MEET THE BAND: Donnie Lynee (vocals)
AN EARLY BLOOMER: Lynee, who grew up in Glenville, started singing when she was 4. Back then, she used to sing Aretha Franklin's "Respect" at family gatherings. "They'd be playing all the soul songs over the weekend," she says. "They would tell the kids to sing. I just knew Aretha, so I would belt out the lyrics to 'Respect.' I sang at the top of my lungs and they would throw money on the table." Lynee then went to Karamu House in 2015 and worked on the musical Leap of Faith. She describes it as a pivotal moment. "Some of the lines in the musical were about following your dreams, and I realized I really wanted to do that." She then produced an EP in 2017 and released her second EP last year.
GETTING OUT-OF-TOWN GIGS: This month, she'll perform in Los Angeles, and she'll then head to London in May. She'll perform in downtown L.A. for a Sunday Funday event. "In London, we're still pinning down the details for the venues," she says. Though she frequently travels to out-of-town gigs, she regularly plays locally and has performed at Stella's Music Club, the Bop Stop, House of Blues and the Beachland.
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR HER: With its percolating synthesizers and rattling percussion, "Starting Over" comes off as a contemporary soul/R&B song you might hear on commercial radio alongside the likes of Bruno Mars and Beyonce. Lynee wrote the song after ending a long-term relationship. She worked with Grammy nominees (and Cleveland natives) Jayshawn Champion, who has written for Usher and Toni Braxton, and Bennie Wond3r, who's produced tracks for Cardi B and Meek Mill. Lynee has known Wond3r since high school, and she met Champion, who wrote the song, through the local music scene. "It was so wonderful working with them," she says. "I feel like they are two of the most talented writers and producers I know. Bennie is on top of the music. He keeps up with the latest and best sounds, and Jayshawn has written for everyone."
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HER: donnielynee.com.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE HER: Donnie Lynee will perform as part of Third Fridays at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18, at the 78th Studio Studios.