Just as Donna Angelle's career as a zydeco musician was taking off with nightly gigs that kept her hopping between her home state of Louisiana and Alabama, New Mexico, Texas, and back again, she suffered a long period of downtime thanks to a serious auto crash. The multi-instrumentalist, who was born in St. Martin Parish as Donna Charles, had already begun making a name for herself as a bass player. Her choice of instrument was considered unusual for the leader of a zydeco band, as was her gender, since a bandleader in the genre would normally be a male accordionist. When she finally bounced back from the accident, the determined bandleader put out a few recordings and opened for acts that included Beau Jocque, Denise LaSalle, Latimore, and Chubby Carrier.
Angelle's love of music made itself known early in life. When she was eight years old on Cypress Island, her parents started to encourage her budding musical talent. In seventh grade in the town of Breaux Bridge, Angelle became a member of her school's band. With her music teacher's guidance, during this time she studied the flute, viola, saxophone, and clarinet. In addition to her teacher's encouragement, she also found inspiration in the recordings of artists such as Gladys Knight and Curtis Mayfield. Television's American Bandstand and Soul Train provided further influence. Upon her 1970 high school graduation, Angelle found work as a keyboardist with Bobby Price, for whom she also contributed vocals. She went on to join Cosmic Sky, a local Louisiana band, within 12 months.
With a desire to lead her own musical outfit, Angelle established a band that she dubbed Chapter IV, a name derived from a Bible verse. When a series of bassists didn't work out, she took up the instrument herself to avoid similar problems in the future. Thanks to her ability to play the instrument, she also worked with Archie Bell and Barbara Lynn. Then the accident occurred and sidetracked her until 1994, when she pulled together a new band that concentrated heavily on a blend of zydeco, hip-hop, and soulful, classic oldies. Bad Weather Productions' Mike Lachney signed her to a deal within months. Lachney is the producer behind such zydeco acts as Rosie Ledet, Lady T, John Delafose, and Pee Wee & the Boll Weevils. The following year, Angelle's Zydeco Soul, her first recording, was issued in cassette form. In 1997, she hooked up with Maison de Soul, a label run by Floyd Soileau. The following year, the company released her Old Man's Sweetheart CD, which also features her backing band, the Zydeco Posse. Down the Bayou followed, with Angelle departing from bass on a few numbers to switch to the accordion. ~ Linda Seida, Rovi