Bandleader Alex Donner has been performing all over the world with his orchestra for nearly 25 years. A native New Yorker, he started out as a divorce lawyer and decided he'd rather work with people on a happier day in their lives: their wedding. After some big gigs as a wedding singer, he broadened his horizons to major events and celebrity clients. Now he heads up Alex Donner Entertainment, a company that focuses on providing entertainment for your special event. On the eve on his milestone anniversary, he spoke to us about his favorite gigs and his upcoming performances.
You're about to celebrate your anniversary with several performances in the Hamptons. What’s up first?
ALEX DONNER: We have a benefit for the Southampton Animal Shelter; it's our tenth time playing [the event]. It's the biggest party in the Hamptons for a great cause.
How do you keep it fresh after performing ten times in a row?
AD: Well, it's ten times over 20 years, so we develop different songs, we grow with the times, and play more popular music like Lady Gaga and Usher and all those things—in addition to old-school, Motown, and big band songs, etc.
You've performed for everyone from Rudy Giuliani to Katie Holmes to Queen Noor of Jordan. Looking back on your career, what have been your favorite shows? AD: I've enjoyed them all. There's that magical moment ‘where the cake rises,’ as they say, and that always makes you happy.
AD: Versailles was a highlight. Jimmy Buffett was a guest and got up and performed with us. He said, ‘I’d like to do “Margaritaville,”’ and I said, ‘Okay, as long as you sing “Mack the Knife” with me.’
Which charities are closest to your heart?
AD: I love the Morris Animal Foundation. I played for them last year and did a 20 minute medley of all animal songs and I put the band in animal masks.
Favorite standards to sing?
AD: My biggest song now that I do is “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
What song is most requested?
AD: "I Will Survive," "Sweet Caroline," "In the Mood," "Dynamite," and some Lady Gaga songs.
Do you live in the Hamptons?
AD: I live in the city, but my parents had a place in Quogue for 30 years, so I spent lots of my time there. I have a lot friends in the Hamptons. I do get to travel around the world, but in my opinion there are no better beaches than the Hamptons.