When an artist reaches a global level of fame and takes the world by storm, all eyes are on them. They become icons and inspirations in their own right, opening the doors for a new wave of talent to emerge, and in many cases, tribute acts arise. These tributes take inspiration from the superstar, crafting their own interpretation of the artist and expressing themselves through unique performance and art. Donna Marie is a UK based Lady Gaga tribute and look-alike, and there's no one quite as accurate and breath taking in the tribute world as she is.
Currently a judge on BBC One's singing contest 'All Together Now', Marie is a multi-awarding, No.1 worldwide tribute artist who is bringing her national tour of 'A Star Is Born This Way' all around the UK, and we had the pleasure of interviewing her. The epic show is based on the global smash Oscar-winning film 'A Star Is Born', featuring hit songs like Shallow and Always Remember Us This Way. With an array of songs from the film on the setlist, Donna also includes a handpicked collection of Lady Gaga’s most memorable songs from her discography. Donna will be joined by her very own Bradley Cooper- Adam Kelbie, dancers and a live band.
Sitting on the bus, one miserable afternoon I saw a Facebook advert for a show: “A Star Is Born This Way”, and thought it was too good to be true. Firstly, because they stole my idea despite me not being able to convince anyone in a blonde wig and police tape. Secondly, I haven’t seen a tribute act and I have been very sceptical of them… until I typed in ‘Donna Marie Lady Gaga’ into YouTube. It was all about to change. The No.1 worldwide sensation has vocal belts that’ll leave you speechless, replica costumes and theatrics that prove she’s as free as her hair. She's even reproduced some of Gaga's most breathtaking performances such as the Paparazzi VMA performance from 2009 where fake blood poured from her heart and she was left hanging by a rope. The multi-award-winning impersonator currently takes to the screen as a judge on the BBC One singing contest ‘All Together Now’ and brings a different Gaga look every week without fail. The consecutive winner of the national tribute music awards even got the approval of the very Lady herself who said: “My god you look just like me, you are amazing!” You may say she’s not flawless, but I know she’s got a diamond heart. And I should know because I called her on my telephone. T-T-T-Telephone. If you’re not spotting the hidden song titles, then you may need to reconsider your taste in music.
Donna and I decided the best way to talk would be a live interview on Facebook, which was great, once we surpassed the technical difficulties. You can watch the video interview, which will be linked here and on our socials. I started off by asking how long she has been Lady Gaga for and she replied: "Obviously I'm not the real Lady Gaga!" which sent us both into a giggle. Donna Marie has been a Lady Gaga Tribute act for 9 years which is the most-part of Lady Gaga's career, which started after seeing another tribute act do a Lady Gaga set and she realised that she could pull it off, and make it better. When Lady Gaga announced her upcoming studio album she used a tweet to refute pregnancy rumours by revealing she's "pregnant with #LG6" so I asked Donna how 'A Star Is Born This Way', her upcoming tour merging 'A Star Is Born' with Gaga hits, was conceived. As soon as Donna found out Mother Monster was cast as Ally and since she was a fan of the previous A Star Is Born Films, an idea for a show was born. She waited for its release in October 2018 to see if it would be successful and what the music was like, Donna says "even though I knew it was, but obviously you just never know". All the time up until the release she had the idea for a massive show, so when the soundtrack came out, she started work. Donna's especially excited for this show because she gets to perform Ally's songs from A Star Is Born, songs which are unlikely to ever be performed live by Gaga herself, so she sees it as an honour to be able to do that. She also recognises how difficult the songs are to perform compared to some of Gaga's other hits, and it is clear that the challenge only makes her want to perform them more. The first half of the show will be set up as if you are watching a Jackson Maine and Ally concert with the characters performing their show live in front of you, she guesses there are only about one or two songs from the whole soundtrack that won't be performed. With a second-half jammed with Lady Gaga's classic and new hits. Adam Kelbie who is playing Bradley Cooper is a fellow judge on BBC One's 'All Together Now', he messaged her one day asking to do a cover of Shallow together on a karaoke app, and they had so many hits that they decided it was meant to be! They've started rehearsing, videos will be shared on social media (links at the bottom of this interview) and Donna is finishing casting her dancers this week. She says: "it's all crazy at the minute, but it's going to be great!"
Donna on LG6: "If Lady Gaga releases a new album before the tour, I'd be mad not to [perform any new songs]! There are rumours about a release next week but who knows. It would drive me mad not to be able to sing something off of her new album or her single release."
I asked if there were any surprises she can tell me about regarding the show, she says yes, but they are going to announce a big surprise soon- "something really cool they're doing with the show," so watch our social media pages. We'll be sure to share any news. Lady Gaga won an Oscar for 'A Star Is Born', and despite having the other aspects of Lady Gaga mastered and ready to perform, the closest Donna has come to a movie star are roles in school productions. "I'm nowhere near Lady Gaga's calibre of acting, it'd be pretty cool to be in a movie though!"
Donna not only sounds and performs like Lady Gaga - she has over 60 costumes and tries to keep up with all of her appearances and there's so many with special significance to her that she can't possibly choose a favourite. In terms of props, her favourite is the iconic 'spark bra'. If you are unsure, think flamethrower bikini! She had to be advised of how to use it, so she doesn't burn her hair off, get sparks in her eyes or set fire to her audience, her husband has done a pyrotechnic course so they can use fire and effects in the shows. I asked if she's ever worn her costumes out and about and she laughed, "not as myself, I'd have really lost the plot then, but I have for events and meet and greet sessions- obviously, I'm working then". On her career highlights, in the nine years of performing as Gaga, she has a few but one is her first theatre show which she produced and directed herself, and it was rewarding to know all of the work she had put in entertained thousands of people. The biggest highlight has to be meeting Lady Gaga, for any tribute to meet the person they're impersonating and be told you're "amazing" is really something special. She got to spend half an hour chatting to Mother Monster and spoke about music, the press and her personal life.
Donna knows what it's like to be on the judging panel of 'All Together Now', but could she face the judges herself?
"To stand on the stage in front of us judges must be pretty scary but I'd love to know what it's like. I don't know how I'd do- they'd probably tell me that I sound too much like Lady Gaga. What would be interesting is to go to 'All Together Now' in a different country and apply there!"
One very particular judge, Paulus, rarely stands up for acts- so I asked if he'd stand up for her: "Oh, he better," she exclaimed raising her fists. She says she never changes her mind on supporting or not supporting an act while filming, but when Donna watches it edited on TV, she sometimes questions her decision. "You know you're giving away £50,000 so you have to be very careful, it's hard because the 100 are all fellow performers, so we all know what it's like to be judged and how it feels. We're so passionate about getting it right."
If Donna could make a song with Lady Gaga, it would be about two people battling through their life struggles who are alike but not the same. Drawing on the aspect of her own career as being like Lady Gaga. I think they should make it, actually- I have it on the record that it's going to be a duet on LG6. Only kidding! If Donna could do a show as herself she'd do something similar to the format of 'A Star Is Born This Way' with a stripped back first half and invite many of her friends that are getting started to come on and do duets to help them along. The second half would be full of not just original songs but covers that would get everybody partying and up on their feet. "I love a party. If everyone is with me dancing and singing, that's my type of show"- she says if the audience doesn't get on their feet in her upcoming tour, she'll "go down and get them dancing!"
In Lady Gaga's Las Vegas residency, for her Enigma show, she uncovers the truths in her career and tells a musical story of self-discovery. I asked Donna what her enigma would be: "my enigma would be organised chaos! That's my life. Anyone who's seen my office or anything will know that they won't find anything, but I know exactly where everything is". She knows what she's doing even if no one else does.
Now for a challenge! If we get 25,000 views on Facebook, here and YouTube combined, Donna will release an exclusive cover video of Lady Gaga's single 'The Cure'. I'll also be doing a challenge that'll be decided by Donna when we reach 25k!
Please share and take a look at social media links and tour dates below.
'A Star Is Born This Way' is touring arenas, theatres and events nationally, in the UK, from August 2019. Get your tickets below for a venue near you to experience a live Ally and Jackson concert experience followed by a full Lady Gaga set- more dates and venues are to be released, so follow us on social media for updates. Tickets are on sale now!
03/08/19 - The Edge Festival, Solva
17/08/19 - B.E.C. Arena, Manchester
30/08/19 - Bath Forum
12/09/19 - Stockport Plaza
13/09/19 - Hull City Hall
11/10/19 - Princes Theatre, Clacton-On-Sea
25/10/19 - FLY DSA Arena, Sheffield
01/11/19 - Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
17/11/19 - M & S Bank Arena, Liverpool
Check the Website and Socials for Other Dates.
Facebook - www.facebook.com/DonnaMarie.LadyGagaTribute/
Twitter - @DonnaMarieGaga
Instagram - @donnamariegaga
Website - www.donnamarie.net (Bookings and More Info)
A Star Is Born This Way:
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AStarIsBornThisWay/
Twitter - @AStarIsBornThi1
Instagram - @astarisbornthiswaytour
Website - www.astarisbornthisway.com (Tickets for the Arena Tour)
A Star Is Born This Way Mailing List - https://www.astarisbornthisway.com/mailinglist
Facebook - www.facebook.com/josephholmeswriter/
Twitter - @joeholmeswriter
Instagram - @joeholmes2002
Website - www.josephholmeswriter.com
Follow me for more fun, blogs, interviews and hopefully more Gaga content!
Don't forget to share this interview so that Donna & I do our challenges.