Have you ever heard of REGGAE/CALYPSO? Yeah, me neither until 1982 when Donna Summer released a song called “State of Independence” and it topped the charts in the UK and then climbed the US charts as well. I remember the beat. I remember playing that album DONNA SUMMER over and over again. Yes, that ALBUM…a vinyl circular thing that has music on it and a needle makes it sing. [Poor kids today don't get to covet those albums and their jackets full of photos and info and the song lyrics. Those albums that you would carefully line up and use to decorate your room and thus defining you and your character]. Donna Summer was one of my favorite musicians. She lost her battle with lung cancer yesterday at the age of 63. Her condition was kept secret and only her close family were aware of her diagnosis 10 months ago. She wanted to finish her time on earth in a normal manner. A very stoic and lovely choice.
Donna Summer had an amazing life. She was born on December 31, 1948, in Dorchester, MA. When she turned 18 she announced to her parents that she wanted to move to New York and be on Broadway. She moved to New York and landed a part in HAIR (hippie musical) and traveled with the touring company. She moved to Europe and her musical journey began.
Donna Summer became a disco icon and she lead one of the most important cultural and music movements in America (and the world for that matter). She projected African American femininity and influenced many artists who would later use her as a guide and inspiration. She was a sensation! She also broke “borders” in the music business when she paired up for a duet with Barbara Streisand and and later with Gloria Estafan.
Few fans would deny her biggest hits would be “Love to Love You Baby“ and “I Feel Love”. Some may remember favorites such as “She Works Hard For The Money” , “On The Radio” and “Hot Stuff”.
In her personal life, Donna was first married to German and fellow performer Helmut Sommer and later to musician Bruce Sudano. Donna had 3 daughters who survive her. She moved to Nashville, Tennessee in the mid 1990′s. She had a life long love for country music. Hard to believe, but she even co-wrote a song with country legend Dolly Parton called “Starting Over Again”. Donna returned to her gospel roots later in life and was quoted as saying “We’re not just one-sided beings. We tend to nurture the flesh, but it’s OK to nurture the soul too.” She was a devoted Christian and spent her later years painting. Some of her works sold for several thousands. She has left us with many wonderful memories and it is safe to say Donna died with a wealth of wonderful memories herself. A beautiful woman. A beautiful life well lived-no one would deny.
Rest In Peace Donna…or better yet, stir up some disco up there and we’ll see you rocking the clouds!
LIFE WORK AND AWARDS:
3 Grammys and 1 Oscar;
Best Original Song Oscar, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1978, for “Last Dance”; Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Grammy, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1979, for “Last Dance”; Best Female Rock Vocal Performance Grammy, 1980, for “Hot Stuff”; Best Inspirational Performance Grammy, 1984, for “He’s a Rebel,” and 1985, for “Forgive Me”; (with Giorgio Moroder) Best Dance Recording Grammy, 1998, for “Carry On.”
- Love to Love You, Baby, Oasis, 1975.
- A Love Trilogy, Oasis, 1976.
- Four Seasons of Love, Casablanca, 1976.
- I Remember Yesterday, Casablanca, 1977.
- Live and More, Casablanca, 1978.
- Bad Girls, Casablanca, 1979.
- On the Radio–Greatest Hits, Volumes I and II, Casablanca, 1979.
- The Wanderer, Geffen, 1980.
- Donna Summer, Geffen, 1982.
- She Works Hard for the Money, Polygram, 1983.
- All Systems Go, Geffen, 1987.
- Another Place and Time, Atlantic, 1989.
- Christmas Spirit, Mercury, 1994.
- VH1 Presents Donna Summer: Live & More–Encore!, Epic, 1999.