Not to be confused with an Austin, TX-based outfit called the Prima Donnas (whose album Drugs, Sex & Discotheques was released on Peek-a-Boo Records in 2001) or the Los Angeles-based punk band Prima Donna, the Prima Donna profiled in this bio is a female-fronted alternative pop/rock group from Philadelphia. Not everyone who has played with Philly's Prima Donna is a woman; the group has used various male drummers and bassists along the way. But the core of the group is female, and that includes lead singer Debbie Kernan as well as twin sisters Gina and Tina Cieri. Gina Cieri has worn different hats with Prima Donna; in addition to playing lead guitar, rhythm guitar and keyboards, she has provided background vocals. Tina Cieri, meanwhile, also provides rhythm guitar and background vocals for Prima Donna. Although people on the Philly rock scene identified Kernan with Prima Donna in the late '90s and early- to mid- 2000s, she was not part of the group's original lineup. Formed by the Cieri sisters (who have done most of the writing), Prima Donna went through various incarnations before the arrival of Kernan in 1998 -- and from that point on, Kernan's lead vocals were an integral part of Prima Donna's sound. Prima Donna has been Kernan's most visible rock gig; before 1998, the Philly resident (who has a masters degree in English and publishing and a minor in theater) sang mostly popular standards and classical music. But she had always wanted to sing rock, and Prima Donna gave her that opportunity. The members of Prima Donna have cited a long list of artists as influences -- some male and some female, some from North America and some from the British Isles. Those influences range from Blondie, the Pretenders, Belly, Pearl Jam, the Clash and U2 to the Beatles, Pat Benatar, David Bowie and Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen. Although Prima Donna was performing around Philadelphia (with some gigs in New York City as well) before Kernan came on board, the group didn't record any albums until four years after her arrival. Not Having Fun, Prima Donna's debut album, was released on the group's own label, Prima Donna Music, in 2002; the disc enjoyed airplay on more than 65 college radio stations in the United States. Prima Donna hoped to record a second album sometime in 2005.
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