Donna Herula is a Chicago born singer and slide guitar player that plays country, Delta and modern blues styles. With a percussive guitar style and soulful voice, Donna plays fingerstyle as well as blues slide guitar on her resonator guitars, including a 1930’s National Steel Triolian and National Steel Tricone
In her solo and duo acoustic performances, Donna plays a mix of songs from the early blues women, including Memphis Minnie, Ma Rainey, and Bessie Smith and the early Delta blues men, including Robert Johnson, Robert Nighthawk, Furry Lewis, Blind Blake, and Muddy Waters. She also performs music from more recent blues and slide players including Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Lucinda Williams.
Donna was a semifinalist in the 2012 Yamaha Six String Theory international guitar competition. She placed in the top 6 of the blues guitarist category among contestants from 58 countries.
Donna won the Chicago Blues Challenge, solo/duo category two years in a row; in 2010 with harpist John Jochem and in 2011 with singer/songwriter, Liz Mandeville; and with Liz, also placed in the semi-finals at the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. In addition, Donna won the Illinois Central Blues Clubs blues challenge as a solo performer and competed in the IBCs in 2009.
An accomplished slide guitarist, Donna performed a tribute to slide guitar master Robert Nighthawk at the 2009 Chicago Blues Festival for his centennial celebration. She also performed as part of a Nighthawk symposium for the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, AR.
Donna has played at a number of other blues festivals including the King Biscuit Blues Festival (a.k.a. Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival), The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival (Davenport, Iowa), the Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth, MN, Blues by the Bay in East Tawas, Michigan, Alpena Blues Festival (Michigan) and the Mother’s Best Music Festival in Helena, Arkansas.
Donna’s second CD “The Moon Is Rising: Songs of Robert Nighthawk” was released in February 2011 and in September 2011, placed #32 on the Roots Music Report for top Blues albums played on the radio. It includes songs from early in Robert Nighthawk’s career — when he was known as Robert Lee McCoy/McCollum — as well as songs that influenced him. Her CD was selected to represent the Illinois Central Blues Club in the Best Self-Produced CD Competition at the 2012 IBC. The song, “Crying Won’t Help You” was listed as song #13 on James “Skyy Dobro” Walker’s Top 50 Songs of 2011.
In October 2011, Donna was nominated for the “Best Female Blues Performer” by the Chicago Black Music Awards.
She has been on a number of blues radio shows including five times on King Biscuit Time, with Sonny Payne, legendary host and member of the blues hall of fame, on Delta Sounds with host Terry Buckalew, both on www.KFFA.com radio in Helena; GLT Blues Next in central Illinois, WNUR in Evanston, IL and KUAF Radio in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Donna plays as a soloist as well as in a duet with her husband singer/guitarist, Tony Nardiello. (See website page “Duet with Tony” for more information.)