The Queen of Disco Music (b. December 31, 1948 - d. May 17, 2012)
The late singer/songwriter/pop culture icon Donna Summer is the best Disco Music expression.
Donna Summer, of course, rocketed to international superstardom in the mid-1970s when her groundbreaking merger of R&B, soul, pop, funk, rock, disco and avant-garde electronica catapulted underground dance music out of the clubs of Europe to the pinnacles of sales and radio charts around the world.
Maintaining an unbroken string of hits throughout the 70s and 80s, most of which she wrote, Donna holds the record for most consecutive double albums to hit #1 on the Billboard charts (3) and first female to have four #1 singles in a 12 month period; 3 as a solo artist and one as a duo with Barbra Streisand.
A five-time Grammy winner, 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. It is estimated that Donna Summer has sold more than 130 million records worldwide.
The arrival of a new Donna Summer album is a major musical event and CRAYONS is a worthy addition to one of the world’s most influential musical catalogs. “I wanted this album to have a lot of different directions on it,” says Donna. “I did not want it to be any one baby. I just wanted it to be a sampler of flavors and influences from all over the world. There’s a touch of this, a little smidgeon of that, a dash of something else … like when you’re cooking.”
In 1975, Moroder and Bellotte produced the international hit, “Love to Love You Baby,” which rose to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and triggered Summer’s triumphant return to the United States as a key figure of the then-emerging
disco genre. “Love To Love You Baby” paved the way for such 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 remains a milestone in Donna’s career.
Listen to Mac Arthur Park (Suite) by Donna Summer:
In 1980, Summer became the first artist to sign with David Geffen’s new label, Geffen Records, leaving her disco days behind and moving into the next phase of her career .” In the years that followed, Summer collaborated with writers and producers such as Quincy Jones, Michael Omartian and England’s dance-pop production compound Stock Aitken Waterman and produced a steady stream of hits from “State of Independence,” featuring Michael Jackson on backing vocals, to the abiding feminist anthem “She Works Hard For The Money,” one of the most-played songs of all-time, and the infectious “This Time I Know It’s For Real.”
In 1994, she released “Endless Summer,” a greatest hits retrospective containing a new song, “Melody of Love,” which became Billboard’s #1 Dance Record of the Year. She also released the critically acclaimed gem “Christmas Spirit,” a collection of Summer’s original songs and holiday standards recorded with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Summer spent the ‘90s continuing to tour, performing to sold-out audiences worldwide.
In 1997, when the new “Best Dance Recording” Category was created at the Grammy Awards, Donna Summer was the first winner with her fifth career Grammy award for “Carry On.” In 1999, Sony/Epic Records released “VH1 Presents Donna Summer: Live & More – Encore!,” an album and DVD of Summer’s critically acclaimed VH1 broadcast taped at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. The show premiered
on VH1 as one of the network’s highest rated shows to date and featured live performances of Summer’s top hits.
Listen to Dim All the Lights:
Donna Summer has earned five Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, three consecutive #1 platinum double albums (she’s the only artist, male or female, ever to accomplish this), 11 gold albums, four #1 singles, 2 platinum singles, and 12 gold singles. Donna is also the first female artist to have a #1 single and #1 album on the Billboard charts simultaneously (“Live & More;” “MacArthur Park” 1978) a feat she also repeated six months later (“Bad Girls” & “Hot Stuff” in 1979). She has charted 21 #1 hits on the Billboard Disco/Dance charts, over a period of 25 years a milestone solidifying her as THE Queen of Dance.
In addition to her recording and performing career, Summer is an accomplished visual artist whose work has been shown at exhibitions worldwide including Steven Spielberg’s “Starbright Foundation Tour of Japan” and The Whitney Museum as well as a prestigious engagement at Sotheby’s in New York. In 2003, Random House published her autobiography “Ordinary Girl,” co-authored with Marc Eliot. Also that year, Universal released “The Journey,” containing all of her original hits, as well as three new songs.
Two years ago, Donna Summer decided to go back on the road and reconnect with her audience. “I was sitting around the house, like I say on stage, and fast becoming a desperate housewife,” she laughs. “I asked myself, ‘What am I going to do? What do I like?’ I needed to feel like I could connect again with the audience, fully be there, conscious, not with the bells and whistles and a lot of stuff. I wanted to get an honest relationship going. And once I did that, I felt like I could put another record out. It really is difficult after so long to define yourself when people have such a definite past image of you. You need to drop that image somewhat and move on into the future. It"s not easy to find a way to bridge the gap between the old and the new and still not lose the audience and make them feel you've deserted them from who you used to be. I've gotten older, I'm a mother, I have grandkids, my life has changed. Looking around, I've been blessed literally to have a world audience. I've traveled all over the world singing in so many different countries and I really wanted to incorporate some sounds and elements, in the words and instrumentation of other places. I wanted the world to recognize that it had also influenced me.”
Listen to Terri Gross of NPR's "Fresh Air" interviews Donna Summer.
Added May 17, 2012:
Today was the day that Donna Summer fans thought would never come. The news hit midday that she had passed away after a long battle with cancer. It came as a complete shock to everyone as no one had known of her illness. See the New York Times article/obituary for more details.
The scan below of an April, 1979 ad for Donna Summer appearing at Resorts International Casino in Atlantic City submitted by Chuck Smith.
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