An Irvine, California native, Donovan started his musical career with the piano at the age of 5. At the age of 11, he fell in love with the guitar and began private lessons. In 2001, Donovan was admitted to the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in the Studio/Jazz guitar program, and was the recipient of the Paul LaRose memorial scholarship for guitar. While at USC, Donovan studied jazz and contemporary guitar styles with Steve Trovato, Richard Smith, Frank Potenza, and Pat Kelley, as well as classical, flamenco and fingerstyle guitar with David Oakes and James Smith. Donovan graduated from the studio guitar program with honors from USC in 2005. In 2010, Donovan completed a master's degree in Guitar Performance (Jazz Studies) from California State University, Long Beach under the direction of Ron Eschete. While at CSULB, Donovan wrote his master's thesis on fingerstyle guitarist Michael Hedges.
Through his study of Michael Hedges and the world of acoustic fingerstyle guitar, Donovan started to form the ideas for what would ultimately become his debut album of guitar music. Released in 2012, Strategic Tension is the first collection of his music for guitar and is the culmination of several years of writing and discovering the possibilities of the acoustic guitar.