Donna Ulisse: A Song to Lean On

Donna Ulisse
I’ve been a fan of Donna Ulisse since I first heard her 2007 CD When I Look Back. Since then she’s released five new CDs and a gospel compilation.

Donna and her husband, Rick Stanley, tour with their band The Poor Mountain Boys and have made friends with audiences from St. Petersburg, Russia, to St. Petersburg, Florida. They put on a great stage show–even if it’s pouring rain and the audience is desperately trying to stay dry scattered around the campground under tents–as I witnessed at the 2011 Podunk Festival (East Hartford, CT).

She’s also written hit bluegrass songs for the likes of Del McCoury, Claire Lynch, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, and many others.

In some ways, you could say that she’s on to phases three and four of her career. In the 1980s, she moved to Nashville from the Hampton, Virginia, area. She worked as a demo singer, sang in churches, sang in a variety of bands working in Tennessee and Virginia, and even sang in a western swing band. In phase two (Country Diva), she signed a deal with Atlantic Records, leading to the 1991 release Trouble at the Door. As she describes in this interview, phase three was beginning to work on song-writing, doing a lot of work for the Hadley Music Group, which led to phase four: singing and performing her music with the Poor Mountain Boys.

If you don’t already know Donna and her music, you’ll really enjoy meeting her in this interview. Her discussion of making the transition from country diva to song-writer is particularly insightful. And you’ll hear how gracious she is.

The version of the interview linked below includes material we couldn’t fit into the 30-minute “radio edit.” Most interesting to me, the online version includes her comments about presenting online shows, the first of which she tried in November 2013. And you’ll meet the canine members of the Stanley-Ulisse family: Molly and Tenbrooks.

The Interview

Donna Ulisse (Recorded 1/20/14; original broadcast date: 1/4/14; host: Mandorichard). 38:49, 37.3 MB. This version of the interview contains excerpts of two songs heard in full on the WVUD broadcast, but includes an extra song and more conversation than appeared in the 30-minute radio broadcast.

Donna Ulisse and the Poor Mountain Boys

Donna Ulisse and the Poor Mountain Boys (husband Rick Stanley, guitar, next to Donna)

The Music

The following music is heard in this episode of The Music Room:

  • Artist / Song / Album (or note) / Label (or source) / Date / Notes
  • Donna Ulisse / Out of Sight, Out of Mind / Trouble at the Door / Atlantic / 1991 / EXCERPT IN PODCAST
  • The Del McCoury Band / Butler Brothers / Streets of Baltimore / McCoury Music / 2013 / EXCERPT IN PODCAST
  • Donna Ulisse / Shady Glen / An Easy Climb / Hadley Music Group / 2011
  • Donna Ulisse / You Cannot Stay Here / All the Way to Bethlehem / Hadley Music Group / 2012
  • Donna Ulisse / Caney Creek to Canaan Land / Holy Waters / Hadley Music Group / 2010 / EXTRA SONG INCLUDED IN PODCAST
  • Donna Ulisse / I’ve Always Had a Song I Could Lean On / Showin’ My Roots / Hadley Music Group / 2013