Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Donna Herula
Donna Herula is a Chicago-born blues singer, songwriter, and slide guitarist that has a passion for playing traditional Delta and Country Blues, early Chicago Blues, folk, Americana, and roots music. Using electrified resonator guitars, her sound combines her love for the music of the Deep South and Chicago with her love of blues guitar improvisation. Her songwriting tips the hat to the tradition while creating fresh, contemporary perspectives on blues and roots music.
Donna was born and raised on the northwest side of Chicago, in the Portage Park neighborhood. She began playing piano and writing songs at the age of 5 and guitar at the age of 10. In high school, she wrote an original song, “Mid-Term Blues,” that she arranged for her high school jazz band and performed at her high school variety show. She also played lead guitar in an all-girls band, No Men Momentum. Donna received a music scholarship from her high school and studied voice, jazz guitar and, later, classical guitar in college.
Donna was inspired to learn slide guitar after attending a live performance by electric blues resonator player, Eric Sardinas, and upon hearing the song, “Death Letter Blues,” by Son House. She has been inspired by other slide guitarists including Rory Block, Johnny Winter, Fred McDowell, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Booker White, Furry Lewis, RL Burnside, Elmore James, Robert Nighthawk, Honeyboy Edwards, Tamp Red, and Johnny Shines.
Donna was also influenced by women blues singers and guitar players, such as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Sippie Wallace, Memphis Minnie, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bonnie Raitt, and two of her teachers, Maria Muldaur and Rory Block. She also drew inspiration from the songwriting of Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams, and Willie Nelson.
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