Donna Lewis: Standing The Test of Time

There are artists whose melodies carve themselves into the collective consciousness, their lyrics weaving stories that resonate across ages. One artist to pay attention to is Donna Lewis, her voice beacons with emotion and her songs echo love and resilience.

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of her iconic hit “I Love You, Always Forever,” Donna Lewis planned on revisiting the milestones of her career. However, fate had a different narrative in store for her. A routine medical checkup, delayed by the pandemic’s shadow, delivered news that shattered her plans—breast cancer.

Yet, from adversity blooms artistry. In collaboration with renowned electronic artist and producer Holmes Ives, Donna forged an album titled “Rooms With A View.” Documenting her year-long battle with cancer, the album transcends mere notes and lyrics; it becomes a testament to human resilience.

Donna and Holmes worked completely remotely as they both painted their emotions onto this body of work. From opposite ends of the creative spectrum, they intertwined visions, crafting melodies that mirrored Donna’s journey—from the stark diagnosis to the hopeful dawn of recovery. What began as a modest project burgeoned into a full-fledged album.

Through her journey, Donna has become more than a singer; she’s a symbol of strength and advocacy. As an ambassador for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, she channels her experience into a force for change, offering solace and inspiration to those crossing similar paths.

In an era fraught with challenges, Donna Lewis’s music serves as a reminder—that even amidst darkness, beauty can emerge. In an interview with Noctis, we consciously chat about how her melodies resonate, triumph over adversity, and mirror the indomitable spirit of the human heart.

Your journey through breast cancer is truly inspiring. Can you tell us how this challenging experience influenced the creation of your upcoming album ‘Rooms With A View’? 

Having a cancer diagnosis is quite overwhelming so throughout my journey I kept a journal of how I was feeling every day, my thoughts, spending time in a hospital environment etc….I didn’t intend on making a record about it but the music inspired me and the lyrics just flooded out resulting in each song becoming a chapter of the journey. 

We know ‘Rooms With A View’ is a collaboration with Holmes Ives. How did the two of you connect, and what was it like working on this project together, especially given the remote nature of the collaboration? 

I first met Holmes when he remixed my song ’I Told You So’ from my acoustic EP. I  loved it! As I started my cancer journey (which he didn’t know about at the time)  he sent me some instrumental tracks to see if I wanted to collaborate on any of them that inspired me. As I was listening to this one cool dark soundscape I  started writing about Cancer being the messenger, an invited, unexpected messenger and that became our first song. Reading through my journals opened the floodgates of my lyrics. I would send him vocal stems and he would add to the track, and we would decide if we needed more layers or rearrange the song. We just kept sending files back and forth. 

Your lyrics in the album seem to reflect different chapters of your experience. Can you share a bit about the process of translating your personal journey into music and the stories behind the lyrics? 

You’re right. I feel each song is a chapter of my journey. 

The more music Holmes sent me the tracks just became the perfect backdrop for these chapters. I just let my thoughts during that period of my life become the lyrics of each song. Each hospital visit was in a different room each time The view  from each room became my focus as I was having treatment, triggering different  thoughts and emotions that’s why I titled the album ‘Rooms with a View’ 

‘I Love You, Always Forever’ marked its 25th Anniversary, and you had plans for a celebration before your medical check-up. How did you feel when those plans had to be put on hold, and how did you navigate that unexpected shift?

We were going to do a tour to celebrate the 25 years but Covid came along and then when we thought we could pick up where we left off I was diagnosed with  Breast Cancer and was told I needed to take a year to complete my treatment. It was a shock at the time but once I started the process I just accepted this was what I had to do and writing and creating music became my therapy. 

Your expressive vocal prowess shines through in every song. How did you approach conveying the emotional depth of your journey through your vocals in ‘Rooms With A View’? 

Thank you! I just let my emotions lead the way. There were so many interesting layers in Holmes’s tracks it was a perfect sound for me to create my own layers of vocals to create the mood for each room. 

We hear you’ve become an ambassador for Making Strides Against  Breast Cancer. How did this partnership come about, and what are your goals in supporting this important cause? 

I think for all of us who have experienced breast cancer we just want to spread awareness about this disease and support others in any way we can. I know that being able to talk to women who had already gone through this was huge! When we finished recording the songs we were introduced to the Making Strides organization through one of my doctors. Music has the amazing power of bringing people together and giving us an experience of being less alone. Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is the same. I hope the music will give some comfort to those going through difficult times. 

Throughout your treatment and recovery, you continued to write and record.  How did the creative process play a role in your healing, and what message do you hope listeners take away from the album? 

In the beginning, I spent so much time educating myself on the disease, that it became overwhelming and I could see how Cancer can take over your life being able to write and create music during that time made me feel like me again and switched the focus away from Cancer. It was my therapy! 

Looking ahead, what are your plans for the future, both musically and in terms of your advocacy for breast cancer awareness? Are there any exciting projects on the horizon? 

I try not to look too far ahead. I just lost my amazing father so family is everything right now but we are in the middle of making a short film which includes the music from the album. I’m excited about that and looking forward to live performances spreading awareness.

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Interview by Izabel Rose