Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is Donna Summer's well known song, "Last Dance."

Although there were a lot of queens affiliated with disco, none were embraced to the degree of Donna Summer. Even though she wasn't the first musician to record a single specifically for the dance clubs, her 1976 hit single "Love to Love You Baby" helped introduce disco to a wider audience, and established her as the first diva of disco.

Donna Summer was born Donna Gaines in 1948. Although she was raised in an extremely religious household in the Mission Hill section of Boston, she dropped out of high school to pursue a career in musical theater. After being introduced to the Italian electro-pop arranger and musical producer, Georgio Moroder, she left for Germany to appear in his overseas production of the popular musical "Hair."

During her stay in Germany she met and married Helmut Sommer and in 1975 recorded the 17-minute updated version of the French ballad "Love to Love You Baby" (translated in English). The song took the sexual themes of the original tune right over the top, creating a level of eroticism previously unknown in popular music. Moroder created the synthesized monotonous rhythm, a staple of disco, on a drum machine then brought Summer into the studio to record the vocal track, "Ahhhhh, Love to Love You Baby."

If the breathy manner in which the song's single line was delivered wasn't steamy enough to get audience's attention, undoubtedly the inclusion of Summer's twenty-two simulated orgasms were. In early 1976, the song climaxed at number two on the charts establishing the duo as one of the major forces in the creation of slick, elaborately overproduced, electronic disco rhythms.

Summer's vocal talent went beyond many of the one hit wonder bands that surfaced in the mid-1970's disco era. From 1975 to 1980, she landed hits with "I Feel Love," "MacArthur Park," "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls," and "Last Dance," from the 1978 disco film, "Thank God It's Friday."

In 1979, she recorded a duet with Barbara Streisand, at which point she attempted to abandon her sultry disco goddess image. Unfortunately, the pressures of fame and fortune prevailed and rather than continue in the music industry she became a born again Christian. To the shock of her loyal fans, many of whom were gay, she formally announced her disapproval of homosexuality and expressed regret and deep embarrassment for the music she created.

With the renewed interest in disco in through the 1990s, Donna Summer has made attempts to reintroduce herself to unreceptive audiences, however, her music remains as one of the defining sounds of the disco era. As one of the few disco artists to receive a Grammy award, she achieved three number-one albums, eight top-ten singles, four Grammy's, and was the financial backbone of disco's leading record label, Casablanca. Her work also had a strong influence on much of today's techno music. Donna Summer met an untimely death at 63 years of age.

Page author A.E. & C.F.