Earlier this year Donn Thompson Morelli released her sophomore album, Flight Of The Donn T. It had been 5 years since her DJ Simbad-produced Kaleidoscopic and since then she’s married, started her own label and launched a DJ career to add to her resume. Music is a DNA thing for her as she is a member of Philadelphia’s Thompson family responsible for The Dixie Hummingbirds, Lee Andrews And The Hearts and her brother Questlove of The Tonight Show band and The Roots fame. As a singer-songwriter she delves into complex feelings with poetic language whether she’s writing about world concerns or personal travails. She has had her songs to appear in Ava DuVernay’s I Will Follow and Lifetime’s With This Ring. Her video for “Waiting” is one of the year’s best for its minimalist use of her face and black and white cinematography to convey profound emotions. In the following interview she discusses the source of her maverick R&B expression, Philadelphia, family and future works.
We all get to a place in life where we’re not sure how to step forward or what’s going to occur but we just step
You come from a musical family what was it like growing up with musicians for parents?
The atmosphere was pretty lively all the time. And when I say all the time it literally was 24 hours a day sonically it was rich definitely. It was really inspirational and it really put me in touch pretty early on with the fact that I was a creator and I was connected to something special. It’s creativity and you’re working in that process and you’re dealing with other challenges growing up and I notice as an adult that that background helped me with other things by showing me reslilence, which is where I am with Flight Of The Donn T.
When did you discover your creativity and voice?
I don’t remember a moment where like I was one thing and something shifted I always identified with being a writer and a storyteller. I identified with the writing aspect probably more than other members of my family. We’re all writers and create music from that place. I identified with words and so that was my entry way into the rhythm, the sound and all that. I would notice as a kid if I would read the stories or recite poetry to my parents or friends of the family, they were really impacted. I just recently did a remix of my song “Last Breath” and I needed to listen to the original and there’s an additional chorus and my husband and I newly wed, I call it newly wed but we’ve been married for three years and he brought to the marriage a beautiful little girl, she’s very creative, my daughter and she actually collaborated with us on a chorus. If you listen to the remix there’s something additional there and so I say all that to say as a kid it was a very familiar space to have my thoughts and have my lyrics considered by my parents who were veterans in the business and I had that approach but I passed that on and there was a line or two changed and uncle Amir was very impressed.