A longtime resident of the Bay Area, Roberta Donnay has been a singer and percussionist with the iconic band Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks since 2005. Her own band, The Prohibition Mob Band, is well known out west and tours frequently.
GG: You've been making movies in San Francisco, how'd you get into music? Roberta Donnay: I started singing on stage at age 5, then writing poetry, then writing songs. I studied music day and night, listening to the radio and to great singers like Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. I taught myself to sing off the radio. And then I was given a guitar to borrow and learned guitar, and later, small percussion instruments. The guitarist who loaned me his guitar put me in his band when I was 16. I've been playing ever since..
GG: Congrats on releasing 'What's A Girl To Do?', who are some of your influences? RD: Thank you! What's A Girl To Do is a promotional film for my new Motema Music recording titled "Bathtub Gin" (Release date January 20, 2015). We love this film/video! As far as acting is concerned, Mae West, Betty Boop, Jennifer Tilly, and Woody Allen are probably my biggest influences. Also there's Rocky and Bullwinkle.. In music it's all about Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Sippie Wallace, Ida Cox, Ethel Waters, Josephine Baker, Nina Simone, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Ella ....
GG: What are some of your proudest moments in music? RD: Right now is it! (I try to live in the present moment). I'm proud every day to be a musician. I love the musicians around me, being in the studio. writing. performing. All of it is great, just great, no complaints. I'm thrilled to be able to dive into the history of American Roots music, jazz and swing, bringing obscure and often buried, beautiful songs to light. Performing live is my greatest joy and ambition. I'm thrilled to think I may be playing some small role in helping to preserve the history of jazz, especially women in jazz, and pay my "debt of gratitude" to our musical ancestors... A song I wrote,"One World", became a theme for the United Nations for their 50th anniversary, UN50, celebration and is being sung by children on 5 continents around the world to bring about an awareness of World Peace. I was used for World Aids Day. This is probably my greatest experience and accomplishment with my music to date.
GG: What cool stuff is on the horizon for Roberta Donnay & the Prohibition Mob Band? RD: Everything we do is Jake! (that's slang for "cool" in the 1920s). We're running a contest right now with our Indiegogo project called "Prohibition Mob Band Wants To Tour" where we're asking fans to tell us which cities they'd like us to visit so we can plan accordingly. In January, we're swingin' a bi-coastal tour to celebrate the release of the new CD "Bathtub Gin" with shows in New York and the Bay Area, presenting a workshop at NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA and more CA tours after. In the spring we're planning an east coast tour. For summer 2015 we plan to be in Pacific Northwest and then heading east to start another Route 66 Tour, through the midwest and Southwest. After that.... ? Well, more recording and touring and fun! Hoping to bring our tour overseas by 2016. In between all these things I will be on the road with Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks as I have been for the last 9 years...
Gentleman Genius Magazine: Roberta Donnay & the Prohibition Mob Band