A MEDITATIVE MASTERPIECE: Donna De Lory Debuts New Album and Video, Gone Beyond

  • September 28, 2021
A MEDITATIVE MASTERPIECE: Donna De Lory Debuts New Album and Video, Gone Beyond

        The voice of Donna De Lory is like a gift from the heavens—expansive in its range and beauty. It has ignited dancefloor hits and blended in exquisite harmony with iconic pop singers like Madonna, Carly Simon and Bette Midler. Nearly infinite in its shadings, that same voice has enraptured the yoga music community with groundbreaking mantra albums like The Lover & the Beloved, Sanctuary and The Unchanging.

         But no previous recording has captured the full spectrum of Donna’s remarkable voice like her new album, Gone Beyond. Recorded in pandemic lockdown in the artist’s home studio, it is a masterpiece of meditative serenity.  Layer upon layer of gorgeous gossamer vocals swell and fade like the rising and falling of the breath, guiding us to a quiet place in the heart…a place of stillness and light. Gone Beyond is a beautiful companion for sitting peacefully in meditation. But De Lory’s vision for the album embraces the myriad life situations in which meditative focus is both a comfort and guide.

         “I wanted to make a record that would be good for so many different experiences,” she says. “Yoga class, standing on top of a mountain, sacred ceremonies, healing….”

         Faced with the fears and uncertainties of pandemic isolation, Donna found solace in her voice—her constant companion from even before she began singing professionally at age eight. Recording vocal tracks in her home studio became a daily practice for her, a type of meditation in its own right. And while singers typically layer their voices over an instrumental backing, Donna decided to take a different approach for Gone Beyond—basing the music in the spontaneous truth of her daily vocal improvisations, jettisoning time signatures, click tracks, chord charts and all the usual apparatus of music production.  

“It was just stream of consciousness,” she says. “I wanted something textural. I was just hearing whatever notes came to me and creating different chords with my voice. I went in every day and put on more and more vocals. I enjoyed laying down some vocals when I was in a certain mood or my voice was in a certain place. And I came in another time and laid down more. My vocals have different sounds to them because it was done over a period of time.”

         The effect is truly glorious—like vast choirs singing in cavernous cathedrals and majestic canyons. As the tracks coalesced incandescently, the earthy, plaintive sounds of Donna’s harmonium and piano entered the sonic picture. She also began involving some of her key musical collaborators, including bassist Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, John Lennon), percussionist Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel, Stevie Nicks), cellist Jami Sieber, guitarists James Harrah (Huey Lewis) Gerry Leonard (David Bowie) and Greg Leisz (k.d. lang, Beck, Eric Clapton) and mixmaster Kevin Killen (Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Suzanne Vega). Singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur is the only other vocalist on the album, lending his voice to the track “Gone Beyond.”

         Sacred mantras and heartfelt lyrical themes began to emerge spontaneously as Donna built sparkling edifices of layered vocals. “I always have these mantras coming to me that I felt inspired to sing,” she says. Part of the English translation of the Buddhist mantra “Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Soha” (Gone Beyond to a Further Shore) provided the album’s title, Gone Beyond. The image is one of transcendence, moving from worldly delusion to spiritual enlightenment, sometimes expressed in terms of a boat crossing water, from the shores of sorrow to realms of bliss.

         “I love the imagery of that boat ride which takes you to the other side of consciousness, to enlightenment,” Donna notes. “And I thought, music is that boat ride. I can always put music on and feel joy, peace and ultimate gratitude for this life. Making this album was ultimately healing for me, and I hope it’s healing for other people too.”

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