Sample from the Fall 2005 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine
An Interview with Donna De Lory
Donna De Lory is known for her pop music and beautiful backup vocals for artists like Jewel and Enrique Iglesias. She is probably most well-known for touring with Madonna as one of her two singing/dancing stage companions for over a decade. Last year she made her foray into the spiritual music scene with the release of her CD, “The Lover and The Beloved”–a blending of celestial music, her ethereal voice and Sanskrit mantras. Donna discusses the evolution of her music and her life on tour with Madonna.
Integral Yoga Magazine: When did you become interested in Yoga?
Donna De Lory: Ever since I was a little girl I have been drawn to things from India–the music, the Sanskrit words. When I was 17, I started to do some Yoga. I remember watching Joseph Campbell on television years ago. He was so inspired by Sanskrit. He said, “Satchidananda” and how it was a huge word. I remember saying, “Wow, what is that word? Truth-knowledge-bliss.” I have read some of Swami Satchidananda’s books and now I want to go deeper into his teachings and see where they lead me.
IYM: How did you go from Madonna and pop music to “The Lover and the Beloved”?
DDL: It was a gradual evolution. I was singing in churches and Yoga centers about six years ago and I was saying: “Ganapati Om” and other mantras. I was also playing pop music and dance music and then someone said I should play harmonium with my band. I had no idea what a harmonium was and then a friend gave me one to borrow. For a year I had it. Things just started happening like that. I started writing my songs on it and it started influencing me more. Without going to India or knowing how to play it, but by just sitting down and learning it, that became my meditation. It was incredible and I decided to immerse myself in this.
One day I was rehearsing with a band and I started singing mantras over the music and no one knew what I was doing but it all came together. I feel that the mantras are these sacred words for all of us and now I’m getting deeper and deeper into them. They’ve helped me realize what music is to me–it is my spirit. What do I have to do to be in my bliss? Just sing. I don’t have to be a star, be beautiful, be loved, be like Madonna. Wow! Thank God I found this, I found my soul. I just need to sing. I am just opening myself up to what I am going to sing, what my voice is going to translate.
IYM: Speaking of Madonna, what is it like touring with her?
DDL: In the beginning, it was fun touring the world with her and trying to be a star and hanging with celebrities. It was a blast to travel and dance and see the world from that perspective. We’d perform and later go to clubs and parties. But after doing that for a few years it has evolved. Now, when I have time off during the tours, I spend time with my family and singing mantras at Yoga centers. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to travel, to show my daughter the world, to be a part of Madonna’s vision, and also to share my own music with others. Madonna is older than me and she has been a great influence and a mirror. I’m watching her go into being a family person and having to juggle career and family. I was seeing her do it and wondering if I could do it, now that I have a daughter. So I asked her if striving for that level of success is worth all the hard work that she has put in. She said, as she usually does, “You need to ask yourself that. I’m just a mirror. You have to ask your own soul. Is this the life I want?”
IYM: What about her spiritual practices? Have you learned about Kabbalah?…
Read the rest of this article in the Fall 2005 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine.