In This Episode: Donna Jean Godchaux

In this episode of Backstage Chats with Women in Music, host Thea Wood has a heart to heart with vocal legend and songwriter Donna Jean Godchaux MacKay. With six decades of experience, Donna Jean is mostly known for her singing career with The Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band. But as you’ll find out in this chat, there’s so much more to the girl from Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

The first half of this two-part series covers the beginning of her journey as a teen singer working with superstars like Cher and Elvis.    

Donna Jean Godchaux covers:

  • Meeting and working with a young Cher in the studio
  • The homemade “instrument” her mother came up with so she could make music as a child
  • How Muscle Shoals became a safe haven for musicians amidst societal turmoil
  • How Elvis treated her in the studio and his last words to her before his death
  • What surprising outfit teen Donna Jean wore to the recording studio — they still talk about today!
  • Cultivating lifelong friendships through music

Plus, Donna Jean’s answers to The Shakedown!

Watch Part II of Donna Jean Godchaux’s chat

This is a Herizon Music Foundation production. 2022 ©. Special thanks to Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Gibson Brands for supporting Herizon Music’s education, experience, and role-modeling programs. Contact info@herizonmusic.org if you’d like to join our cause.

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Show Notes


Guest: Donna Jean Godchaux
Host: Thea Wood
Engineering/Production: Chloe Brown
Feature photo: Susana Millman
Song credits: “Shelter” by Donna Jean and the Tricksters

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Guest Links – Donna Jean Godchaux


Donna Jean and the Tricksters “Shelter”

Grateful Dead “Sunrise” (written by Donna Jean Godchaux MacKay)

Click on the link below to watch on Youtube.

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