As a teenager, Donna launched into learning Led Zeppelin and Guns N’ Roses songs on her brother’s acoustic. With an innate love for the searing electric guitar tones of artists like Jimmy Page, Slash and Eric Clapton, it wasn’t long before Donna bought her first electric guitar and began emulating solos and riffs played by her guitar heroes. At 17, she was selected as a semi-finalist in the North American Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Competition. Donna performed the blues classic “Red House” to a capacity crowd that included Al Hendrix (Jimi’s father) at a rock bar in Cleveland, Ohio. This was her first public performance.
After studying Jazz at McGill University in Montreal, Donna moved to Toronto and immersed herself in the music scene as a session musician and live performer. In these roles, she has worked with a diverse roster of talented Canadian acts, including Juno award-winning artists Amanda Marshall, Kardinal Offishall, Divine Brown, Haydain Neal and Kellylee Evans. Donna has toured globally with performances in Singapore, Australia, the UK, and throughout Europe, Canada and the United States. She was a part of Ruf Records’ Blues Caravan Tour in 2010 joining Coco Montoya, Shakura S’Aida and Meena. She continues to perform regularly with Shakura S’Aida (2011 Maple Blues Vocalist of the Year), soul-rock songstress Saidah Baba Talibah (described as Living Color meets Erykah Badu), and Hill & The Sky Heros (an alien surf rock group). Donna is also the guitarist and musical director of the annual Women’s Blues Revue at Massey Hall.
Now, as leader of her own group, Donna aims to push the boundaries of her live performance; in the spirit of experimental jam bands, each show is musically unique.
She describes the group’s approach to improvisation as “creating music in the moment, reacting to each other on stage, exploring musical themes for extended lengths of time, and utilizing effects pedals to broaden the tonal pallet of the music. The creative intention is to be free and continuously challenge each other on stage. Hopefully in doing so, we can create an experience for listeners and take the audience on a musically engaging journey.”
“The full impact of Grantis is her live performance: the interaction with other musicians on stage, the improvisational wizardry, and the sheer passion that can be felt… The natural high on-stage spread to the audience, with folks alternating between being completely spellbound and shaking their heads in amazement.” – Sticky Magazine
“Grantis alternately echoes whisper-to-a-scream blues snippets of Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton before exploring feels from metal to jazz.” – Abstract Logix
The Donna Grantis Electric Band is a psychedelic fusion trio fronted by Canadian guitarist Donna Grantis. Featuring drummer Roger Travassos and bassist Steve Zsirai, the group’s debut album, titled Suites, is now available worldwide through iTunes and donnagrantis.com. Inspired by artists ranging from Bill Frisell to Billy Cobham and Jeff Beck to Jimi Hendrix, the album is a concept record featuring two suites of original instrumental music named after Donna’s beloved PRS guitars: Elektra and Starla.
“I love jazz, but I’m a rocker at heart,” says the young Canadian guitarist. “Suites is a combination of both worlds. The songs have a jazz sensibility with a rock n’ roll edge. My roots are in Electric Blues and you can definitely hear that influence on the record as well.”