An artist who once defined the ‘70s pop music generation as the “Queen of Disco,” Donna Summer has become one of the world’s leading singers and songwriters. The career of the five-time Grammy-winner spans a range of musical genres from R&B and rock to inspirational and dance.
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Born Donna Gaines to a large family in Boston, she developed an early interest in music. From the age of eight, Summer sang in church choirs and city-wide choruses, and by her early twenties she began performing in the musical theatre in Germany. While there, she won parts in such highly-acclaimed shows as Hair, Showboat, Godspell, and Porgy and Bess. She also met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte who produced her first single, Hostage, which became a hit in the Netherlands, France and Belgium.
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 new disco genre. Love to Love You Baby paved the way for such Grammy-award winning hits as Hot Stuff as well as the Academy-award winning theme song Last Dance from the film Thank God It’s Friday, which remains a shining moment of Summer’s career.
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 with The Wanderer. In the years that followed, Summer collaborated with writers and producers such as Quincy Jones, Michael Omartian and England’s Stock Aitkan & Waterman and produced a steady stream of hits from the uplifting State of Independence to the anthem She Works Hard For The Money.
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 album 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. 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 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 10 of Summer’s top ten pop singles as well as three new songs.
Ms. Summer has earned 5 Grammy awards, 3 consecutive #1 platinum albums (she is the only artist ever to accomplish this), 11 gold albums, 4 #1 singles, 2 platinum singles, and 12 gold singles.
In addition to her recording and performing career, Donna Summer is an accomplished visual artist whose work has been shown at exhibitions and galleries in every major U.S. city and in Japan in a special exhibition sponsored by Steven Spielberg. In 2003, Random House published her first book, “Ordinary Girl,” co-authored with Marc Eliot. Donna Summer is a consummate artist and songwriter with a vocal range exceeded only by her diverse talents in musical and other artistic genres.
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