Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Donna Beasley: Biography

I have been a door-to-door evangelist; an AIDS worker. A Magna cum Laude graduate; trailer trash. A magician’s assistant; a maid. I’ve been on Prozac. I’ve had whiplash. I’ve rappelled face-forward from 35 feet. My high school was inside a Baptist Church that preached it was a sin to go to movies, listen to rock and roll music, and wear pants if you’re a woman. I had a graduating class of three. I attended every Sunday morning/Sunday night worship service, every Wednesday night prayer meeting, every Saturday morning visitation, every weeklong revival service. Rebellion came in the form of a pair of jeans and a Doobie Brothers album I purchased at age 17. 

My dad worked in the same textile factory 36 years where the penalty for showing up drunk to work was the loss of two fingers. My mom’s a heck of a guitar player. I come from Dolly Parton’s hometown in East Tennessee. But I don’t own no theme park.

The first time I ever sang in public was in a 6th grade beauty pageant. I sang “When Will I Be Loved” as my teacher played autoharp. I won a talent trophy. I sang the Lord’s music. I played a Thursday night gig in the “moonshine capital of the world” where people carry knives in their boots and will kill you deader than four o’clock if you happen upon their marijuana stash. It took the right combination of oppression, heartache, depressive episodes, and suicidal ideations before I began writing songs at age 30. I pawned some old wedding rings to buy my first guitar. 

“Under the Rushes” is my second collection of what I like to call “Appalachian Fusion Music.” There are 11 songs, eight I wrote and three I co-wrote with my producer/guitarist/husband, Tom Spaulding. There are guest performances by some of my East Nashville neighbors: Americana artist Elizabeth Cook, roots rocker Tim Carroll, and Chuck Mead of BR-549 fame.

The idea for the title track came when I was a teenager. I heard of news stories involving young girls and secret pregnancies, something about shame and fear, and trashcans and school lockers as repositories for the ill conceived. For some it was hard to fathom. I understood. 

I also write the occasional happy pop song and something you can cut a rug to. But true to my heritage, the optimism is always cautious, the satisfaction suspicious. While I am guilty of trying to get above my raising, some things, I have found, are not so easily left behind. It gets heavy, carrying a mountain on your back. I guess that’s a fitting title for the last track of the record. 

For those familiar with my first offering, “Good Samaritan” (2007), I would describe “Under The Rushes” as less introspective, the themes, perhaps, a little more universal. It seems there’s something inclusionary feeling about living in a dwelling without wheels. 

And I’m a little less worried about strong winds.

Bless your heart for listening to my ditties and stories. I hope you enjoy them.