donna grantis

Donna digs into "Elektra," a PRS CE 22 that's been her main guitar since her teenage years

Prince’s 6-string foil takes us inside the heavy new 3rdEyeGirl album, PLECTRUMELECTRUM.

There’s a definite, almost tangible, musical force that surrounds Prince. When musicians are offered a chance to pass through the Purple One’s sphere of influence, rarely do they say no—even Miles Davis had a late-night jam inside Paisley Park Studios (Prince’s $10 million-dollar recording compound located in Chanhassen, Minnesota). In late 2012, Prince asked drummer Hannah Ford Welton to help recruit a guitarist for a rock-oriented project he was putting together. As Welton was cruising YouTube she came across Toronto guitarist Donna Grantis and her fusion trio play Billy Cobham’s “Stratus,” a tune that was already in Prince’s live show. At the time, Grantis was making her name as a forward-thinking, jazz-inspired rocker in the clubs with her eponymous group. Once Prince saw the video he invited her to Paisley for a jam. The chemistry was immediate. “Within a week I had booked a one-way ticket to Minneapolis,” remembers Grantis.

In the 18 months since that fateful jam, 3rdEyeGirl—the trio of Grantis, Welton, and bassist Ida Nielsen—have become a powerful and funky rock ’n’ roll outfit. Without the behemoth of the New Power Generation’s 11-piece horn section, the group is more nimble, explosive, and so incredibly full of energy, it’s hard to believe it’s just a quartet. “Because we are so small, just the four of us, there’s a lot of room for improvisation. We can really stretch things out,” mentions Grantis. PLECTRUMELECTRUM, the group’s first full-length album shows off the bombastic playing of Welton, the hard-driving bass lines of Nielsen, and of course the adventurous and inventive playing of Grantis. This alone would make for a formidable trio, but with Prince’s Hendrixian, wah-fueled explorations, the result sounds like Jimi fronting Led Zeppelin with a James Brown swagger.

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