“This is our church, our community, in this room – how you live your life and what you do with your body is your choice here.” Donna Missal’s words hugged the starry-eyed crowd on a rainy night at Nashville’s The Basement East. Concert lovers don’t know true intimacy until experiencing a Donna Missal performance. The atmosphere of familiarity and mutualism facilitated by the headlining artist defied the status quo of rabid fan culture that’s overtaken the current wave of live music. Donna Missal makes her audience feel more than seen, but understood. The artist levels with her audience like it’s her last chance to look the fans in the eyes and express her innermost self.
 Missal’s entrance onto The Basement East’s stage erupted a mass response from the crowd. It felt as if fans had been waiting their entire adult lives for this entrance. Missal’s fanbase is nothing short of dedicated. Evolving with her as she shifts genres and soundscapes, the fans reflect the artist’s commitment to self expression and artistic identity. “Revel” is the artist’s first headlining tour in five years and she’s back with a vengeance and an addicting new sound. An album like “Revel” redefines an artist. Missal has toyed with plenty of musical identities but this album made space for pain, vulnerability, as well as danceability. The initial lead-in of “Flicker” sent the audience into a nonstop fever of movement. Incorporating twitch like drum patterns and creating a strobe like sound, Flicker forges tension and fire telling the story of loss and conquering the circumstances. Behind every song, there’s a movie playing behind her eyes. She so compassionately sings “I don’t want to be the reason you don’t bloom” and the crowd immediately melts into a puddle of their own murky circumstances and conflicting feelings. 
Her songwriting leaves no stone left unturned focusing on the nuance, shades of gray, and ambiguous side of every theme she touches from change to truth to sex. All these complicated narratives she expresses in a way that’s both striking and simple. Donna Missal grounds herself in roots of truth to best grow with her music. She’s an expert at resonating with a room. She can ignite a fire beneath a crowd’s feet and compel the same room to go completely still. Her unmatched vocal prowess ranges from the grit of Janis Joplin to the belting capability of Christina Aguilera. Missal fluidly transitions from the ceiling of her range to the ground floor with ferocity and full control. Her dynamics are just as impressive as her range, perfectly keying into the level of intensity in every word in every song needed to fuel the song to its full impact. Ending the night with her viral success “Keep Lying” you could cut the artist’s intensity with a knife. Perfectly emphasizing every beat and emotion, Donna Missal pulled the audience in for a final demonstration of vocal acrobatics they’ll never forget.
- Isabella Ellis
Photos Courtesy of Ashlee Riggins (For Bell Music Magazine)

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