn.com.

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- Vernon Morning Star

"Local songwriter helps keep Terry Fox’s spirt alive here"

Published: August 23, 2008 12:00 PM
Updated: August 23, 2008 10:12 PM If there was one thing Terry Fox stood for, and eventually ran for, it was helping other people.

So perhaps it is fitting that when local songwriter Ryan Donn offered his own helping hand to the folks organizing the Terry Fox Run for elementary schools in Westside, a little of that special spirit came back to help him as well.

Donn’s songs “There for You” and “In This Life” are now in regular rotation on local radio station Silk FM, thanks to a connection he made with radio personalities Andy and Tj while working on the Terry Fox Run event.

Three years ago, he was asked to write a theme song for the event by Helen Gorman Elementary school principal John McMahon.

“I wrote the song one day at Helen Gorman (Elementary) and then we went to the run to perform it. As people from the Terry Fox (organization) heard it, they asked if they could play it at their event each year,” he said.

Silk was helping with the main run in the community and, as the story goes, Donn’s own run toward commercial success took off. He kept in touch with the radio station and when his CD was released this year, the station picked up the song.

“Seemingly, me being part of the community kind of gave me a little bit of that edge,” said Donn. “(The station) gets so many CDs dropped off at its office, it’s tough for it to filter through.”

Now his name mixes along with the Celine Dions and James Taylors of the world—which certainly isn’t hurting CD sales.

“It’s been a great summer. Name awareness in Kelowna is probably at an all-time high and awareness is the biggest thing,” he said.

When he wrote the song, Donn was a classroom aide in the school district and McMahon tracked him down for his talents. But the Terry Fox organizers need all different kinds of talent to pull off their event.

As this summer draws to a close, the organizers for the Terry Fox Run need to muster up a whole new crop of helpful volunteers willing to go the extra mile, just like Ryan Donn did, to raising funds for cancer research.

If you can spare a morning to help out at the annual event, the organizers would love to hear from you.

“Primarily it’s water station helpers and course marshals that we’re looking for,” said Kim Kotowsky, volunteer coordinator. Other jobs include parking attendants, food services, set-ups and take downs, and registrations.

- By Jennifer Smith - Kelowna Capital News

"The Donn of a musical age"

Published: July 10, 2008 3:00 PM Scotsmen are known for their drive and their passion.

In Ryan Donn’s case, the Scottish-Canadian is passionate about life — and about music.

“If there’s anything Canada is, it’s almost all about what you’re passionate about,” the Kelowna musician said.

“I don’t think I’d be involved in music if I wasn’t Canadian.”

Preceding his performance at the Nakusp Music Festival, Donn will be bringing his melodic, acoustic style to Kamloops, playing Music in the Park tomorrow night.

Donn has recorded three full-length albums and has already begun making waves on several radio stations throughout the province.

His latest album, This Life, has been picked up by 25 radio stations.

His motivation?

Writing about things that are dear to him.

“Just life,” he said.

‘It goes all over the map.

“I had songs about working in the school system, I had songs about my wife — relationships but, at the same time, you want to have a variety in your music.”

Donn said two months ago, he and his wife had a baby daughter.

These events are precisely what drives him.

“You take the stuff that’s most important to you at the time . . . and try to put it to music,” he said.

In embracing his Scottish heritage, Donn has combined his own musical stylings with that of his original dialect, Doric.

“I was born over in Scotland,” he explained.

“I pretty much had to learn to speak proper Canadian.

“I have this whole other accent I talk with when I’m with my family.”

On his latest album, Donn wrote a couple songs using his original accent.

“It’s just a unique accent,” he said.

“This time I got a chance to actually talk a bit about my heritage.”

The title track from the album was recently chosen as part of a compilation CD that will be marketed to L.A. music supervisors and may be used in the motion-picture industry.

Donn has also worked on another compilation project, Cannyboy, as part of a cultural project by the attorney general being used to fight racism.

Then there’s a local Kelowna project called the 30k Club, in which Donn’s song, Love Will Lead You Home, is featured in an effort to fight homelessness and raise awareness for those who need help.

“That’s been kind of neat to be involved with that,” he said.

Donn said the opportunity we have here in Canada to see live musicians perform is simply amazing.

“It’s a gift,” he said.

“It almost boggles people’s minds that don’t live in Canada . . . you get to hear some local musicians, people can go check out new bands and new musicians in their home city.”

Donn’s performance begins tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. at the Riverside Park Bandshell.

Visit Donn’s website at ryandonn.com for more information on tour dates, news and updates.

- By Greg Sabatino - Kamloops This Week

"Socially conscious songwriter - Ryan Donn"

Socially conscious songwriter - Ryan Donn
What if good ol' Rapunzel, let down her hair

But the extensions gave way on the climb?

What if Little Bo-peep never had any sheep?

and she was really just losing her mind
What if life didn't work out as you thought it would sometimes?

Kelowna singer/songwriter Ryan Donn makes his point in three verses of Nursery Rhyme, a song with roots in a local classroom (where the kids spent a lot of time on the classic rhymes) and his day job as a Certified Education Assistant. Working for months on exercises to teach an autistic child the alphabet, he realized the kid had picked up the capitals but not the small letters. Life doesn’t always work out as you thought it would.

Ryan says that leads to inspiration. “Experience has strong emotional content and that’s what I write about.” His latest CD, This Life, features songs that echo his experiences. Canny Boy picks up the dialect of his childhood in Scotland; Yeah, Yeah is mainstream rock; the love songs trace his relationship with wife, Kim (who was on the verge of giving birth when we talked – look for songs on fatherhood); and Love Will Lead You Home has been selected as the theme song for the Kelowna Gospel Mission’s 30K Club targeting homelessness.

Articulate and animated, the 31-year-old pulses with enthusiasm when he talks social issues. “I have less time to volunteer than when I was a teen, now music can do part of that for me.” Not that he’s ever far from helping people. Following his parents’ tradition of fostering children, Ryan and Kim have opened their home to two disabled adults.

And he’s equally eager to support fellow BC musicians. His current passion is plugging Play BC, his concept of creating a movement like Buy BC to encourage the media to spotlight up and coming BC talent for 2010. “We can build legacies by building musicians’ careers.”

Keep an eye on this emerging career. Check out Ryan’s sounds and lyrics at www.ryandonn.com.
- This story first appeared in Okanagan Life (April 2008).

"Singer hopes for tower of support"

Vernon Morning Star
Singer hopes for tower of support

RYAN DONN joins fellow artists Andrew Allen and David Blair in concert Sunday to raise awareness for Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s Tower of Care campaign.
photo submitted

Text By Kristin Froneman - Vernon Morning Star

Published: February 17, 2009 7:00 PM

0 Comments Ryan Donn can add a few new fans to a growing list of people listening to his music.

Besides performing singles off his sophomore CD, Donn has found himself singing lullabies as of late.

With the birth of his baby girl Lyla at Vernon Jubilee Hospital April 18, Donn wants to give back to those fans the best way he knows how.

Donn is donating part proceeds from a concert he has organized to the VJH Foundation’s Tower of Care campaign, which will go towards equipment for the hospital’s soon-to-be erected tower. The tower, which will house the hospital’s new maternity ward along with other departments, is scheduled to open in 2011.

“My wife Kim was born here in Vernon and wanted to have the baby here,” said Donn, who just found out his wife is expecting their second child.

“Kelowna’s hospital is overcrowded and we were shocked at how crowded Vernon was. I wanted to help the hospital as I heard the Light-a-Bulb (Christmas fundraising) campaign was not reaching its goal... The staff at VJH is phenomenal and we want to bring awareness to the need there. Music is good for that.”

The fundraiser, which takes place Sunday at the Okanagan College Kalamalka Campus Theatre, also features Vernon-raised musician Andrew Allen and Vancouver’s David Blair.

“If I had a record label, I would sign Andrew. He has the best chance at making it,” said Donn. “David Blair is the closest to our style... We all follow under the Jason Mraz, John Mayer acoustic sound.”

Named best folk artist at last year’s B.C. Interior Music Awards (BCIMAs), Donn has kept up a hectic pace since the release of his second independent CD, This Life.

He has taken the marketing of the album into his own hands by contacting every contemporary adult radio station in the province, and his perseverance has paid off.

Even though This Life’s first single There For You, didn’t get picked up by the Fox TV network in the U.S. for a new series (“It came close,” said Donn), the song has been played by 25 radio stations across Canada.

However, getting stations to give it some airtime has had its share of struggles.

“When it comes down to it, radio stations would rather play Bryan Adams can-con (Canadian content) than Ryan Donn can-con,” said Donn who even spoke to the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission) about getting radio stations to play emerging can-con artists.

However, Donn has received support from Okanagan stations. This past month saw Vernon’s 107.5 KISS FM pick up his fourth single Something More, which is also being played daily on 101.5 SILK FM and EZ ROCK stations throughout the valley.

KISS FM is also sponsoring Donn’s performance with Allen and Blair.

“The Okanagan has been great. They have been playing four of my singles on a regular basis,” said Donn, who hopes to tour Europe in the near future.

Also receiving local and national recognition is Allen, who was named best new artist at the 2008 BCIMA’s.

Known in his hometown as the former frontman of band Martin as well as a former pastor at East Hill Community Church, Allen has sold more than 1,500 copies of his independently released CD The Living Room Sessions since it came out in May. He has spent the past year touring and playing live throughout Western Canada and the U.K. and is currently working to complete his follow-up EP with producer Jeff Dawson (Daniel Powter, Kelly Rowland, The Dudes), expected to be released in early spring.

Winner of best adult contemporary album from Toronto’s Exclusive Magazine Awards 2008, Blair is a classically-trained pianist, singer-songwriter who is on tour to support the release of his second album Things Left Unsaid. He is also co-owner of his own production company and co-president of the School Alliance of Student Songwriters in B.C.

The VJH Fundraising concert at Okanagan College takes place Sunday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12, available at CD Plus in the Village Green Mall and Bean to Cup. $3 from every ticket will be donated to the VJH Foundation.
- Vernon Morning Star

"Ryan Donn - This Life"

author: Charlie Hodge
CD Review by Charlie Hodge for B.C. Musicians Magazine This Life By Ryan Donn

I’ve been waiting for this CD for a while, and like fine wine (or the right partner) the wait was well worth it. Kelowna based singer/songwriter Ryan Donn’s hot of the press This Life is an outstanding CD, chalked full of terrific tunes. Hopefully Donn will not make us wait another three years for his next creation. Donn’s “sophomore” (third technically – but who’s counting) album contains 11 tunes (well, 12 actually if you wait for the hidden tune – but who’s counting).

It’s a splendid collection of emotionally driven tunes that expose his personal world to fans. Life boldly splattered on musical sheets. “I had to step back from it (playing in public) for a bit. Then I started writing again. It’s basically a collection of my life over the past couple of years, my recent marriage to Kimberly and now our child on the way. Life has been amazing,” beams the 30-year old transplanted Scot. Ryan came to Kelowna from Scotland as a young teenager, but never forgot his roots. His lineage is significantly reflected on the new CD. Two tunes on the album are lyrically Scot and intentionally challenge the listener to decipher and enjoy. This Life - indeed, when one sits back and listens to the album a few times the honest reflection of the artist’s life is evident. This is a beautiful album, a personal piece of work, and one that is destined to put Ryan on that national and international stage he so deserves.

There are two songs on this album which are truly brilliant, In This Life and Love Will Lead You Home as well as several more I rank superb. They boast fabulous vocals, versatility, tremendous musicianship, and inspired passionate lyrics. In This Life (title song and fourth on the play list) and Love Will Lead You Home are certainly the album’s best songs and will probably both be nominees for the annual Okanagan Musicians’ Award as Song of the Year. Donn wrote In This Life for Kimberly as their wedding song and one can safely bet it will play at many other weddings by fans in the future. It’s a classic. And it doesn’t hurt that Donn has a tremendous vocal range and style that enables him to deliver a duplicate of what’s in his head to the microphone. Vocally this is a masterpiece. Love Will Lead You Home again boasts Ryan’s phenomenal vocal range and control along with his musicianship. This is a powerful, moving, and meaningful song reflecting his work with (and love for) kids. This is Ryan Donn at his best. There for You is another superb song already getting plenty of air play. Some Donn fans already rank this as the album’s top tune. Nursery Rhyme is the witty, whimsical side of Ryan Donn This boppy but extremely cleaver tune was inspired by his work with children in schools. Ironically, Nursery Rhyme could be the ‘hook’ tune that winds up taking Donn to the places he deserves to go musically. I’ll Try Harder is another catchy and unique tune that grows on me the more I hear it. It was written to Kimberley on their first anniversary.

From the high energy opening tune Yeah, Yeah to the closer Love Will Leave You Home the album totally kicks. It features the musical skills of drummer Scott Gamble, Jason Morris on bass, Neville Bowman on piano, Eileen Rothe on piano and vocals, and Jamie Robins on lead guitar.

The album was masterfully record and mixed and co-produced by Bob Gablehouse at Big Audio Productions. B.C. musicians have been churning out some fabulous CD’s in the past couple of months, particularly Okanagan based groups. Without any doubt Ryan Donn’s This Life ranks among the best, if not the best so far. This Life is a truly superb CD. An absolute must have for your CD collection.
- BC Musician Magazine


2000 Daylight - full 11 song album
2003 Causewayend - full 11 song album
2005 When you dream - 5 song E.P
2007 This life - full 11 song album.

"There for you" the first single from "This Life" is currently in high rotation at a number of Okanagan soft rock Fm stations.



Quick Updates:
4singles - 4 songs on the radio waves!
"there for you" saw 26 weeks, "Something more" and "Yeah Yeah" currently being played.
Ryan Donn - 2008 BCIMA's Folk Artist of the Year

Ryan Donn has an enthusiasm for life that is infectious. Whether it’s his work as a Certified Education Assistant in the local School District, his dedication to the love of his life and his new baby, or his burgeoning career as a singer-songwriter, Donn’s passion is hard to miss.

Born in Scotland, and raised there, until his early teens, Donn began his flair for story telling early in life. Coming from a musically talented family, Donn started in choir at a very young age. However, it wasn’t until later in his teens, after he and his family had transplanted themselves in Canada and made Kelowna, B.C. their new home, that Donn really made friends with his musical side. He picked up the guitar and started experimenting with writing when he was in high school, and started performing in his early 20s.

When asked who has influenced him and to describe his own sound, Donn immediately responds with “I like to describe it as Coldplay meets the Barenaked Ladies….with a hint of John Mayer. My sound is heavily influenced by David Gray, Coldplay, Travis and U2.” The media has likened Donn’s sound to Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, with the story telling sense of Jim Croce. As an acoustic artist, Donn’s unique stylings in both his stage presence and the presentation of his music lend to a high energy, engaging show. A typical stage show will see the use of a tripod of guitars – quickly becoming Donn’s signature – as well as the energetic presence of a man who absolutely loves what he does.

Donn’s personal passion for what he does is infectious and audiences that have witnessed Donn’s shows go away with a sense of having witnessed something extraordinary.

Last year, in November 2007, Donn released his sophomore album, “this life”, a follow-up to 2003’s “Causewayend”. The first single off the 2007 album, “There For You,” was picked up by 25 radio stations across Canada and stayed on the airwaves for 26 weeks. Written for his wife, Kimberly, to mark their first anniversary. Speaking to the deepest desire to be safe in love while being a rock for the one you love, “There For You” is a song about commitment and support given, not taken. To date Donn has 4 of his songs seeing radio!

“I like my music to be thought provoking, and I also want my music to have a positive message to it,” Donn said. “I write my songs with emotion, and I think that appeals both to my fans and with social groups, since they want to make that emotional connection with people too.”

Perhaps that’s why so much of his Ryan’s music has been snapped up as signature songs for non-profit groups. It started with one of his early pieces, “When you Dream”, which became a sort of informal anthem for local Boys & Girls Clubs in the summer of 2002. Next up were the B.C. Disability Games, which used the song “Give it All” in 2003, and the local Terry Fox Run, which picked up “One Dream” in 2005. That same year, Donn co-wrote the city of Kelowna’s official Centennial song. More recently, the song “Love Will Lead You Home” was chosen by the Kelowna’s Gospel Mission as a signature fundraising song for an initiative called The 30K Club. The song “Cannyboy” was picked up by the Province of B.C. for an anti-racism project, Make a Case for Racism.
The title song, “In this life”, written just one month after Donn met his wife to be, has just been selected for the 2008 Music B.C. compilation CD. Basking in the first flushes of love, “In this life” promises to meet – if not surpass the success of “There For You,” now that it has been released as the second single off the album.

“this life”, the album, also gives a nod to Donn’s Scottish roots with two fun, up-tempo pieces written in his native Doric tongue – “Canny Boy” and “Scunnered.” Other songs, like “Yeah Yeah” and “Sunshine,” demonstrate Donn’s unique take on music – a blend of straight-ahead acoustic rock with a Brit pop twist. This album is definitely a showcase of Donn’s vocal range and ability.
“You throw it all into the mix and see what comes out,” Donn said of his approach to putting this album together.

But while thematically diverse, Donn has worked hard to keep his sound consistent, building on the success of “Causewayend” to take his music to the next level without losing the elements that made it so appealing to begin with.

As Donn continues expose the world to his talent, through to putting himself out there through his public appearances, in concerts, through record sales and radio air time, he’s finding more and more fans – across Canada and abroad – that are touched by the moving and genuine nature of his lyrics, as well as his catchy hooks and melodies. Having recently become a father for the first time, Donn has a stronger sense of purpose and promises many great stories to