American rhythm-and-blues singer-songwriter An international star for over four decades, Summer was the "Queen of Disco" from the mid- 1970's into the 1980's. Her unique combination of electronica/techno, disco, rhythm-and-blues, rock, funk, gospel, and soul music led to groundbreaking and bestselling recordings, which earned the top music awards.
Born: December 31, 1948; Boston, Massachusetts
Donna Summer was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines in Boston, Massachusetts. Her father Andrew was a building superintendent and electrician, while her mother Maryworked in a factory. At the age of eight, the musically giftedSummer began singing in church choirs. In her teens, Summer sang with Crow, a Boston rock band. In 1968, she moved to Munich to join the German production of Hair. She also performed with the Vienna FolkOpera and won roles in musical theater, including Godspell (1970), Show Boat (1927), and Porgy and Bess (1935). Summer married actor Helmut Sommor in 1972, and their daughter Mimi was born in 1973. They divorced, but she took "Summer" as her professional name. Working as a backup singer, she met producer-songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. They produced a single, "The Hostage", which was a hit in France, Holland, and Belgium. In 1975, they released the single "Love to Love You Baby", which established Summer as an international star. The team produced numerous other award-winning hits. In 1980 Summer married singer Bruce Sudano. Their daughter Brooklyn was born in 1981, and another daughter, Amanda, was born in 1982. A new album, Mistaken Identity, was released in 1991, and Summer's autobiography, Ordinary Girl, was published in 2003.
In May, 2008, Summer released Crayons, her first album of new material in seventeen years. The Music Before becoming a disco superstar in the mid- 1970's, Summer sang gospel and rock music in the United States and then performed in European musical-theater productions. With her amazing voice, versatility, and remarkable songwriting abilities, Summer was able to have an impact on pop music into the twenty-first century. "Love to Love You Baby". Released in 1975, this was Summer's first hit, and it helped bring the emerging, subculture disco genre into the mainstream. It also established Summer as the queen of disco. Originally, Summer, Moroder, and Bellotte had recorded the song as a three-and-a-half-minute single. However, at the urging of Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart, the team remixed the track into a seventeen-minute epic, perfect for dance clubs. Thus the 12-inch extended remix was invented. "Love to Love You Baby" featured a pulsating dance beat, a syncopated bass line, steamy groans and sighing, heavy breathing, and highpitched murmuring. The overt, unabashed sensuality of the song prompted the British Broadcasting Corporation to ban it. "I Feel Love". Summer's 1977 concept album, I Remember Yesterday included the futuristic song "I Feel Love".
While previous disco recordings had used acoustic orchestral music for backing tracks, "I Feel Love" had a totally synthesized backing track. "I Feel Love" was Summer's second hit song, reaching number six in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and number one in the United Kingdom's singles chart. The song featured a driving, hypnotic, and robotic bass line with an off-center counter-rhythm. The pervasive electronic beat was immediately imitated in other disco music and influenced the development of electronica/techno music in the 1980's and 1990's. For her recording of "I Feel Love", Summer was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2004. "Last Dance". In the 1978 film Thank God It's Friday, Summer sang her signature song, "Last Dance". She played the role of aspiring singer Nicole Sims, whose song repeatedly asked the listener to dance the last dance, and take the "last chance for love". With a slow introduction and a slow middle, it was one of the first disco songs to use slow-tempo sections. Summer used this format in subsequent hits, such as "Dim All the Lights", "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)", and "On the Radio".
One of Summer's personal favorites, "Last Dance" won an AcademyAward, a Golden Globe, and aGrammy. "She Works Hard for the Money". Released in 1983, this hit song became a feminist anthem. Summer appeared as a waitress on the cover and sang the praises of the working woman, who labored long hours for low pay. She also produced a music video that concluded with an empowering dance in the street by women of various occupations. This was the first music video by a black artist to be extensively promoted on MTV. In 1999, the fast-food restaurant McDonald's used the song for a television campaign but with a variation on the lyrics. The commercials featured Summer singing, "You Get More for the Money". Crayons. In 2008 Summer released the longawaited Crayons. As track four proclaimed, "The Queen is back!" The album is an eclectic mix of twelve songs of different "colors", sounds, styles, and ethnic traditions.
For instance, "Crayons" has a reggae influence, and "Driving Down Brazil" has a Latin/jazz beat. The disco-styled, "I'm a Fire" was the first single from the album and reached number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club play charts. Crayons reflects Summer's unique combination of different styles and world cultural experiences. Musical Legacy The legendary Summer achieved many firsts. She was the first artist to earn three consecutive number-one platinum double albums and to win the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance (Female), in 1979 for "Hot Stuff". In 1997, she received the first Grammy for Best Dance Recording ("Carry On"). Summer was also the first woman to have four number-one singles in one year. The only artist to have had a number-one dance hit in every decade beginning in the 1970's, Summer has sold more than 130 million records worldwide. Summer changed music history with "Love to Love You Baby", which brought disco into the mainstream. She has influenced generations of artists. "I Feel Love" inspired Deborah Harry's "Heart of Glass" and Diana Ross's "Love Hangover". Madonna sang "I Feel Love" on a live tour. Beyonc? incorporated "Love to Love You Baby" into one of her songs. Summer's energetic fusion of dance and vocals influenced Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Cowritten with her husband, Bruce Sudano, "Starting Over Again" was a hit song for both Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire.