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Donna Lewis

Donna Lewis

A classically trained pianist blessed with a breathy, cherubic voice, Welsh pop artist Donna Lewis is best known for her 1996 hit "I Love You Always Forever." Showcased on her debut album, Now in a Minute, the track was a Top 40 success and garnered her global attention. While the song remains her calling card, Lewis has continued to expand her approach, exploring electronic textures on 2008's In the Pink and collaborating with the Bad Plus on the jazzy 2015 covers album Brand New Day. Still, lyrical pop craftsmanship is at the core of her sound, as on the 2021 EP Told You So.

Born in Cardiff in 1973, Lewis first gained musical inspiration from her father, a jazz pianist. Starting at age six, she took piano lessons, and by her teens was composing her own pop songs. After high school, Lewis earned her music degree from the Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she majored in classical composition for piano and flute. Upon graduating, she spent a year teaching music in Sussex, after which she moved to Birmingham to hone her skills, playing solo piano shows and with local bar bands. By 1990, Lewis had developed a loyal fan base and begun recording demos of her songs in her home studio. A demo of "I Love You Always Forever" caught the ear of Atlantic Records chairman Doug Morris, who purportedly flew Lewis to New York for an audition and quickly signed her to the label.

In 1996, she released her debut album, Now in a Minute, which featured production from Kevin Killen (David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Shawn Colvin) and included the single "I Love You Always Forever." An infectious, buoyant production reminiscent of the poppier end of Kate Bush's sound, the track was a breakthrough hit for Lewis, staying at the number two spot on Billboard's Hot 100 chart for nine consecutive weeks and ultimately reaching platinum status. The song's popularity was a boon to Lewis, who next appeared as herself on an episode of the FOX television drama Beverly Hills, 90210, and dueted with Richard Marx on the song "At the Beginning" for the soundtrack to the 1997 animated film Anastasia.

Lewis returned in 1998 with her sophomore album, the Killen-produced Blue Planet. While the record was well-received, generating the number one Billboard dance chart single "Love Him," as well as the lesser European chart hit "I Could Be the One," it failed to match the outsized success of Now in a Minute, and Lewis eventually parted ways with Atlantic. Switching gears, she collaborated with guitarist/producer David Torn on the electronica EP Chute, and moved to a more stripped-down acoustic sound for her third album, 2002's independently produced Be Still.

Over the next several years, Lewis stayed busy writing and recording material for her follow-up, a process that was put on hold for two years when she gave birth to her daughter. In 2008, she released her fourth album, In the Pink, which found her returning to the lush, electronic-tinged pop of her debut.

In 2015, Lewis delivered the jazz-inflected covers album Brand New Day, which featured her vocals backed by iconoclastic trio the Bad Plus. Along with stripped-down interpretations of songs by David Bowie, Chocolate Genius, and others, the album also included the new composition "Sleep" and a reworking of "I Love You Always Forever." A non-album track, "Summertime," arrived in August 2020 and was followed in February 2021 by Told You So, an intimate five-song EP. ~ Matt Collar

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