Speaker, singer, songwriter, producer, and arranger, Donna King, was born and raised in the Motor City (Detroit). She is an AWARD winning producer, and a classically trained vocalist, with a golden ear for detail and nuance. In addition to her prowess as a performer, songwriter, and producer she has proven to be an excellent music industry strategist who works with many other artists via production, vocal training, live show coaching, promotion, and music marketing consultation. She has released "Song of Noel," her debut Christmas album. We are honored to be able to catch up with her for this exclusive Hallels' interview.
Hallels: Donna, thank you so much for your time. You and your husband Zane have written and produced many songs for many artists. Who have you been working with recently?
This past summer was the busiest ever for me! But, what a blessing to get to do what I love! Some of the Gospel music groups I've worked with recently are Mercy's Well, the Wiliamsons, the Greesons, the Lore Family, and Simeon's Promise. And when I could squeeze in a little time, I continued to work toward completing the debut Zane and Donna album (which is releasing later this month)!
Hallels: You have released a Christmas album "Song of Noel." Why did you decide to record a Christmas album?
I have always LOVED Christmas music! Honestly, if I could, I'd sing it and play it 12 months of the year.
I grew up in a very broken family. Many of those I love struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, abusive behaviors, and so on. When I was a little girl, Christmas was mostly surrounded by stress, drinking, and fighting. Then on Christmas Day, we talked more about Santa than Jesus. Me and my family never attended church (unless someone passed away). I don't blame anyone for that. I love my family... (most of which are gone now). We are all people in need of a Savior, living in a very broken world. That's why HE came...He made a way out of the darkness.
So, in 1982, just before Christmas, I came to know the LOVE of CHRIST and the hope HE offered to my broken-ness. I was 18 years old. From the moment I found His mercy and grace, my Christmases changed. When Christ became the light of my life, Christmas had real meaning and purpose. Every Christmas song about the Savior of the World rang, not just in my ears, but in my heart. Yes, I had been singing for years, but it was then that I realized that my life is a song and it should celebrate Jesus.
Hallels: On the album, you have a fair number of originals as well as Christmas favorites. Is it difficult to write Christmas songs? Where do you find your inspiration?
Writing Christmas songs can be a challenge. I think the reason for that is that there are so many GREAT ones, the last thing I would want to do is rewrite what's already been written with a slightly different melody or lyric. So, when writing for this album, I wanted more than I composed. I thought about my relationship with God, read and reread the Christmas story, pondered His goodness in my life, and imagined what Jesus did for all of us and how everyone felt in the moments before during and after his arrival. From those thoughts and whispered prayers, God began to move my heart and words just kind of leaped out, then melodies, and, before I knew it, a song was born.
Hallels: I love how you tell stories within your songs. They always give us a new personal perspective to Christmas. Do you have a song or two on the album that you want to tell our readers about?
From a songwriting perspective, each song has a "reason" so to speak. "Heaven Came To Earth," which is the current Contemporary single out to Christian radio this month, is inspired by the realization that GOD so beautifully and graciously chose the human route for us to know Him. His love is tangible. His love is accessible. He brought His love to us in one of the most beautiful deeply sacrificial ways... through a child, HIS child. And He showed us what love would do to make a way for us to reconcile our need for a Savior. We can't wonder if God loves us when we see the manger, the cross, and the empty grave. Christ died for every one of us. Christmas is for ALL of us. I'm so thankful it finally became real to my own heart in 1982.
Hallels: You and your husband are also working on another album that's coming out soon. Can you tell us what it will be like?
We are SO excited that our first full record as Zane and Donna (King) is near completion. The album, which will be entitled MILE MARKER ONE, will be released Thanksgiving week!!
What is it like? It is a 2 and a 1/2 year journey of our gratitude to GOD for His GOODNESS in our lives. It is a celebration of the happy times and the sad times...wrapped into 11 songs... YOU see, it's because we know both JOY and SORRY, that we can FULLY know who GOD is in the middle of it all.
My husband, Zane, is an incredibly talented musician and He plays and sings on the record. I sing, of course, but the funny thing is where Zane and I are from. He is born and bread in the South and I am as yankee as they come, born and raised in Michigan! So, stylistically, the album is like taking a ride through the country with a city girl sitting in the passenger seat! HA!
I might add that my husband's full-time job (and calling) is helping to release children from poverty in JESUS' name. He works with other artists to facilitate their efforts to share that message through a wonderful ministry, COMPASSION INTERNATIONAL. Some people may know that I used to travel with my daughter and son-in-law in music ministry. As Hope's Call, we were thrilled and honored to sponsor children through Compassion, (and we still do today), as well as to present that opportunity to our audiences. So, needless to say, Compassion is VERY important to both of us. With that, I will let you in on a surprise. Zane and I included a little extra on the album, that we actually sang in Spanish, in honor of our heart for the sweet children all over the world who live in extreme poverty and who are finding HOPE through COMPASSION.
We feel so grateful to get to share our music, but most of all, the love of the ONE who gave us the SONG, with the world!
Hallels: Speaking of Christmas, what does Christmas mean to you personally?
Christmas means LOVE and HOPE has come to earth and it has come to stay. And, that shimmering LIGHT of hope never burns out. Finally, I can live and laugh, and give and love, not just on that day, but always. My life and the lives of those I love can be experienced abundantly!
But, when He said abundantly, He didn't mean excessively. I think He'd rather we don't buy a single gift than to bring stress to our lives trying to GET our kids the biggest and best presents ever. I think He'd rather we celebrate the Savior holding hands than holding new things. Things don't last...but the LOVE of GOD is eternal and limitless. I think He'd rather we share food with the hungry than have the biggest Christmas feast ever. I think He's ok with Santa being a part of our holiday...as long as Santa isn't thought to the ONE who makes Christmas what it is meant to be. And, I don't think He feels that way because He wants the credit. I think He feels that way because He knows that, by knowing HIM, we will know Christmas every day, throughout every year.
Hallels: For our readers who would like yo purchase "Song of Noel" or/and find out more about you where can they go?
Thank you so much for asking, and, thank you for the opportunity to share with you and your readers. They can go to my website donnakingmusic.com or to zaneanddonnaking.com. The album is also available digitally, via iTunes, and other music download sites. Also, please go like our Facebook page HERE. And you can follow me on twitter at @letschooselove and Zane and I at @zaneanddonna.