Electronic pop singer Alexis Donn overcame a rare debilitating medical condition three years ago. Now she wants to help fund research into the malady.
Her benefit concert Aug. 17 at Cafe Zippy in Everett is part of that effort.
Donn, whose real name is Alexis Hammann, will be raising money for Dysautonomia International, a nonprofit focused on research and awareness about postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS.
POTS is a condition in which a change from lying to standing causes an abnormally large increase in heart rate, with symptoms including lightheadedness, trouble thinking, blurred vision or weakness.
For Donn, 23, of Tacoma, the symptoms came all at once in 2016, when she was a student at the University of Notre Dame. She spent that spring bedridden in a hospital — sometimes going days without sleep. Her education, promising track-and-field career and lifelong love for singing and songwriting were all put on hold.
“Looking back, it was awful,” she said. “It was beyond excruciating — physically and emotionally. It was three months of thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can wake up feeling like I can barely move.’”
Fortunately, her illness was temporary. It wasn’t long until she was singing again, and the experience put her priorities in focus. She grew up entering talent shows, singing national anthems and posting covers of her favorite songs online, but decided it was finally time to take her music more seriously.
She picked up her athletic career and went back to school (she majored in marketing and minored in journalism), all the while writing lyrics in her free time and networking with electronic dance music acts.
“I knew I wanted to do electronic pop, but it was more so getting in touch with the right people after college,” she said.
Networking led to a collaboration with rising duo MiNDTRiX — which recently signed with Armada Music, one of the top EDM record labels in the world — on “3AM,” released in 2018. The catchy anthem features Donn’s vocals as it builds to an energetic climax.
That song led to more collaborations with well-known electronic producers, which have totaled nearly 500,000 streams on Spotify, YouTube and SoundCloud.
At Zippy’s, Donn will perform electronic collaborations released over the past year, songs from her unreleased debut album, “sALt,” and acoustic covers of her favorite artists, including Dua Lipa and Halsey.
“I’m really excited and emotional about it,” she said. “I know people who are going through (POTS) for years and don’t know what the diagnosis is. I knew that if I could get out of this, somebody needs to help those people who were just as scared as I was.”
Donn, who works in digital marketing at a health care organization in Tacoma, will release “sALt”on Oct. 17 for Dysautonomia Awareness Month. The title is a reference to how POTS has affected her life — the mineral helps stave off the condition’s symptoms — but also her salty songwriting style.
She said music has become the outlet she needed to recover from her ordeal.
“This is my medicine,” she said. “This album was me healing and, in so many ways, it is the salt to my soul.”
She plans to donate all profits from the album to Dysautonomia International.
Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
If you go
Alexis Donn’s benefit concert for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome is at 5 p.m. Aug. 17 at Cafe Zippy, 1502 Rucker Ave., Everett. Donations will go to Dysautonomia International, a nonprofit focused on POTS research and education. More at www.alexisdonn.com.