Introspective, profound, socially aware, and often (self-)ironic at the same time, Italian singer/songwriter Cristina Donà established herself as an artist with a strong personality -- and, in many ways, an original one, too, in terms of both music and lyrics.
She's a unique talent who's been able to create around herself a relatively vast following of fans, and also get extremely positive feedback abroad. To put it simple and straight: along with Carmen Consoli, she's the most important female musician to emerge from Italy in the second half of the '90s.
Born in Rho, in the outskirts of Milan, on September 23, 1967, Donà (real name: Cristina Trombini) decided to start making music when she was 17, inspired by the records of Bruce Springsteen. In the meantime, she studied art and worked as a set designer for theatrical works and videos (one of them being Litfiba's "Gioconda"). At the end of the '80s she started making concerts in the clubs of the Milan area both alone and with her own band, called Lullematt, playing cover versions of songs by the likes of the Waterboys, Neil Young, and U2. An opening slot with Afterhours in 1991 was the beginning of an important friendship and collaboration with their leader, Manuel Agnelli, who would produce her first two albums.
In 1995 Donà was one of the finalists of Livorno's contest Premio Ciampi, and in 1996 her song "Terra Blu" -- included in the various-artists CD Matrilineare -- created a certain curiosity around her name among music fans and critics. Her debut album, Tregua (1997), was a well-crafted collection of songs, a perfect balance between rock electricity and acoustic nuances, with lyrics both intense and poetic. Considered by many as one of the most interesting Italian records of that year, eventually it would win the important Targa Tenco prize as the best debut album. In 1998 Donà took part in The Different You: Robert Wyatt e Noi, a tribute CD dedicated to the erstwhile Soft Machine drummer, who would be the most important guest on the following year's Nido (in the song "Goccia," subsequently released as a single), the record that confirmed Donà's talent in making ends such as pain, tension, love, and sweetness meet and mold into heartfelt and touching ballads.
In 2000 Donà published the book Appena Sotto le Nuvole, a collection of poems and short stories, followed in 2003 by the travel log God Less America, co-written with journalist Michele Monina. Meanwhile, in 2001 she played at the Wyatt-curated Meltdown Festival in London, where she met Cousteau's Davey Ray Moor, who would be the producer of 2003's Dove Sei Tu. Thanks also to a remix of the single "Triathlon" by Subsonica, the record sold pretty well and considerably widened Donà's audience. In 2004 she guested on Telepathy, the debut of Moor's new project, Stellar Ray, and released Cristina Donà, her first record sung in English, including the Dove Sei Tu songs translated with the help of husband Davide Sapienza and Moor. Distributed in 33 countries by Rykodisc, the album received excellent reviews, the most important a four-star rating by Mojo. In 2005 the music magazine Il Mucchio Extra released a live acoustic CD recorded in 2002 with Manuel Agnelli and Marco Parente. Having moved from Italian indie label Mescal to Virgin, in 2007 Donà released the more polished La Quinta Stagione. She then entered London's Abbey Road Studios in order to record a new album including acoustic renditions of some of her most famous songs. ~ Aurelio Pasini, Rovi