With a beautiful voice and an ability to write haunting, melodic, and literate songs, Michigan's Kitty Donohoe is a true treasure.
Born outside Detroit in Royal Oak, Donohoe started piano lessons at five, picking up the guitar as a teenager, which quickly fueled her innate songwriting ability. Following high school, she lived in Nova Scotia for a time, and her exposure there to the traditional maritime music reminded her of the Irish traditional tunes she grew up with, and when she returned to Detroit, she settled in the Cork Town area (known for its Celtic community) and begin to soak up its music. She moved to the central part of Michigan in the '70s, got married and had children, but continued her writing and performing, finally releasing the sublime Farmer in Florida on her own Roheen Records label in 1986. Highlighted by the beautiful and moving title song, the album (produced by Joel Mabus
) showed Donohoe's gift for grafting uncluttered, memorable melodies to intelligent lyrics, and the ability to bring them home with her soaring, haunting voice. Following a book and tape project with artist Pasqua Cekola Warstler called Bunyan and Banjoes, which featured mostly Michigan-themed songs and stories, Donohoe released a second album of original material, As Sparks Fly Upward, in 1992. Later in the decade she joined an energetic Irish band called Pub Domain, which generated a tremendous following for their live shows; they finally released a single album, Sin Sceal Eilé, on the Dancing Goat label in 2000. Donohoe moved to Ann Arbor, MI, in 2001. When the tragedy of September 11 occurred, she wrote the heartbreaking "There Are No Words," which delicately deals with the emotional wreckage of coming to terms with missing loved ones while conveying a sort of desperate, unsaid hope of a better world in the future. The song was released as a single-song CD in October, 2001, the same month as her third album on Roheen, This Road Tonight. A rare songwriter with tremendous range and an ability to project complicated emotions in simple, literate, and memorable melodies, not to mention her ability to merge instinctive pop sensibilities with a solidly traditional base, Donohoe deserves a wider audience. She continues to explore her Irish roots, and has been performing as part of Triu, a Celtic trio specializing in traditional material. ~ Steve Leggett, Rovi