The People's Tribune

Grote Gives Rousing Show In Clarksville

Moments after taking the stage, Donna Grote told the audience at her first solo concert that music “encourages us through life’s ups and downs.”The next two hours proved her point. Grote delivered tunes from 1936 to 2017 during her show “Music Through the Decades” Aug. 25 at the Apple Shed Theatre in Clarksville.From the opening chords of “Goody, Goody” popularized by the Benny Goodman Orchestra to the final notes of “This is the Moment” from the musical “Jekyll & Hyde,” Grote captivated the crowd of more than 75 people.The expansive song list illustrated a refreshing diversity and proved the singer’s talent across a broad range of many styles – a true audience-pleaser.“Music stirs something in us,” she noted. At no time was that more apparent than when Grote offered a stirring, extended version of “God Bless America,” which she dedicated to veterans. All in attendance who were able stood, and many sang along. Another patriotic song was “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning,” composed by country artist Alan Jackson after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.Perhaps the most indelible moment was Grote’s incredible rendition of the 1973 Dolly Parton song “I Will Always Love You,” which became popular again after Whitney Houston recorded it for the 1992 film “The Bodyguard.” Grote’s voice soared as richly as that of Parton or Houston.History was showcased throughout, with the Bowling Green performer mixing national highlights with personal stories. A recording of a radio announcement about the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was followed by Grote singing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” popularized by The Andrews Sisters during World War II and given new life in the 1970s by Bette Midler.It would have been easy to keep everything buoyant, but Grote did not refrain from heartbreak songs. She channeled Billie Holiday on the jazz standard “All of Me,” Brenda Lee on “I’m Sorry” and Juice Newton on “Break it to Me Gently.” There also was an affecting rendition of “Born to Be Blue,” which included spirited piano accompaniment by Debbie Ingram.There were lighter moments, too, such as the goofy “Lollipop” and the sugary “Going to the Chapel of Love” (the flower bouquet she tossed into the audience at the end of the tune was caught by an older gentleman). Subtle sizzle oozed through the intimate room with the finger-snapping, toe-tapping 1956 Peggy Lee hit “Fever.”Ricky and Mary Lang Fournier, who formed The Changelings theater group last year to bring stage productions back to the Apple Shed, joined Grote for a lively and animated rendition of “Personality.” She also couldn’t resist donning a pink feather boa and doing the ABBA disco hit “Dancing Queen.”Grote told the crowd she was a huge fan of television’s “American Idol,” and performed the song “Home” popularized by Phillip Phillips from the show’s 11th season.Also a fan of musicals, Grote sang the defiant, motivational “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman.” And she couldn’t resist getting the audience involved for a chorus of “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley.Grote thanked those who had helped make the day possible. Though it was her first solo show, many remembered Grote from the local 1990s band Wild Country. She plans to continue performing.The concert was sponsored by Raintree Arts Council, a non-profit, multi-disciplinary arts agency serving Pike and Lincoln counties that receives partial funding from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

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