#WomenInMusic Spotlight: Prince disciple Donna Grantis wields a golden axe, fuses melodic funk with metallic jazz

Prince disciple Donna Grantis wields a golden axe, fuses melodic funk with metallic jazz

JUNE 25 • OLG STAGE • 10:30PM

Among Prince’s last collaborators, Toronto’s Donna Grantis wields an impressive axe, smelting Bitches Brew-era jazz fusion with modern funk and metal guitar virtuosity. Rooted in classic rock and funk, Grantis forges expansive landscapes combining melodic fusion jazz with incendiary riffage.

By way of a YouTube video of Grantis covering Billy Cobham’s “Stratus”, a Prince favourite, she was invited to try out for the Purple One’s new, all-girl electric rock band, 3RDEYEGIRL.

Grantis dropped everything to join Prince at his Paisley Park recording compound, and quickly won his love and appreciation as a superlative musician. 3RDEYEGIRL released their debut, PLECTRUMELECTRUM, touring extensively, and making notable appearances on Jimmy Fallon among others.

Following Prince’s death, but motivated by his work ethos, Donna Grantis has gone on to be a highly sought-after guitarist, and successful solo artist. Released in early 2019, her latest album Diamonds & Dynamite is a masterwork in contemporary guitar fusion, and features tabla master Suphala, as well as Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready.

In the player below, CBC Q chats with Donna Grantis about her work with Prince, her solo debut, and her lifelong relationship with guitar.

Citing Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile’ as her musical awakening, Mississauga-born Donna Grantis began playing guitar at 14 consuming her brother’s classic rock records including classics from Guns n’ Roses, AC/DC, Led Zepplin.

Supported by her father’s advice that she master classic blues, Grantis devoured Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Willie Dixon, quickly developing a impressive foundation. She went on to study jazz improvisation at McGill and, upon moving back to Toronto, Grantis cut her teeth touring with notable blues singer Shakura S’Aida; later backing up rapper Kardinal Offishall and pop superstar Amanda Marshall.