Bio

My earliest exposure to music is very clear in my mind.  I remember sitting in my grandparents’ basement at a few years old watching my uncle, Ed Violette, and his band Carouselrehearsing “December 63 (Oh What A Night)”.  I would play air guitar on one of his tennis racquets and pretend like I was the lead singer.  As I grew older, my mom would always ask me to sing for our house guests as she accompanied on piano.  The songs of choice were usually “You Light Up My Life” by Debbie Boone or “I Write The Songs” by Barry Manilow.  I can’t believe I just actually put that in writing!

When I hit the middle school years, I was dying to learn an instrument, and since guitar lessons were not part of the curriculum, I decided to go with the saxophone.  I truly loved it, and fortunately, it came very easy to me.  I played in every band the school offered, but my favorite was always Stage Band because we got to play “cool” songs like “Eye of the Tiger”  (at least it was cool back then).  I could not wait to audition for jazz band at Somerset High as the school was renowned for its music program.  Jazz was the music of choice for me in the beginning because I loved to improvise, but as time went on, I just wanted to be a rock star.   As I admired musicians like Mark Knopfler, Eddie Van Halen, and Stevie Ray Vaughan there was only one instrument for me: I sold the saxophone and bought an electric guitar.

GuitarGreats

Mark Knopfler (left), Eddie Van Halen (middle), Stevie Ray Vaughn (right)

My uncle taught me a lot in the beginning, and the rest I learned myself. Even to this day, most of my playing is strictly by ear where I really do not know the notes and chords I’m playing.  I admired many styles of guitar that I molded into my own approach, and I consider myself a ‘decent’ guitarist. But as I continued to play there was one instrument that really would prove to be my forte:  my voice.  There were two vocalists that influenced me the most along the way.  These two gentlemen were not only amazing vocalists, they were also amazing human beings with traits unlike the traditional ‘rock star.’  Brad Delp from the popular classic rock band Boston, and Michael Sweet of the Christian metal band Stryper.

Brad

Michael Sweet and his band had the guts to sing about Jesus while hammering out metal guitar leads with a driving force and an impeccable melody.  Brad Delp had that ‘golden voice’ and was known as one of the nicest guys in rock and roll, humble and grateful until his early and untimely death in 2007.   Tom Scholtz and Delp created a sound that earned them one of the highest selling debut rock albums in history that most people have in their collection.  Delp and Sweet had those soaring vocals with high screaming notes that I just loved to emulate.  That’s the way I wanted to sing, and to this day, their influence gave me the ability to sing a wide variety of music that I’ve been told many struggle to accomplish.  Even the popular Paul and Al of 94 WHJY in Providence were kind enough to call me “one of the best vocalists they’ve ever heard.”

During my college years at Bryant University, my uncle Ed approached me about exchanging my electric guitar for an acoustic and learning material by artists such as James Taylor, CSN, and the like.  Thank God I listened to him because as the acoustic duo, Back-2-Back, we went on to play taverns and colleges throughout New England compiling a large following of local fans who loved to hear us play.  We created two albums of original material along the way which I continued to promote after our duo ran its course, and I decided to make a run at taking the material to a greater level outside of New England.  Without the influence of my Uncle Ed, I never would have taken my skills to a professioanal level, and I am forever grateful for his musical contributions and friendship.

uncle_ed
Donnie Wilson (left), Uncle Ed (right)

I’m extremely proud of some milestones that I hit along the way in the 90’s.  From playing the role of Christ in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ to performing live with the great Jimmy Buffett at the Comcast Center it appeared like I had a chance of getting somewhere beyond Somerset, MA.    After releasing my full length CD titled, “Lather, Rinse, Repeat” in 1997 which was a combination of my own material and music Ed and I created, I received plenty of great ‘local’ feedback, however, very little interest from record labels.  One reality became more and more apparent as I pushed forward:  I was a pop singer in a grunge world, and the timing was awful for my kind of music.  I really could have used American Idol, Facebook, and YouTube back then!  I dabbled for a few years after that, and eventually gave up playing music full time and became a Mortgage Advisor (see day job for more details).

So, some 13 years later, here I am at 40 years old, finally getting back into my music. A successful career, a wonderful marriage, and three beautiful children later, people wonder what I’m all about these days. Most important: God, family, friends, health, happiness… but what about my music? It’s all so clear to me now…

My mission with my music is now defined by the birth of my son Jacob in 2009 when he was born with CHD (a Congenital Heart Defect). This life changing event inspired the single, “Super Hero Fantasy” that is being acclaimed by many as the anthem for CHD awareness, especially in the world of heart families. All profits from the sale of this single go to research for CHD through Children’s Hospital Boston and other related CHD charities. My album title and band name, SEDATED ECHO, is derived from the term, ‘sedated echocardiogram’, which is a test that almost all CHD babies need on a regular basis. Whether I’m performing solo, as a duo, or as a full rock band, I will always use the name SEDATED ECHO, and it will always mark my desire to help others who are following the same path as Jacob.

My new album was recorded with guitarist, engineer, and producer, Alex Krepkikh. Alex is an amazing local talent transplanted from Russia, and he made me sound better than I ever imagined. I brought my songs to the table written on my acoustic guitar, and Alex and I would build them into the full band versions heard on the CD. Bassist, Joe Calise, and drummers, Vinny Pagano and Roland Audette, round out the line up of seasoned music professionals with whom I am lucky to be associated, as they are all great guys, and incredibly talented. I would call SEDATED ECHO inspirational, fun, acoustic guitar-driven pop rock, with soaring vocals and layers of electric guitars and harmonies. How’s that?

Also, Boston is still out there and imagine this… Michael Sweet is one of the lead singers! Who knows, maybe the planets will align and I will finally be the lead singer of Boston carrying on the legacy that Brad created singing side by side with the great Michael Sweet. That’s was always my “dream gig!” If not, I have donniewilson.com to share all that I know and all that I am with the people who want to listen.

One thing is for sure: wherever my music takes me, I will ALWAYS have the mission of spreading awareness and raising research dollars for CHD!! Thank you to my son Jacob, my daughters, Delaney and Jocelyn, and my wife, Jayna for continuing to support my music.

My parents (my biggest fans) always told me to be humble about my talent, and that you’re only as good as the people who want to listen to you. If you want to listen, I’m ready to play.

Thank you, and enjoy!

signature_dark

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.