Singer-songwriter, guitarist, music producer, music consultant, grant writer, music mentor and guitar teacher.
He was born in Madagascar, raised and educated in the USSR (Russia), speaks Malagasy, Russian, French, and English. From touring as a backup singer for Ace of Base, to a stint as the first black VJ on MTV Russia, DonneÌ has led a prolific and varied artistic life since he left his home country as a boy. He first came to wider recognition in his adopted home of Canada with the release of his albums: Rhythm Was Born, Internation, Onward & collaboration with African Guitar Summit, Okavango African Orchestra, Amanda Martinez, Sultans of String and more. His success led to CBC Radio asking DonneÌ Roberts to compose the theme song for their popular morning show Fresh Air, which still runs today
Donne Roberts is a guitarist who hails from Madagascar,
His Malagasy Soul approach starts with Malagasy’s salegy, then blends Central African bass lines and Stevie Ray Vaughn guitar strokes into a unique pop-friendly blend.
“Malahelo” starts with a near-bossa melody before breaking into a gentle but pulsating acoustic guitar driven soukous groove.
“Mahareza” is about as low down as it gets on this disc — none of the tunes on Rhythm Was Born are furiously funky, but their versatile arrangements ensure they don’t descend into cloying and bland world beat.
Jonny Dovercourt - Wavelength Music Series
A lot of people missed Donne Roberts’ Wavelength debut last May, and that was too bad, since the guitarist and his band took us all to school.
It’s easy to forget how much indie rock undervalues, well, musicianship until you hear a band that can really play.
But it’s not just about technicality, Roberts’ “Malagasy soul” music fluidly fuses folk, funk, blues and rock into irresistibly danceable forms that reflect his roots in Madagascar, Russia and Canada.
Also a member of the African Guitar Summit, Donné is very likely the only Wavelength alumnus to have performed at Live 8.
And won a Juno. Okay, we get it, this guy is good.
Andrew Craig - CBC/Radio Canada
Donné Roberts is a passionate performer. When he hits the stage he carries with him an energy that immediately exhilarates the crowd - even if they've never heard his music before.
Donné performs mainly in Malagasy his mother tongue from his birthplace of Madagascar.
Yet this never proves to be a barrier to the audience, providing living proof that music truly does transcend language.
Michael Clifton, a music writer.
“Donné has a knack for cracking the code; for taking two completely disparate art forms and bringing them together somehow.
He can bridge the sensibilities of African and blues music very effectively. He makes the innate connection between North American Black music and African, as well.” But it’s more than that.
He goes on: “I’ve worked in many different aspects of the music business. I can tell looking at a guitarist when it’s all about them or what they can show off with.
But with Donné, there’s no fanfare, no attitude. It’s all about the music”
Paul Lamoureux - Producer, Musical Director, and Saxophonist.
The real beauty of Donné’s music is that you don’t have to know anything about music to enjoy it.
The grooves are so buoyant, the harmonies so approachable, and the messages so universal that all you have to do is close your eyes and let yourself be moved.
Madagascars Slim a multiple Juno Award winning guitarist .
Referring to him as an immense talent who “breathes” the music, Madagascar Slim points to his unique and proficient finger picking guitar style and the intricacy of his playing.
“He’s got the Malagasitude,” Slim tells me. “Mala what?” I ask. “Malagasitude,” he declares cheerfully. “I just made that up. He’s got that Malagasy groove.”
“There is never a dull moment working with Donné,” he tells me. “He’s a melting pot of ideas, rhythm and influences. He’s very gifted; always re-inventing himself.
Give him any good, funky groove – rock, funk, jazz, soukous, salegy – and he’s there. Once he latches on to it, he’s tighter than a bull’s ass in fly time! He can go on for hours.”
Julian Fauth a Juno Award winning blues piano player.
Donné also really knows how to tell a story with the guitar. Julian says that even in rehearsal Donné is never just noodling around.
“You hear in his solos the progression, the building of tension, the climax – all the elements of a good story. He has a superb imagination.”
“He’s an original,” Julian tells me. “He’s capable of inventing music on the spot that sounds like he’s been laboring on for years.
He can catch any groove and make something new out of it.”