Donna E. Scott
By Kabir Sehgal
Donna E. Scott’s Carnival is a soaring and searing journey into the universal celebration of emotions. The prelude to Lent, Carnival is a spiritual time for reevaluating life, and beginning anew, as gray winter turns to colorful spring. This album, like Carnival, is an invocation of a deeper sense of thought and emotion, drama, and happiness in the listener. Just as Scott evokes the full breadth and spectrum of human emotion, the album encompasses a plethora of genres and traditions – from Brazilian, to swing, to the blues, to pop. “During Carnival, the blues gets a Ph.D. in the full spectrum of human emotions,” explains Scott. Listen to this album in full and you will hear a full range of every sentiment and sensation.
Donna E. Scott is a versatile, sultry, mezzo jazz singer whose work encompasses jazz standards, torch songs, blues, classics, popular dance hits, R&B, gospel, neo soul, and even country. A popular contestant in the 2014 Sarah Vaughan International Vocal competition, she has performed as a featured soloist in big bands, Latin jazz combos, R&B revues, and gospel shows throughout the United States and Africa. She has also performed with the late Joe Sample, N’Dugu Chancellor, Nestor Torres, Jewell Brown, John Faddis, Andre Heyward, and others. Scott is a grand collaborator: so many have been attracted to her soulful voice and powerful creative visions.
As Scott’s second album, Carnival is a journey through the artist’s emotional and musical transformation through the Lenten season. The album opens with the vibrant and lively title track, Carnival, which evokes the celebratory mood of the holiday. There is something for everyone in this track: rumbling and syncopated percussion, floating piano, thick bass, and Scott’s evocative voice. On this track we experience it all: love, joy, infatuation, anticipation.
From here we arrive at Pennies From Heaven, which brings a message of hope despite disappointing circumstances, and a sense of seeing the glass as half full. In this swing tune, the artist asks that we stay open to the possibilities of wonderful and beautiful things to come. For the uninitiated, it’s a welcome surprise that Scott’s songs double as philosophical meditations on some of the most important emotions that we experience.
The third track It’s Your Smile is a soulful tune that reminds the listener of that special someone’s smile, and gives us a sense of warmth, safety, and familiarity. Next is I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance, a wistfully beautiful jazz ballad that touches upon unrequited love. We’re transported into a sassy, uptempo I Don’t Want You Anymore, and we’re overcome with a sense of liberation from an undesirable situation. A Tie That Binds is a celebration for a steadfast belief in love’s power; On Green Dolphin Street is a jazzy number that reminds us of our young and earnest loves. The final song After The Sunset is a ballad that conveys durable and everlasting love.
The Lenten period is indeed an introspective time: we sacrifice the good of today, for the great of forever. And now we have a soundtrack for this period: Carnival is a recalibration after experiencing great loss. Scott’s collaboration with Brad Chapman, Horace Alexander Young, and musicians from the Joe Sample Big Band proved to be a healing and cathartic experience. Arranger Mr. Young says: “This session, this project is healing these musicians because we are coming together locally and globally.”
This album is a beautiful display of artistic camaraderie, collaboration, and commitment with a shared creative vision. Ms. Scott’s Carnival is a breathtaking celebration which displays a full range of human emotions. What range! You’ll need a tissue to wipe away the tears of sorrow and joy!
New York Times bestselling author
Multi-GRAMMY & Latin GRAMMY Award winning producer