HER*STORY: Donna Frost
There are those who will dismiss you because you are a woman. But I never let that get in my way. I was determined to become my own person, reliant on no one to do what I do.
Donna Frost / Singer-Songwriter / Age 58 / Hendersonville, Tennessee
Donna Frost was born into a family gospel group and hit the road with them at two weeks old. She decided she wanted to be a performer at age six after witnessing the Beatles phenomenon on the Ed Sullivan Show and she has been a full-time touring artist for the past 23 years.
I sold Christmas cards at the age of nine to make my own money to buy a piano. My aunt gave me my first guitar. Later on, when I was older, she paid for me to go to Belmont University to study music. She also bought my brother and I a van and an equipment trailer for us to tour in when we were older with our rock band.
Donna was influenced by all kinds of artists in every genre but became attached to one in particular–one of the first women to achieve major success as a solo artist in the country music industry. Skeeter Davis’ hit single, The End of the World, is still a favorite today and I can definitely hear her influence in Donna’s music.
As a child, my first hero was the late Skeeter Davis, who was my idol and became my mentor when I was an adult. I sang with her the last eight years of her life in the 1990’s – early 2000’s.
Donna also found steadfast support from her mother–the “rock” of her family–and her aunt, Mary Lynch Jarvis.
(Jarvis) was a pioneer…for women who worked in the industry. She was Chet Atkins’ right hand at RCA for 20 years and blazed a trail for women in the music industry.
Being a woman in the music industry is certainly difficult. There’s the Good Old Boys club; there were the occasional dominating males I worked with in some of the bands who tried to push me around…I’m very independent. Now it’s the ageism thing sometimes. But, overall, I’m very blessed. I’m busier now than I’ve ever been with my music, and, as I said…I’m self-reliant. I perform and tour by myself most times. I book the gigs, I drive, I roadie, I play and sing, I do everything for myself. And I like it that way. My experiences with my bandmates through the years have been great overall, especially the bands I have played in with my brother and with my good friends. I’m fortunate.
How do you define success?
To me, success is loving what you do, doing what you love, and I see myself as successful because I have been doing this since I was a teenager. I have been a full-time touring artist since 1993 and I have had so many rich experiences, so many wonderful people in my life that are my friends…friends I would not have had were it not for my music.
Back when I was younger, I was like everyone else. I thought a major label deal and becoming a big star was what I wanted. It didn’t happen that way. And the older I got, the more my priorities and expectations changed. I have learned there’s more to life.
I also am involved in several programs that help others through music. In addition to my shows as an artist, I play several shows each month for Music for Seniors, which brings music to the elderly (some of them are Alzheimer and dementia patients). I am an ambassador for Ukulele Kids Club, which places ukuleles in hospitals for sick kids. Prior to that I was with Musicians On Call for five years (We brought live music to hospitals and hospices.) and Songs of Love for five years (writing and producing songs for terminally ill children).
Being able to give back with my music is very important to me. That means more than any record deal or fame and fortune. I am quite happy with my life. I’m thankful that I’m so busy at age 58 and still able to go do my thing!
A couple of years ago, life threw Donna a curve-ball and it turned out to be the beginning of a new chapter in her music.
I’m currently promoting my 5th CD and first all original Ukulele music album, Ukeabilly Mama, which came about when I was recovering from my accident (broken arm) and surgery two years ago. I had to cancel six weeks of shows but I was playing my Ukulele, writing music and rehearsing. When the accident happened, the doctors said I would not be able to perform for 6-8 months but I proved them wrong. The Ukulele saved my life and gave me a cool new angle to my career. It has opened some new doors and set me on an amazing journey.
What are you working on next? Is there something you’d still like to see happen in your career?
I’m always writing new songs and hope to get in the studio to record my 6th CD in the months ahead. I’ve written close to 300 songs and have only recorded about 60 of them. I am currently writing my first book, Guitars, Ukes and Sequin Boots-My Life in Song, which I’ve been working on for a couple of years and hope to have out soon as well. Something I would love to see happen would be having some of my songs placed in films and TV shows. That is what I would like most!
Which actress would play you in the movie of your life?
Bette Davis or Diane Keaton.
You can hear Donna’s music, check tour dates and more on her page at REVERBNATION.