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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" 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; she was 63 years old. ~ 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)

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

Comments

I was hooked along with everybody else when I first heard Love to Love You Baby.. and she followed with so many songs that ruled the dance floor. Underrated by the genre, she really was one of the great voices.
Donnnna Summer was simply stunning.
The two most beautiful voices for me are Donna Summer and Martina McBride....D o n n a will be missed! I loved all her music. Martina has a golden voice...
The production on I Feel Love is spot on, combined with Donna's voice, this song is a milestone. Started my whole interest in electronic music. We do miss you Donna.
Donna's voice was so beatiful
Disco didn't suck........ I love most popular music. no way will i ever accept rap/hip hop as music....... . M y motto is Rap is CRAP....
We miss you Donna.

Guatemala central América 1980
benjib0808
Amazing! RIP queen of disco
Love to Love you Baby.Great song.
benjib0808
RIP Donna
Along with the asbestos there were microscopic shards of glass and benzene, which is produced by burning fuel.
My Dad and my Aunt died of lung cancer as well and that was not from smoking because they never smoked. Both of them got cancer from Asbestos
Donna Summer died of cancer as a result of toxins in the 9/11 blast. My mom passed during 9/11 as well. A very, very sad time. But, here is the report. Scientists have long identified asbestos and various other toxic materials as cancer-causi n g ‘carcinogens , and expert analysis found many of these particles in the dust from the World Trade Centre, which lingered over New York for days.
Without a doubt she was one of the most adorable and talented singers of the 70s
Love Ya, Donna RIP
shawnkearns1
Hi
edortiz_2000
I was so in love with this woman, her voice and her energy. While young men were thinking of Farrrah Fawcett I dreamed of a Queen, Donna Summer!!!!
A lot of good memories dancing with my boyfriend at the time, in clubs
i remember when this was out everybody was looking for bad girls
This song made many realize that she was more than a disco queen. This song is a masterpiece
RIP Disco Queen!!!! She made NYC clubs jam
wesmanlv
this was the song that got me to buy my first Donna Summer album.
donna rules
I LOVE this song
Queen Donna you are truly missed.RIP!
good song
THANK YOU DONNA!! RIP.
Hot, hot STUFF, (queen of disco) RIP DS
Just love my Donna Summer there's no music like the 70's!! One of the greatest singers of all time!!!
luisrsoto196 5
The one and only DONNA SUMMER
Love it
How do I post this
nmac959
BOW TO THE DIVA QUEEN.
Queen of disco! #legend
RIP DONNA. DISCO ANGEL!!! Thank you for GREAT MUSIC!!!
Definitely a MAN JAM! MISS MY WIFEY DONNA SUMMER! REST IN PEACE BOO! Definitely a MAN JAM!
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 two days. Now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes when done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it works
fzke
Donna Summer has left a void in the music world. In fact, she'd been working on a new CD at the time of her passing. We miss you dearly, Donna. RIP.
I will always enjoy listening to Donna Summer's music. Whether it is Rock, Disco, Gospel, I have and always will be her #1 fan.
kfwilson112
The true queen of Disco. Donna Summer not only paved the way but to this day she holds the title. Her music reminds me of a time things were golden and when her music was played in a club everyone mad a dash to the dance floor.
Ms. Styles, I have the same problem. But I learned t you can impress people around you by having your music teacher play You should be dancing in class and then dance like John travolta
This Song has SOOOO Much Meaning to Me, Def a Top Ten Favorite. She Looks like My Mother Too!! Lol, Happy Birthday Mom!!!!
what a voice, her music will live on for ever - I miss you donna summer.
She will live on thru her music forever.R.I. P Diva Donna Summer.
My kids were conceived to her songs will alway keep her close to my heart
Billie Jean leaving her cake out in the rain at the corner of Lonely street...
Elvis,Michae l and Donna...can you imagine the shows up there now?
My husband and I use to compete in disc she was the hottest and we loved her;)
I LOVE YOU MUSIC DONNA S
Love it!- Would love see Rhianna do some form of remake!- She would be perfect!!!
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