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“What really helped me in music was this identity.

He is one of the rare French artists to have obtained a Grammy Award for the album Célia by Angélique Kidjo, which he produced and arranged. Companion of Yael Naim, arranger of his greatest hits, David Donatien lifts the veil on his career in #MaParole.

To be born on December 24th is infuriating! Fewer freebies. And then to see the light of day on the same date as a certain internationally known JC, it’s tough. The producer, percussionist and arranger from Martinique, David Donatien was born on December 24, 1970. But for David Donatien, that never posed any problems. On the contrary. The musician is not the megalomaniac type. He patiently traced his path and with the air of not touching it, he literally reached the heights (Grammy Award, Victoires de la Musique) enjoying a tranquility and a very rare freedom for an artist.

At home in Melun, when he was little, David Donatien received congas from his father. The gift inspired him. From an early age, he learned music as a family. At home, there were very often friends and a good atmosphere. It was dancing, it was singing. The father was in charge of a West Indian association. There was a percussionist uncle and another manager of The Perfecta, mythical group of the 60s in Martinique. In short, David Donatien bathed in an open musical atmosphere. Caribbean music at home, soul, funk and then a bit of pop outside. At home, we spoke Creole and during the holidays, David Donatien went to Martinique. With the island, he never cut ties. For the sake of safety, after the baccalaureate, he passed a BTS in electrical engineering, just to be sure of meeting his needs. But since the age of 16, his first stage, he thought only of making music.

Gradually, David Donatien immersed himself in the world of music. In parallel, he had a food job, pawn in a high school, which he appreciated very much. Without asking too many questions, he met a lot of artists and quickly knew how to make himself indispensable. In 2007, he accompanied Bernard Lavilliers as a percussionist. He has very happy memories of it.

Three years earlier, there was the encounter that changed his life: Yael Naim. The two musicians met while accompanying the singer Shirel, daughter of Jane Manson. Yael Naim was coming out of three trying years as a singer in musicals: The ten Commandments and Spartacus the Gladiator. She was not satisfied with her career. David Donatien had lots of ideas and lots of advice to give Yael. This is how they started to work together on an album project. For two years, the two musicians spent their days working, arranging the pieces written by Yael Naim in English and Hebrew. The singer was not convinced by this language, but it was David Donatien who pushed her not to give up.

The two artists recorded in a small apartment in the 11th arrondissement. On some songs, we hear the birds of Paris or even David cooking eggs. It is this artisanal side that made their collaboration very creative. Upon arrival, the album was a hit. It sold across the planet. And the headline new-soul seduced the managers of Apple who chose it for the advertisement of their MacBook Air in 2008. With this album, the two artists won a Victoire de la musique in 2008 and they went on tour. In total: 200 dates across the planet.


From this success, David Donatien and Yael Naim never left each other. They have developed a successful second album together She was a boy released in 2010 with two very addictive titles: come home and Go to the river. Five years later in 2015, the two friends repeated the experience with Olderthe album of maturity with Coward, this premonitory title and clip. Without compromising with the gossip press or bad taste variety, David Donatien and Yael Naim form a creative duo that invents surprising melodies. Tunes that seduce and invite you to daydream. The clips are just as neat. Unity is strength !

But David Donatien seduces other great singers like Angélique Kidjo who called on him to produce and arrange celia, album in tribute to the Cuban salsa diva Celia Cruz. Bingo! The album won a Grammy Award in the World Music category and Barack Obama proudly displayed on his playlist the title La vida is a carnival. He is good, David, against the Goliaths of the music industry to make the crowds dance and win trophies. Does the Martiniquais have the gift of an alchemist? Like what to be born on December 24, it is not insignificant!

David Donatien

Angelique Kidjo and David Donatien.


All previous issues of #MaParole are now available for download on the following podcast platforms: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, Podcast Addict, Sybel, Amazon Music and RadioPlayer France.

December 24, 1970

Birth in Melun


Music win for the album Yael Naim


Album release Older

January 2020

Grammy Award for Album Production celia

►February 26, 2021

Medal of Fort-de-France

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