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Donna Summer was a singer-songwriter who became the "Queen of Disco" in the 1970s with such hits as "Love to Love You Baby," "I Feel Love" and "Last Dance."
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Donna Summer, the Disco Queen, is lauded for both her singing and songwriting by DIck Clark, Giorgio Moroder and others.
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Producers liked Summer's demo version so much that they decided to make it her song instead. The final version released in the United States, an unprecedented 17 minutes long, featured Summer's tantalizingly soft vocals and sensual moaning—sounds so suggestive, in fact, that many radio stations initially refused to play the song. Nevertheless, the path-breaking disco track became an overnight sensation,
skyrocketing to No. 2 on the U.S. singles chart and serving as the titular track of her second album. Building on the success of "Love to Love You Baby," Summer released two albums in 1976: A Love Trilogy and Four Seasons of Love, both of which were enormous successes. In 1977, Summer released two more hit albums, I Remember Yesterday and Once Upon a Time, and in 1978 her single "Last Dance" from the soundtrack of Thank God It's Friday won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Summer's 1978 live album, entitled Live and More, became her first to reach No. 1 on the Billboard album charts and likewise featured her first No. 1 single in "MacArthur Park." A year later, she achieved the biggest commercial success of her career with the album Bad Girls, which instantly spawned two No. 1 singles, "Bad Girls" and "Hot Stuff," making Summer the first female artist to score three No. 1 songs in a single calendar year. As the 1970s gave way to the 1980s, Summer briefly abandoned disco to release two R&B albums: The Wanderer (1980) and Donna Summer (1982). Returning to dance music in 1983, she scored her biggest hit of the decade with "She Works Hard for the Money." The title track, based on Summer's feelings upon encountering a sleeping bathroom attendant at a restaurant, has become something of a feminist anthem.
By the late 1980s, Summer's popularity began to wane and she achieved only one more Top 10 hit during the decade, 1989's "This Time I Know It's For Real" off the album Another Place in Time.
Summer released only two albums during the 1990s, Mistaken Identity (1991) and Christmas Songs (1994), neither of which made much of an impact. During these years, the multi-talented Summer also branched out into painting, holding several exhibitions per year and enjoying both critical acclaim and commercial success. She also became embroiled in controversy during the early 1990s, when New York magazine reported that Summer had made homophobic remarks and called the AIDS epidemic punishment for the sins of homosexuals. Summer vociferously denied making any such comments and sued the magazine for libel. The case was settled out of court. Summer released her first album in 14 years, Crayons, in 2008 to positive reviews and decent sales.
Summer married singer-songwriter Bruce Sudano in 1980, and they had two children.
Summer died on May 17, 2012 at age 63, after a years-long battle with cancer.
Known as the "Queen of Disco," Summer will be remembered as perhaps the greatest singer in disco history. But she was so much more: a vocalist of incredible range and power whose voice was equally at home in German-language show tunes, racy disco dance tracks and powerful gospel ballads.
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Women became the center of the 1970s mainstream, from The Runaways and Heart to Fleetwood Mac and Donna Summer. The gains of the feminist movement throughout the 70s enabled women working in all areas of the music industry to assume more control over their careers.
Influential Female Musicians of the 1970s 6 people in this group
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When musicians land big fame, there typically comes a moment of reinvention in which the "rock star" identity is born. This new persona often requires a new name, a way to differentiate between the private and public versions of themselves. Musical monikers take different forms, from the simple, last-name changes aimed at boosting celebrity appeal—like Steven Tyler—to the glamorized version of a childhood nickname—like Jay-Z. Musicians' nicknames and aliases tend to take on an identity all their own over time, often becoming as full of personality as the artists they represent.
Musical Monikers 109 people in this group