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The World Today is a Mess

Donna Hightower

The World Today is a Mess

Little Donna Hightower – Citizen of the World

Donna Hightower in Paris
circa the 1950's- photo by Eddy Wiggins

Donna Lubertha Hightower also known as “Little Donna Hightower”, was born December 28, 1926, in Caruthersville, Missouri. Growing up, she enjoyed listening to Ella Fitzgerald and other legendary jazz artists, but it was never her dream to become a singer. By the age of 23, she had been married and divorced with two children.


She had been working in a diner in Chicago, when Bob Tillman, a reporter with the Chicago Defender newspaper, heard her singing. This lead to bookings as a singer at the Strand Hotel and eventually a recording contract with Decca Records where she recorded her first single, “I Ain’t In The Mood”, in 1951.


During the 1950s she recorded, often accompanied by the Maxwell Davis Orchestra and she toured the US, with the stars like B. B. King, Johnny Mathis, Della Reese, and many others. By 1958, the invitations to perform and tour dried up, so she took a job with a music publishing company in New York where she would record demonstration records of new songs. This led to a recording contract with Capitol Records and established her international career.

In 1959, she moved to Europe, living first in France, then Belgium finally settling in Madrid. In 1971 she won the Costa del Sol International Song Festival, then in 1972, She recorded “The World is a Mess Today” which sold over one million copies worldwide and was a major hit in France where she would perform to sold-out audiences.


In 1990, she returned to the United States to live in Austin, Texas where she was active in the Austin Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America. In 2006 she performed at a jazz festival in Spain. It was her last performance before her death on August 19, 2013, in Austin in 2013 at the age of 86.

1964 in Europe
Host A Screening of African Americans in Paris

Paris Noir -African Americans in the City of Light, a one-hour documentary by Blue Lion Films, tells the outstanding story of pioneering men and women who found liberté, egalité, and fraternité (freedom, equality, and brotherhood) abroad, that they did not find at home in America.

Paris Noir has options for hosting, from educational viewing to screening as a fundraiser.

Choose a screening option that meets your needs:

High definition DVD to host and promote a single community film screening, INCLUDING Skype talk with one of the filmmakers, can introduce the film, the answer questions during a post-viewing Q&A. Includes 10 copies of the companion book African Americans in the City of Light for sale to your attendees.  $250.00.

High definition DVD to host and promote a single community film screening, PLUS one of the filmmakers attend your screening, introduce the film, then answer questions and facilitate a community building exercise after the film. $500.00- + Lodging

Option for multiple screenings is available.  Contact us for more information and pricing.

Increase your fundraising potential!  Additional books available to sell at your event, or separately to raise funds for your organization.

Books must be ordered by the organizer in advance. Shipping cost is additional. The organizer keeps 100% of the revenue from the sale of books. Discounts apply as follows:

10 -19 books = 10% off
20 – 29 books = 20% off
30 or more items = 25% off

For more information or to schedule a screening Email: /

At the age of six, living in Chicago, Illinois, I saw Paris and San Francisco for the first time between the pages of my World Book Encyclopedias. That began my love affair with books and magazines. It also led me to declare that when I grew up I would live in San Francisco and Paris. While most of us never get to achieve our childhood dreams, I have been able to do so. I've lived in San Francisco since 1984 and got my first apartment in Paris in 2001. For nearly 18 years I have traveled between my two favorite cities on earth, while I enjoy a life of writing, coaching, and speaking. Life for me is a banquet and I am savoring every moment!

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