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Denise Donatelli: Songbird With A Grammy Nomination

Marcia Hillman By
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AAJ: Describe the Grammy experience—particularly when you were notified about the nomination.

DD: I was in my car driving to meet some musician friends for dinner when I got a text message from Geoffrey saying that he had been nominated for his arrangement of "Don't Explain." I was so excited and thrilled that our CD was recognized, and couldn't have been happier—I thought. At the restaurant we were toasting our success as well as the nomination of Bill Cunliffe (also a member of our dinner party) when I got another text from Geoffrey telling me that When Lights Are Low was nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album. I've been in a state of shock every since. A Grammy nomination is a dream fulfilled. To be recognized by your peers is the most prodigious honor one can receive.

AAJ: What was the Grammy experience like in regard to the choice of dress, makeup and hair styling?

DD: In a word, amazing! One of the most exciting experiences of the Grammy nomination was that I was contacted by a PR firm for designer Sherri Hill, who offered to dress me for the Grammy Awards. Sherri has dressed celebrity artists such as Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride.

When I got to the studio/loft in Hollywood to meet Sherri and try on her dresses, I met actress Eliza Dushku, who was also there doing a photo shoot in Sherri's dresses with Rick Fox, former L.A. Lakers' star. I felt like a princess trying on Sherri's gorgeous designs and also having a photo shoot in her gowns. I walked out of the studio with the first dress I tried on; a very simple yet sophisticated black gown. I must have made the right choice because a couple of days after the Grammy Awards, I received a Google alert with a link to MSN Entertainment's "Most Stylish on the Red Carpet" list. To my surprise, I made the list along with 11 celebrities including Nicole Kidman, Eva Longoria, Kathy Griffin and Kim Kardashian!

AAJ: What was the Grammy Awards weekend like for you?

DD: My whirlwind Grammy week began with a trip to New York, for a performance at the Time Warner Center on Friday night. Coca-Cola was sponsoring an event to promote New York's Fall Fashion Week, and I felt honored to have been chosen to perform on the Style Lounge stage. I was also asked to perform at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola for the night of Valentine's Day, which happened to be the night after the Grammy Awards. I was so excited about the performances and looked forward to doing them but there was the issue of the Grammy nominee reception the night after the Coca-Cola performance, and the Grammy Awards the night before my Valentine's gig.

What to do? I couldn't miss the opportunity to attend the Grammy nominee party and the Awards. Who knows if this will ever happen again? As I said before, to be nominated by your peers is the greatest honor and my being a Grammy nominee is a dream fulfilled. So, I flew back to L.A. in time for the reception on Saturday night and took a red-eye flight back to NYC after the Grammys on Sunday night. Four flights in four days. Thank goodness for Skymiles!

AAJ: Tell me about the Grammy Nominee reception. I understand the nominees get a little jewelry.

DD: The Grammy Nominee reception was a lot of fun, and I got to hang with my friends, fellow nominees Bill Cunliffe and Lorraine Feather. I also got to meet Gregory Porter, who was also nominated in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category. It was a beautiful affair, and every nominee received a medal reminiscent of the Olympic medal made by Tiffany.

AAJ: Now that When Lights Are Low has been out for a while, how much longer will you be working it? Or are you already thinking about your next CD? If so, what direction will that take?

DD: I'm looking forward to recording again this year. I have a few ideas for the next project. All I can say is that it will be different than When Lights Are Low, but just as groovy.

AAJ: What is your career mission for the next year, besides riding on the wave of being a Grammy nominee?

DD: In addition to working on another recording project, I look forward to performing and bringing our music to audiences across the country and, hopefully, abroad.

Selected Discography

Denise Donatelli, When Light Are Low (Savant Records, 2010)

Denise Donatelli, What Lies Within (Savant Records, 2008)

Denise Donatelli, In The Company Of Friends (Jazzed Media, 2005)

Photo Credit

Mikel Healey

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