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Music Review: Donna Loren – Donna Does Elvis In Hawaii (EP)

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Donna Loren’s music and acting pedigree reaches back to the 1960s. From her early days as the spokesperson for Dr. Pepper to her singing performances in many of the Beach Party movies to her becoming a regular on the Shindig! television series, she established herself as a female teen idol.

When her singing career began to run its course, she appeared in such shows as Batman, The Monkees, The Red Skelton Show, Gomer Pyle, Dr. Kildare, and Hollywood Squares.

In 1968 she married Lenny Waronker, the president of Warner Brothers Records. She then retired to raise a family. Despite not being active, she continued to record in the studio, and luckily saved the material. She recently released Magic-The 80’s Collection, which is made up of those recordings. Who knows what else she has tucked away, but when you are married to the president of a record company, studio time probably is available.

A divorce and second marriage later found her in Hawaii as a fashion designer with her own line of clothing and the owner of three boutiques.

During 2009 she decided to return to the mainland to re-start her singing career, releasing her first album of new material a year later with Love It Away. She has recently released a four-song EP that is her tribute to both Elvis Presley and Hawaii.

Donna Loren has always had just about a perfect pop voice and it remains intact on Donna Does Elvis in Hawaii. My only complaint is I wish she would have expanded it into a complete album, but since that did not happen we have to be content with this small slice of pop Elvis covers.

Just before leaving Hawaii, she recorded “Loving You” and “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear.” Both are unique interpretations as they have a Hawaiian feel to them. “Loving You” features Sonny Lim and Wailau Ryder on slack key and ukulele. “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” includes Grammy winner Charles Brotman on ukulele. Loren’s voice floats above the mix in these two very satisfying performances.

She also includes her recent single, “Merry Christmas Baby,” which was an Elvis holiday classic. She reaches back to her aforementioned ’80’s stash for a performance of “Such A Night,” which Elvis released as a single in July of 1964. Both are straightforward covers and leave the listener wanting more.

It’s nice to have Donna Loren alive and well and performing again. While she has connections back to the 1960’s, she should not be considered a nostalgia act, as her sound has since been modernized. Donna Does Elvis in Hawaii is a nice re-introduction to an artist who has been out of the spotlight too long.

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About David Bowling

  • David James

    I think she did some pretty good covers of Elvis songs, and despite most of those songs are very closely linked to Elvis, she managed to do justice to some of them. This is quite commendable considering she has not been singing professionally for many years.