34K: Karrington Donald’s musical side

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Julia Maenius/The Paisano

Julia Maenius, Assistant Sports Editor

UTSA women’s basketball team’s Karrington Donald has achieved many accolades during her four-year career as a Roadrunner, both on and off the court. The senior guard began her music career at the age of 11 after becoming interested in music through playing Guitar Hero.

“I was interested in the songs, and I wanted to play guitar, too,” Donald said. “I begged my dad to get me a guitar, and I was so bad at first. I just kept at it because it was really fun to me. It started off as a hobby.”

Donald assumes the stage name “34K” during her performances. She sings, plays the guitar and piano, produces her own music and is learning to play the trumpet.

“Being a basketball player, my number is 34,” Donald said. “A middle school coach of mine told me that Karrington Donald as your stage name is too boring. I walked into her office one day and she said, ‘34K.’ At first I did not like it, but it really grew on me, and that is a part of me.” 

Donald draws her instrumental inspiration from seven-time Grammy winner John Mayer. She’s influenced by singing and songwriting from the 90s and early 2000s neo-soul, a genre mixture of rhythm and blues with jazz, and artists such as Jill Scott, India Arie and D’Angelo. 

“R&B and soul artists have really inspired me to take on my own style,” Donald said. 

Donald draws her songwriting inspiration from stories in her life, whether those are personal or recounts from friends. She retells aspects of her own life and infuses them with imagination through her lyrics.

“Sometimes it comes from my imagination from stories I have heard from friends or just what I see in the world,” Donald said. “I kind of just let it happen. I don’t really force anything.”

As she begins to produce her own music, Donald has started to collaborate with other artists. Her production is featured on the EP “Yellow” from ukulelist Ariel Corinne.

“I am now starting to work with other artists,” Donald said. “I would really like to do that a lot more and be able to collaborate with people. I have been really blessed to have people reach out to me to help them. A lot of times, people are just trying to make something new, and they like what you are doing as an artist, so they reach out, or you reach out to them. That process is always really fun.”

Donald has built her own at-home studio for recording and production over the course of seven years.

“I have all of the equipment I need to record a full-length album in my room right now,” Donald said. “I am a DIY girl right now.”

Having written over 100 songs, Donald has one released album, “Wishful Thinking,” released in 2017 on all streaming services, and she has posted covers on YouTube under the name 34Kmusic.

“At that point in time, I released all of the songs I had at the moment,” Donald said. “I was new to songwriting back then. I played my songs for my family, and they picked the songs for me. Now I have a lot more to choose from, so it is going to be really difficult to choose which songs are on this next project. It is a good problem to have.”

Since she has released her album, Donald’s favorite original song to perform is “Radio.”  “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse is her favorite cover during performances. 

“It is one of my favorites, and I am so glad I was able to get the idea to write that,” Donald said. “A lot of people actually sing that song with me, which is probably why I like it.”

Growing as an artist and beginning to collaborate with other artists and producers, Donald chose two rappers and one of her neo-soul inspirations as her dream collaborations.

“I would really like to collab with either Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole,” Donald said. “I think those two are amazing artists, and I have always loved and followed their music. If I had to choose a singer to collab with, I would love to collab with Jill Scott.”

Performing throughout San Antonio, Donald has played at many UTSA events such as St. Baldrick’s Day and UTSA Underground, as well as other events such as Dig That Jazz on the Hill and downtown venues for open mic nights. Donald’s favorite performance of her career was at Coffee with a Cause held at UTSA.

“I had a friend of mine who was a saxophone player, and we would always go and perform places,” Donald said. “It was so great, and the audience was awesome. We actually got encored, which was so cool.”

As an athlete and a performer, Donald draws many comparisons between the adrenaline and excitement she experiences on stage and on the court. 

“There is an adrenaline rush that happens that is very similar from when I am starting a song on stage and hear people making comments and clapping versus when we tip the ball off for the game,” Donald said. “They are both an adrenaline rush, and I just go into a zone with both things.”

Looking forward in regard to her music career, Donald is working on new projects. Her next release will be an album, but she has not selected a release date yet.

“I want to release my next project, which will probably be 10 or more songs, next summer,” Donald said. “I will have enough time to make sure everything is good with that. Before then, there might be some little things dropped here or there, too. There might be some surprises between that period of time too that I have worked on.”

While she uses San Antonio as her main stage, Donald has been recognized on a larger platform. In 2018, Glamour Magazine featured Donald’s cover of Janelle Monae’s “I Like That” on their video “Janelle Monáe Watches Fan Covers on YouTube.”

“I put out the video only because one of my Instagram followers asked me to look more into Janelle Monae as an artist,” Donald said. “I was, at the time, putting out a lot more YouTube covers than I am now, so I learned the song and put it out. All of a sudden, I am getting reached out to by Glamour Magazine. It is an honor, and I don’t know what has topped that since.”

Donald’s proudest moment as a musician has been releasing her music. 

“It took a lot of courage for me to put my work out there, and the fact that I was able to produce it myself, perform it, and create something for people to listen to for years to come was probably my greatest achievement so far,” Donald said.

Looking forward to graduation, Donald plans to continue pursuing her music career while also working in other industries. With a job lined up after her graduation in the spring, she will continue to release music and produce while working another job.

“This is definitely a really big part of my life, and I know that music will always be with me,” Donald said. “I just want to be able to continue to work with people and be able to put good music out there.”