Donna ‘Noa’ Bursie, teacher at City Honors, musician - The Buffalo News
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Donna ‘Noa’ Bursie, teacher at City Honors, musician

Aug. 27, 1956 – Oct. 12, 2013

Donna “Noa” Bursie, of Clarence, a teacher and singer-songwriter noted for her stirring, soulful vocal style, died Saturday in St. John’s Hospice after a lengthy illness. She was 57.

Born in Buffalo, the youngest of nine children, she was a graduate of Bishop O’Hern High School and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University at Buffalo.

Miss Bursie taught world literature at City Honors School until two years ago, when she retired because of poor health.

Well-known in Buffalo’s music scene for more than 20 years, she began playing guitar as a teenager, picking up an instrument that her mother originally had given to her brother Michael.

“She could do magic with it,” he said.

In the 1990s, she led a folk-rock band called Maya. Later, as a solo artist, she released two CDs – “Talk Story” in 2005 and “Familiar Addiction” in 2008. In 2007, she was an opening act for Richie Havens, India Arie and Los Lobos.

She also was a regular performer at benefit concerts and collaborated with lyricist Christina Abt on a tribute song for the victims of the Flight 3407 plane crash in 2009, “Love Knows No Boundaries,” donating the proceeds to a memorial to the tragedy.

Michael Bursie said his sister frequently performed acts of uncommon generosity. In one instance, he said, when a woman in front of her in a supermarket checkout line was unable to pay for her groceries, Miss Bursie took care of the bill, which was almost $200.

She converted to Judaism about 10 years ago and took the name Noa, one of the daughters of Zelophehad from the Book of Exodus.

Survivors include a son, Zachary; four brothers, Michael, John, Ernest and William; and two sisters, Aline Balduc and Corrine Penn.

Graveside services were held Saturday in B’Nai Israel Cemetery, Cheektowaga.

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