#BlackHistory ? Remembering Donna Summer: Queen of Disco

by Duchess Magazine
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Donna Summer Queen of Disco

The unforgettable voice lost too soon.

String of multiple hit tracks; “I Feel Love”, “I Will Go with You”, “Bad Girls”, “No More Tears”… having sold more than a whopping 130 million records worldwide throughout her storied career, Donna Summer, dubbed the mother of modern day techno music was an undoubtedly a power performer who thrilled hearts across the globe with her three octave mezzo-soprano vocal range throughout the 70s and the 80s. Donna Summer who stood out from her contemporaries with her soulful delivery is credited for playing a pivotal role in the emergence of dance music.

A five time Grammy winner, Summer’s music which was a refreshing merger of R&B, soul, pop, funk, rock and disco hit massive airwaves and uncountable dance floors from the mid-’70s well into the ’80s. Donna Summer was the first artist to win the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female (1979, “Hot Stuff”) as well as the first-ever recipient of the Grammy for Best Dance Recording (1997, “Carry On”). In 2004, she became one of the first inductees, as both an Artist Inductee and a Record Inductee (for 1977’s “I Feel Love”) into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in New York City.

The music icon whose feminist and empowering anthems served as a template for Pop diva Beyonce, Madonna, Rihanna amongst other skyrocketed to international super-stardom in the mid-1970s many thanks to her groundbreaking hit, “Love to Love You Baby.”


Born LaDonna Adrian Gaines Dec. 31, 1948, in Boston, one of seven children, from a deeply religious background, like most stars she grew up singing in church – hence she deeply desired to be perceived and remembered as more than just a sex symbol. The talented act caught up on her passion quite early and while in her teens she decided to build a career in music her career. In the late 1960s she joined the Munich company of the rock musical “Hair” and relocated to Germany.

In 1973, during a Munich recording session with the band Blood, Sweat & Tears, Summer met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, immediately entranced by her voice, she was offered an invitation to work with them – that was how she recorded “The Hostage,” her debut single. It was warmly received and became a hit in the Netherlands, France and Belgium.

In 1975, Moroder and Bellotte produced the international hit, “Love to Love You Baby,” it rose to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, with that, Summer established herself in the United States as a key figure of the then-emerging disco genre.

“Love To Love You Baby” paved the way for international hits as “MacArthur Park,” “Bad Girls,” “Hot Stuff,” “Dim All The Lights,” “On The Radio,” and “Enough Is Enough,” as well as the Grammy and Academy award winning theme song “Last Dance,” from the film “Thank God It’s Friday,” which secures place as one of the high moments in Donna’s super successful music career. In 1980, Summer became the first artist to sign with David Geffen’s new label, Geffen Records.

As years passed by, Summer collaborated with bigwigs such as Quincy Jones, Michael Omartian and England’s dance-pop production compound Stock Aitken Waterman, including producing a string of hits from “State of Independence,” featuring Michael Jackson on backing vocals, to beloved feminist anthem “She Works Hard For The Money,” one of the most-played songs of all-time.

Sadly, although Donna Summer excelled in the spotlight, she had an insanely difficult past which involved molestation, racism, drug issues, spousal abuse and financial exploitation. Consequently, along the line, depression set in and in late 1976 she attempted suicide. She would later start taking medication for depression as well as hold on tightly to her faith and religion.

Her 2003 tell all autobiography, “Ordinary Girl: The Journey,” written with Marc Eliot, gave deep insight to her struggles and troubles.

She released her final album, “Crayons,” in 2008. It debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard charts,

Donna Summer, during her lifetime had a number of achievements and accolades; “Hot 100 Artists of All Time,” inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame on April 18, 2013 in Los Angeles to name but a few.

As an actress, the versatile entertainer had a recurring role on the hit 1990s sitcom “Family Matters. She also had an appearance in Thank God It’s Friday (1978), for which she performed her hit Last Dance. That song won Summer her first Grammy.

May 17, 2012, the world recieved a
rude shock, beloved icon, Donna Summer, widely recognised as the greatest singer in disco history, passed on from lung canacer at Naples, Florida, aged 63.

Summer left behind three daughters and four grandchildren. Till date, her extraordinary life and legacy lives on!

Rest on Queen ?

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