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Donna Summer

Donna Summer's title as the "Queen of Disco" wasn't mere hype -- she was one of the very few disco performers to enjoy a measure of career longevity, and her consistent chart success was rivaled in the disco world only by the Bee Gees. Summer was certainly a talented vocalist, trained as a powerful gospel belter, but then again, so were many of her contemporaries. Of major importance in setting Summer apart were her songwriting abilities and her choice of talented collaborators in producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, which resulted in a steady supply of high-quality (and, often, high-concept) material. But what was more, few vocalists could match the sultry, unfettered eroticism Summer brought to many of her best recordings, which seemed to embody the spirit of the disco era perfectly. The total package made Summer the ultimate disco diva, one of the few whose star power was even bigger than the music.

Summer was born LaDonna Andre Gaines on December 31, 1948, and grew up in Boston's Mission Hill section. Part of a religious family, she first sang in her church's gospel choir, and as a teenager performed with a rock group called the Crow. After high school, she moved to New York to sing and act in stage productions, and soon landed a role in a German production of Hair. She moved to Europe around 1968-1969, and spent a year in the German cast, after which she became part of the Hair company in Vienna. She joined the Viennese Folk Opera, and later returned to Germany, where she settled in Munich and met and married Helmut Sommer, adopting an Anglicized version of his last name. Summer performed in various stage musicals and worked as a studio vocalist in Munich, recording demos and background vocals. Her first solo recording was 1971's "Sally Go 'Round the Roses," but success would not come until 1974, when she met producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte while working on a Three Dog Night record. The three teamed up for the single "The Hostage," which became a hit around Western Europe, and Summer released her first album, Lady of the Night, in Europe only. In 1975, the trio recorded "Love to Love You Baby," a disco-fied reimagining of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin's lush, heavy-breathing opus "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus." Powered by Summer's graphic moans, "Love to Love You Baby" became a massive hit in Europe, and drew the attention of Casablanca Records, which put the track out in America. It climbed to number two on the singles charts, and became a dance club sensation when Moroder remixed the track into a 17-minute, side-long epic on the LP of the same name.

In the wake of "Love to Love You Baby," albums (as opposed to just singles) became an important forum for Summer and her producers. The 1976 follow-up Love Trilogy contained another side-long suite in "Try Me (I Know We Can Make It Work)," and demonstrated Moroder and Bellotte's growing sophistication as arrangers with its lush, sweeping strings. Four Seasons of Love, released later in the year, was a concept album with one track dedicated to each season, and 1977's I Remember Yesterday featured a variety of genre exercises. Despite the album's title, it produced the most forward-looking single in Summer and Moroder's catalog, the monumental "I Feel Love." Eschewing the strings and typical disco excess, "I Feel Love" was the first major pop hit recorded with an entirely synthesized backing track; its lean, sleek arrangement and driving, hypnotic pulse laid the groundwork not only for countless Euro-dance imitators, but also for the techno revolution of the '80s and '90s. It became Summer's second Top Ten hit in the U.S., and she followed it with Once Upon a Time, another concept album, this one retelling the story of Cinderella for the disco era.

Summer's albums were selling well, bolstered by her popularity in the dance clubs, and she was poised to become a major pop hitmaker as well. Her acting turn in the 1978 disco-themed comedy Thank God It's Friday produced another hit in "Last Dance," which won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal (as well as an Oscar for songwriter Paul Jabara). Doubtlessly benefiting from the added exposure, the double-LP set Live and More became Summer's first number one album later that year. It featured one side of new studio material, including a disco cover of the psychedelic pop epic "MacArthur Park" that became her first number one pop single early the next year. Her 1979 double-LP Bad Girls featured more of her songwriting contributions than ever, and went straight to number one, as did the lusty singles "Bad Girls" -- co-written with husband Bruce Sudano -- and the rock-oriented "Hot Stuff," which made Summer the first female artist ever to score three number one singles in the same calendar year. Her greatest-hits package On the Radio also topped the charts, the first time any artist had ever hit number one with three consecutive double LPs; the newly recorded title track became another hit, and Summer's duet with Barbra Streisand, "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)," became her fourth number one single.

At the peak of her success, Summer decided to leave Casablanca, and became the first artist signed to the new Geffen label. Sensing that the disco era was coming to a close, Summer attempted to modify her style to include more R&B and pop/rock on her first Geffen album, 1980's The Wanderer; the album and its title track were both hits. Not wanting to alienate her core audience, Summer returned to pure dance music on an attempted follow-up; however, Geffen deemed I'm a Rainbow not worthy of release (it was finally issued in 1996). Instead, Summer ended her collaboration with Moroder and Bellotte and teamed up with Quincy Jones for 1982's Donna Summer. "Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)" was a significant hit, but none of its follow-ups did very well. With producer Michael Omartian, Summer moved back into post-disco dance music and urban R&B with 1983's She Works Hard for the Money; its title track was a smash and became a feminist anthem of sorts.

However, with her career momentum slowing, it also marked the end of Summer's prime. Despite winning a gospel Grammy for "Forgive Me," Summer's 1984 follow-up Cats Without Claws flopped, as did the 1987 comeback effort All Systems Go. Hiring the British production team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, Summer scored her last major success with the 1989 Top Ten single "This Time I Know It's for Real," from the album Another Place & Time; around the same time, she began denouncing her earlier, "sinful" disco material. Released in 1991, the lackluster, urban-styled Mistaken Identity effectively killed her career momentum, and none of her new '90s albums produced that elusive hit. However, she did make some noise on the dance charts with "Melody of Love," from the excellent 1994 retrospective Endless Summer, and reunited with Moroder for the 1997 non-LP single "Carry On," which won the inaugural Grammy for Best Dance Recording. Summer subsequently signed a deal with Sony, which primed her for re-establishment with the 1999 greatest-hits live album VH1 Presents: Live and More Encore!; it featured the new song "I Will Go with You (Con Te Partiro)," which had some success on the dance charts. The energetic and eclectic Crayons, her first proper studio album since Mistaken Identity, was released on the Burgundy label in 2008. She remained intermittently active with concert and TV appearances during the next several years, and released the "To Paris with Love" single in August 2010. After battling lung cancer, Donna Summer died at her home in Naples, Florida on May 17, 2012. The following April, she was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: I'm A Fire (Solitaire Club Mix) (Radio Single)

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Track List: Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger) (Chromeo & Oliver Remix) (Single)

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Track List: Love To Love You Baby (Giorgio Moroder Remix) (Single)

x

Track List: MacArthur Park (Laidback Luke Remix) (Single)

Comments

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cquiroga
I LOVE Donna Summer
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really the queen of disco
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artist685
Tina Arena..... WOW! What a voice!
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artist685
DONNA WAS THE BEST SINGER EVER! I will forever miss her talent, but find solace in singing her songs home and out in public. I was her biggest fan & she never forgot me! I love & miss you DONNA! Love, Chase
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Her music makes me want to just get up and dance dance dance Tina!!!
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Toot toot! Beep beep!
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Love this song brings back so many good memories,whe n I was back in High school,love Donna she was a great artist RIP ��
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Love her music, great disco artist, when I listen to her songs it make go back to the good o'days back home in NYC����
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I wonder why Pandora does not expand her discography and include the albums she made in the 80s also
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kristenkelly 7 7
I loved Disco, DJed in the 80's and she could get them out on the dance floor. She was the Queen, talented singer, song writer and artist, on the record and pallet, she did some beautiful paintings. You let us way too soon.
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R.I.P. DONNA
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I MUST HAVE BEEN IN SPACE WHEN DONNA SOMMERS PAST AWAY
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R.I.P. Donna.
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luckychip6
love that voice for always!!
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bedaroses1
still, luving u , donna...
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She was truly one of the greatest back then, all the party's played Donna Summer, On the radio was a favorite of mine among so many other songs she made
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McArthur's Park!
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artist685
One of the best performers EVER. Her voice was/is powerful, harmonic, enticing, and she gave her all in everything! I MISS YOU DONNA! Love you!
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S**t! I also meant to say that, it was several months later after she passed that I learned of it, NOT YEARS!
(Her beauty was amazing!)
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Sorry! I meant to spell Donna, but spelled too fast, bcuz Pandora deletes if u take too long! It happened 3 times before I could leave the other comments!
Rest in peace DONNA!❤❤❤
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DAM, I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW THAT SHE HAD PASSED UNTIL SEVERAL YEARS LATER! �� I WAS JUST A KID WHEN I FELL IN LOVE WITH HER MUSIC, & STILL DO ALL THESE YEARS LATER!! ��
Rest in peace Diana! ❤
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artist685
A true artist who actually sang better live! And she sang REALLY sang. Not like these girls lip syncing.
DONNA I will miss you everyday! I truly loved you're voice and soul. You were beautiful inside and out. Bless you!
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I saw her perform in 1980 at Madison Square Garden. Donna was awesome! She could sing anything! RIP Donna Summer.
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All the words in the Dictionary are not enough to define what this artist was and what she brought to the music world. I am so fortunate to have had her music in my life! We will always miss and love her.
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I love Disco, I miss Disco, but, I LOVE and MISS DONNA more!!
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My mother loved Donna Summers... I remember she had this album.
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Love Donna she is one of my top five artist of all time!! Miss her very much
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artist685
Every time I hear DONNA, I get a tear in my eye because I truly loved her and her magical voice. She helped me threw really bad times as a kid. Man I miss her! Love you DONNA Summer!
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My 7 0's favorites music love it
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Disco Queen...rip
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Donna will live on forever in my heart.
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I. Love. DISCO.
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I vow to comment when there is spam. Even if I don't have anything to say.
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Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in the next 2 days. Now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in BIG letters this is so scary cud it actually works!
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kevin-burns9
Donna summer had a fantastic vocal!! But believe it or not she really wanted sing rock n roll she would be Dynamite! MacArthur park !!!rocks baby yeah!!Donna! ! ! p k b 4 5
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Best talent ever no on can ever replace her
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My favorite Disco song when I would go dancing back in the 70's at Club 1191. She epitomized that era!! I need a time machine.
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artist685
I dance to her gift-her songs everyday! She really was a gem of a person and actually a genuine person with an soul, love, beauty, most of all talent. I really miss her and her concerts! She NEVER forgot her fans! Ill love her forevermore. When I was a kid I wished she was my mother! The best. And screw some of the Rock n Roll Hall of Famers for not liking her soulful talent or I should say.....Donn a had the last laugh because she's in it forever! The best forever.
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Dance to her baby.... never let go G.
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She was one greartest female singers ever a lot people will miss her
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artist685
Her voice & songs will be here forever! Love you so much Donna & miss you!!!!!
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I got to love Donna summers as she is one of the greats then, now and forever
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What a gem of a song #reggie regi reg
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artist685
There will never be a voice or talent like Donna Summer! I miss her! God bless you Donna and your family. I loved you.
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Used to DJ parties when I was young and play this song last . How corny!
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Donna Summer, we love you and missed you. I love all your disco songs and enjoyed dancing too! A great diva that will never be forgotten.��
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blueyedmom00 7
I don't care what ANYONE says....Disc o will ALWAYS be my favorite music. RIP Donna.
Report as inappropriate
Try. Me. Will. Always. Be. My. Forever. Favorite. Song. By. Her. The. Recording Is. 20. Minutes And. Enough Is. Enough With. Barbra Strisand. Is. One. More. That. I. Liked.
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Many times I danced to to Donna at THE SAINT NYC back in the day
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kevin-burns9
I always loved MS Donna Summer voiced I really loved on the radio!!! So sad of her passing what a real talent god bless Donna !!!luv u!!!pkb45
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