Downloadable PDF: Alexis Donn EPK_updated 8.31.19
Over 400k streams on Spotify, 120k streams on YouTube, 70k on Soundcloud and 12.5k followers on social media.
Read my story in the Daily Herald of Everett.
NOTABLE PERFORMANCES & VENUES
Donn was the only soloist to perform with rock legend Todd Rundgren at his 2016 Play Like A Champion charity concert at Debartolo Performing Arts Center at the University of Notre Dame.
2019 summer performances includes shows at some of the most reputable venues in Seattle, including: Chop Suey, Central Saloon, Substation and the Bite of Seattle festival.
Growing up 30min outside of Seattle in Sammamish, WA – Donn was raised on sports, sports, and more sports. A constant team member of several sports teams, Donn grew up spending most of her days in a basketball gym or on a trail or track running. By the end of her high school track career, she had managed to peak at #14 in the nation at the 800m and compete at the prestigious Brook’s PR meet, among other national events. She was recruited to run at schools all over the country, committing to the University of Notre Dame shortly after experiencing the overwhelming kind community and incredible tradition she witnessed on her official athletic visit there.
Music was always a secret passion, but one that slipped in when time permitted. Not until high school did Donn publicly sing, first debuting her voice at a school talent show. Songwriting was always in Donn’s life – by fifth grade she had a folder on her laptop with over 100 different songs. With no music theory knowledge or ability to play an instrument, she naturally picked up melodies quickly. Constantly listening to female pop icons, she mimicked their inflections until she could perform the same vocal tricks – and then analyze what made their melodies so catchy, so memorable.
Once at the University of Notre Dame, Donn’s athletic career was off to an impressive start. Her fall training was in line with her incoming class – an impressive recruiting class full of sub 2:10 800m runners. Donn’s freshman seasons proved mediocre, but what followed was nothing short of unusual.
A week after missing the cutoff for Notre Dame’s 2015 national cross country team by 4 seconds, Donn found herself in the hospital over her sophomore fall break. After 12 hours of what seemed to be the flu, Donn nearly lost consciousness from dehydration and was scooped off her dorm bathroom floor by paramedics on October 17, 2015. After a week on IV’s at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Donn was able to leave with nothing more than a vague diagnosis of “extreme gastroenteritis.” Months later, Donn found herself unbelievably fatigued and suffering from anxiety and depression. Taking a month off of running mid-season that February to see cardiac specialists all over the country, Donn returned with no diagnosis. Yet what felt like overnight, all hell broke loose.
The morning of March 29, 2016, Donn found herself calling 911. She could barely move with the overwhelmingly heavy sense of fatigue – a new feeling for someone that had experienced what she imagined was the ultimate levels of fatigue through collegiate distance training. But this was different. After a single bite of food her stomach bloated to a very painful size, and she had this gravely dreadful feeling that something was horribly wrong.
After a week of being in and out of Memorial Hospital and St. Liam’s Student Center and being told she was healthy, Donn persisted. Refusing to leave St. Liam’s after being told to go home, a doctor by the name of Kevin McAward had an epiphany. He’d worked with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) patients briefly before, but had never diagnosed it. He realized that Donn may be suffering from the rare nervous system condition and sent her to Dr. Mark Walsh, a former ND track athlete and esteemed doctor at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, who held a room for her in the ER. Donn’s mother had met a professor who recommended Dr. Walsh while on a previous flight to visit Donn during her ongoing ailment, and Dr. Walsh even called Donn’s mother to assure her she was in good hands.
Donn and family thought the POTS diagnosis would be the light at the end of the tunnel, but came to find – it was only the beginning of an increasingly uphill battle. The doctors were fortunate enough to be able diagnose POTS, but they couldn’t treat it. There was incredibly small amounts of medical research, funding, and therefore – understanding – of POTS in the medical community. Dr. McAward found evidence that returning to exercise might help, and that salt was a key factor in increasing blood volume and pressure – two of the debilitating trademarks of POTS, extremely low blood pressure and volume.
In a nutshell, in a POTS sufferer, the blood from their brain rushes to their feet when they are upright. Without adequate blood in the brain, the body cannot function properly and fires the wrong signals to other systems – causing hellish insomnia, inability to process food or stay hydrated, inability to regulate body temperature, intense anxiety and depression, random pain, among other symptoms. The kicker? An overwhelming fatigue that Dr. Collins, a physical therapist at Memorial Hospital who gave Donn much evidence on POTS maintenace after seeing her daughters battle it, described as “your body running on a treadmill, with the speed cranked up faster than you can handle, and never being able to get off.”
After many months and many ER visits resulting in “go home, you’re healthy”, Donn’s family finally began to crack her personal code. Beginning with recumbent biking for one minute a day and amping up her salt intake to 6,000-9,000mg a day with 120oz water with EmergenC for electrolyte maintenance – Donn eventually began on the upright bike, then running for two and a half minutes, then five.
By the time Donn returned to school for her junior year, she was 15lbs heavier than she had left and she could only run 3mi a day – a pale comparison to her previous 50mi weeks and 10mi long runs on Sundays. Coach Matt Sparks, her then-distance coach and now Notre Dame’s head coach, didn’t give up on Donn. He let her work out separately until she could return to practice, meeting with her separately to workout with her at times her body could tolerate. The high heat and humidity of Indiana in September meant they’d work out in the mornings, but not too early – they had to allow time for Donn to intake proper salt and water for her system to begin reviving after a night’s sleep.
Eventually returning to practice, Donn found herself far from the front pack where she used to reside. Slowly but surely she began closing the gap, and by January 2017 she was back on the track. A shell of her former self, but her family and friends, along with Dr. McAward, Dr. Walsh, and Coach Sparks cheered on her 2:26 comeback 800m performance. In April 2017, Donn completed her yearlong conversion to Catholicism – citing her unexpected diagnosis and what seemed to be a miraculous healing experience to be nothing short of divine. She chose St. Joan of Arc as her patron saint, because “if I get to choose a saint to fight for me up in heaven, I’m going to need a badass.”
By her senior year, Donn has returned nearly to full health. Never quite able to retain her previous performance level (with an all-time PR of 2:09.81), Donn settled for many 2:15 performances. Her outdoor season was cut early on March 29, 2018 – exactly two years after her POTS diagnosis, and her last practice happened to be an individual training session with Coach Sparks and Sam Murray – her “roomwife” as she calls her – roommate and best friend of three years who witnessed Donn’s illness and catered to her during some of her darkest times.
After an emotional end to an emotional journey, filled with constant support from Donn’s incredible family, then-boyfriend and now-husband Grant Hammann, and amazing friends – Donn found herself determined to make music work. “If I can overcome POTS, I can do anything,” became her inner mantra. After starting an instagram channel her junior year to post covers on and quickly growing it to over 10k followers, her friend and classmate Sarah McAfferty introduced her to Joey Warner, an upcoming electronic producer and also a student at ND. The two hit it off and Donn was featured on MiNDTRiX’s “3AM,” which dropped June 1, 2018 after her graduation.
“3AM” snowballed into producers from all over the globe asking Donn to write and sing on their tracks. Donn began toplining tracks for producers all over the world, in addition to writing and recording her own debut pop album. The album is called “sALt,” as Donn’s credits music as healing her soul the same way salt healed her body. It will drop on October 17, 2019 – exactly 4 years after Donn’s journey with POTS began, and all profits will go to Dysautonomia International – the leading medical research fund and awareness raising organization – for POTS research.
Alexis Donn is bringing the poetry back to pop. With a little salt. Donn’s honest, clever lyrics dance all over her beats like she does on stage, and her unique combination of high energy, old soulfulness and refreshing storytelling abilities makes her new face one not to forget. Donn is currently collaborating with electronic producers all over the world for the top electronic labels in the world, such as Musical Freedom and Armada, in addition to putting the finishing touches on her personal debut album, sALt, due in the fall. Donn is also collaborating with 20th Century Fox producers on several projects for tv and movie music.
She is partnering with Dysautonomia International to donate all profits from her upcoming album to medical research for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a rare nervous system condition she began battling during her time as a track student-athlete at the University of Notre Dame, and is currently in remission from. She is an open book and happy to be as much of a resource as she can for anyone struggling with the rare condition.