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Profile: Donna Summer

By

Donna Summer

Donna Summer

source: pricegrabber.com

Born:

LaDonna Adrian Gaines on December 31, 1948 in Boston, MA; died May 17, 2012, Key West, FL

Genres:

Disco, Dance music, R&B, Pop

Instruments:

Vocals

Contributions to music:

  • The undisputed queen of disco
  • Dance music's first diva
  • With producer Giorgio Moroder, helped usher in the era of the 12-inch dance single
  • Her first hit, 1975's "Love To Love You Baby," is considered one of the great "orgasm" records
  • Instrumental in making disco a pop phenomenon
  • One of the finest and most powerful singers in all of pop music
  • The first female performer to score four #1 hits in one year
  • The first solo act to score three #1 double albums in a row
  • The first female artist to have two hits in the Top 3 at the same time

Early years:

Born to a musical family in Boston's Mission Hill, Donna Summer learned to sing at an early age, polishing her amazing vocal skills in gospel choirs. After moving to New York to sing on Broadway, she instead found herself with an offer to sing in a production of Hair being staged in Germany, where she eventually met and married actor Helmut Sommer. While recording demos for a Three Dog Night song, she was approached by the European songwriter/production team of Pete Bellotte and Giorgio Moroder, and soon she had a hit, "The Hostage," in three countries.

Success:

It wasn't until 1975, however, that Summer had her first American hit; inspired by the heavy-breathing Serge Gainsbourg hit "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus," Summer wrote "Love To Love You, Baby." When Casablanca label head Neil Bogart played the song at one of his parties, the crowd ate it up, and he signed Summer on the condition that the song be stretched as long as possible. The resultant 16-minute "orgasm record" marked the birth of the 12" dance single. Hit after hit followed, with Donna's song "Last Dance," written for the disco movie Thank God It's Friday, catapulting her to superstardom.

Later years:

As the disco fad cooled, Summer rebounded admirably, cutting a number of notable pop hits in the early Eighties. Yet she had grown tired of being seen as a sexpot, and, with the help of producer Michael Omartian, soon became a born-again Christian. She maintained a presence on the dance charts through the decade, and as that began to wane, she found herself suddenly in demand again due to the disco revival of the '90s. In 2008, she engineered yet another amazing comeback with the smash hit album Crayons, making her the first female to score #1 hits in four consecutive decades. Summer contracted lung cancer in 2011, from which she quietly and privately succumbed ten months later.

Other facts:

  • Beaten out for the Broadway production of Hair by singer Melba Moore
  • Her first single was a cover of the girl-group classic "Sally Go 'Round The Roses" by the Jaynetts
  • Became "Donna Summer" after a misprint of her surname "Sommer" on a record label
  • Bruce Springsteen originally wrote his 1985 hit "Cover Me" with Summer in mind
  • Was the first act to sign with Geffen Records
  • The only person ever to have filled in for Dick Clark on American Bandstand
  • Wrote "She Works Hard For The Money" after hearing the hard-luck stories of a female washroom attendant
  • Has sold over a million dollars' worth of her original paintings

Awards/Honors:

  • GRAMMY Hall of Fame (1978, 1979, 1983, 1984, 1997)
  • Dance Music Hall of Fame (2004)
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame (7000 Hollywood Blvd.)

Recorded work:

#1 hits:

Pop:

"MacArthur Park" (1978)
"Bad Girls" (1979)
"Hot Stuff" (1979)
"No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" (1979)

R&B:


"Bad Girls" (1979)
"She Works Hard For The Money" (1983)

Dance:

"Love To Love You Baby" (1975)
"Four Seasons Of Love" (1976)
"Try Me, I Know We Can Make It" (1976)
"A Love Trilogy" (1976)
"Wasted" (1976)
"I Feel Love" (1977)
"Once Upon A Time" (1977)
"MacArthur Park Suite" (1978)
"Last Dance" (1978)
"Hot Stuff" (1979)
"Bad Girls" (1979)
"No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" (1979)
"This Time I Know It's For Real" (1989)
"Melody of Love (Wanna Be Loved)" (1994)
"I Will Go With You (Con Te Partiró)" (1999)
"Love Is The Healer" (1999)
"I'm A Fire" (2008)
"Fame (The Game)" (2008)
"Stamp Your Feet" (2008)

Top 10 hits:

Pop:

"Love To Love You Baby" (1975)
"I Feel Love" (1977)
"Last Dance" (1978)
"Dim All The Lights" (1979)
"Heaven Knows" (1979)
"On The Radio" (1979)
"The Wanderer" (1980)
"Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger)" (1982)
"She Works Hard For The Money" (1983)
"This Time I Know It's For Real" (1989}

R&B:

"Love To Love You Baby" (1975)
"I Feel Love" (1977)
"Last Dance" (1978)
"MacArthur Park" (1978)
"Heaven Knows" (1979)
"Hot Stuff" (1979)
"On The Radio" (1979)
"Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger)" (1982)
"Unconditional Love" (1983)
"Dinner With Gershwin" (1987}

Dance:

Theme From "The Deep" (1977)"On The Radio" (1979)
"The Wanderer" (1980)
"Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger)" (1982)
"She Works Hard For The Money" (1983)
"Love's About To Change My Heart" (1989)
"This Time I Know It's For Real" (1989}
"The Power Of One" (2000)
"You're So Beautiful" (2004)
"I Got Your Love" (2005)

#1 albums:

Pop:

Live And More (1978)
Bad Girls (1979)
On The Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II (1980)

R&B:

Bad Girls (1979)

Top 10 albums:

Pop:

She Works Hard For The Money (1983)

R&B:

Love To Love You Baby (1975)
Live And More (1978)
On The Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II (1980)
Donna Summer (1982)
She Works Hard For The Money (1983)
Crayons (2008)

Covered by: No Doubt, Tom Tom Club, CeCe Peniston, Laura Branigan, Selena, Madonna, Bronski Beat, New Order, Klaus Nomi, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soft Cell, Vanessa Mae, Samantha Fox, Emmylou Harris
Appears in the movies: Thank God It's Friday (1978)

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