Music Spotlight Follow-Up: Donny Van Slee

Apr 26, 2024 at 06:00 am by Bethany Bowman

Since I interviewed Donny Van Slee back in 2022, I’ve always been intrigued by the chiropractor/country music singer who unashamedly goes to the beat of his own drummer. He was the first person to bring singers like Zach Bryan and Jack Johnson to my attention as they are artists that Van Slee likes to emulate.

Because his life is spread in so many directions you can imagine my surprise when Van Slee showed up on Reba’s team on NBC’s The Voice earlier this spring. When he sang Lanco’s “Greatest Love Story” he was so good that Reba blocked Dan & Shay so she could have him all to herself. He was confident, showing that he was having the time of his life.  

Later, he lost in the Battle Rounds to pal Josh Sanders covering Luke Comb’s “When It Rains It Pours” but he was nonetheless magnificent.

I was privileged to catch up with Van Slee once he returned to Nashville. The main thing I wanted to know was how THEY found him.

He reported, “It was a complete God thing. Just kind of working hard, putting out music in Nashville (all while being a chiropractor). Somebody got a whiff of what I was doing. They found me on Instagram, and I got a random email asking me to send them a couple of videos.”

And though he didn’t make it past the battle round, it will always be an experience that he will cherish.

“The best part about being on the show 100% was all the downtime that we had as contestants just hanging out with everybody. You don't really see that part of it. You see just like us all competing against each other. But that was just a very, very small portion of my experience on the show,” he explained.

When he found out he was going to be on The Voice, Van Slee strategically timed the release of his newest record, 31, to coincide with his time on television. His newfound fans instantly connected with the song “Show Me a Smile” and the title track “31.” While the whole record is about missing his home in Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida, his favorite song off the record is “Cup of Joe” because it’s a mix of country and his beloved Jack Johnson’s style.

With the words Walk a white sandy beach/ Find your favorite snack in a vending machine/ Left our phones in the hotel room/ Don’t need anyone else but you you can see why the rustic lyrics remind him of home.

Van Slee also released a “revisited” version of my favorite tune of his, “God, Too.” He wanted to put out a better version of the autobiographical song, with Zach Bryan’s banjo and steel guitar player, Reed Connolly, accompanying him.

The fiddler saws on Van Slee’s newest creation, “Shinin’” a song about not giving up and being content in your circumstances. The songwriter is adept at sizing up his circumstances and creating music that is meaningful to himself and others.

The full-time chiropractor will continue his side gigs at the Second Fiddle on Broadway and the Omni’s Barlines where he brings a mix of cover songs and original music to the tourists and locals. And like many a country artist, his goal is to grace the stage of the Grand Ole Opry one day.

But his ultimate fantasy would be to play at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. Since that venue is also on my bucket list, hopefully, I will see him there.

Be sure to follow Van Slee on his website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Spotify, and all streaming platforms.

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Bethany Bowman is a freelance entertainment writer. You can follow her blogInstagram, and X(Twitter).