Donna Summer

Missing image
Donna Summer on the cover of her 1993 collection The Donna Summer Anthology

Donna Summer (born LaDonna Andrea Gaines on December 31, 1948) is an American pop music singer best known for a string of disco music hits in the 1970s that earned her the title "Queen of Disco".

Summer was a rarity in the 1970s disco scene because her career began before the disco explosion and continued afterward. Even though she is one of the best-known artists of the disco era, Summer has covered different genres including R&B, rock and roll and inspirational music, earning her Grammy Awards in those categories. Her work is still critically acclaimed and remains one of the few disco artists accepted by modern rock critics.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Summer began performing in her church's choir. She later joined a rock group called the Crow. A few months before graduating from high school, Summer dropped out and joined the German productions of Hair, Godspell, and Show Boat over the next few years. She eventually settled in Europe, joining the Viennese Folk Opera and participating in numerous musicals.

After resettling in Munich, Germany, Summer married Helmut Sommer ("Summer" is an anglicization of his last name) and did various musical jobs in studios and theaters for several years. In 1971, Summer released "Sally Go 'Round the Roses", her first solo recording. The single was unsuccessful, however, and Summer had to wait until 1974 to launch a solo career. In that year, she, Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte (who met assisting Three Dog Night in the studio) worked together to produce "The Hostage", a European hit. Lady of the Night, Summer's first LP, was released in 1974 with moderate success in Europe.

Summer recorded "Love to Love You Baby", which was a huge European hit. Casablanca Records soon began distributing the album in the United States, and it became a sensation there as well. This was followed by an album, Love to Love You Baby, critically acclaimed then and now, notable for including a seventeen-minute version of the title track. This established a pattern that made Summer unusual in the disco world: she focused just as much, if not more, on full-length albums instead of singles.

Continuing to work with Moroder and Bellotte, Love Trilogy (1976) and the concept album Seasons of Love (1976) were hits, though not as popular as Love to Love You Baby. I Remember Yesterday (1977) included the memorable hit single "I Feel Love", the first hit song recorded with an entirely synthesized backing track. This song, which became a major hit, is enormously influential in the development of disco, electronica and techno music, thanks to Moroder's innovative production.

Once Upon a Time was released soon after I Remember Yesterday; it was another concept album, concerning the fairy tale of Cinderella. After acting (and releasing a Grammy-winning song on the soundtrack) in the comedy Thank God It's Friday, Summer released a live album Live and More, which became another smash hit album and included a cover of "MacArthur Park". Summer's songwriting was showcased on Bad Girls (1979), which included a hit single in the title track, as well as "Hot Stuff", which won Summer the Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocalist. When a greatest hits album, On the Radio, became a #1 hit, Summer was the first artist with three consecutive #1 double albums.

Summer then decided to leave Casablanca and sign to Geffen Records, then just starting up. Her first Geffen album was The Wanderer (1980), which included more rock and roll and R&B influences. The follow-up album, I'm a Rainbow, was not released until 1996 because Geffen did not think it was good enough. Instead, Geffen had Summer drop Moroder and Bellotte, her longtime songwriters, and paired her with music sensation Quincy Jones on the self-titled album Donna Summer, which produced the dance hit "Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)", a Top 40 hit "Woman in Me" and the Vangelis penned "State of Independence", which became a huge hit in Europe with its New Age feel and star chorus that included Christopher Cross and Michael Jackson. This song was the inspiration for Quincy Jones to later create with Michael Jackson "We Are the World".

Summer continued her work with Geffen, later releasing the smash hit She Works Hard for the Money, which included a well-remembered hit in the title track.

Summer's career was not without controversy. In the 1980s, the singer, a born-again Christian, was accused of making comments critical of homosexuality, thus alienating a large part of her fan base. However, Summer has often said in interviews that she never made the homophobic remarks attributed to her. Although her career began to slow down in the mid-1980s, it was revamped in 1989 with her Stock Aitken Waterman collaboration Another Place and Time album. The first single, "This Time I Know It's for Real", became a huge hit, first in Europe and later in the United States, and brought her back to the top of the charts.A new remix of "I Feel Love" was a big UK hit all over again in 1995.

In 1991, Summer released the ill-fated LP Mistaken Identity, which included songs criticizing racism (the title track) and the first Gulf War ("Let There Be Peace"). Throughout the 1990s, Summer has continued to work; she recorded a duet with Liza Minnelli ("Does He Love You?") and produced numerous dance hits such as "Melody of Love", which became the Billboard number one dance hit of the year; "I Will Go with You", the dance version of the beautiful Andrea Bocelli song "Con Te Partiṛ"; and "You're So Beautiful", a club anthem she co-wrote with legendary DJ Tony Moran. As well as her #1 U.S dance chart hit "Love is a Healer. In 2003, Donna Summer released a greatest-hits compilation called The Journey, which rocketed into the UK Top 10 in the following year, thanks to her appearance on ITV1 show Discomania.

Summer added to her credits in October 2004, when she performed "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch at Game 2 of the 2004 World Series at Boston's Fenway Park.

As of 2005, Summer has received 5 Grammy Awards and 6 American Music Awards, as well as 24 gold and platinum certifications in the United States and 19 gold and silver certifications in Great Britain. Also in the summer of 2005 Donna will tour for the first time in 5 years and opened her first Official Web site Over 100 million copies of her records have been sold worldwide.

Today, Summer and her family make their home in the Conejo Valley in Southern California.



Notes: US Top data: for singles prior to 1984 from Pop Singles, for singles after 1984 from The Billboard Hot 100, for albums prior to 1984 from Pop Albums; for albums after 1984 from The Billboard 200; UK Top data for singles and albums is from UK Singles Chart.

Main albums

  • 1974 Lady of the Night
  • 1975 Love to Love You Baby (US Sales: 1.9 mil.) (#6 R&B US,#16 UK)
  • 1976 A Love Trilogy (US Sales: 1.1 mil.) (#21 US)
  • 1976 Four Seasons of Love (US Sales: 1 mil.) (#29 US)
  • 1977 I Remember Yesterday (US Sales: 2.7 mil.) (#18 US,#3 UK)
  • 1977 Once Upon a Time (US Sales: 1.3 mil.) (#26 US,#24 UK)
  • 1978 Live and More (US Sales: 4 mil.) (#1 US,#16 UK)
  • 1979 Bad Girls (US Sales: 8 mil.) (#1 US,#23 UK)
  • 1980 Walk Away (US Sales: 0.9 mil.) (#50 US)
  • 1980 The Wanderer (US Sales: 3.2 mil.) (#13 US)
  • 1982 Donna Summer (US Sales: 2.2 mil.) (#20 US,#13 UK)
  • 1983 She Works Hard for the Money (US Sales: 6 mil.) (#9 US,#28 UK)
  • 1984 Cats Without Claws (US Sales: 2.5 mil.) (#40 US)
  • 1985 The Summer Collection (#127 US)
  • 1987 The Dance Collection
  • 1987 All Systems Go (US Sales: 2.5 mil.) (#122 US)
  • 1989 Another Place and Time (US Sales: 4 mil.) (#53 US,#17 UK)
  • 1990 The Best of Donna Summer (#24 UK)
  • 1991 Mistaken Identity (US Sales: 1.5 mil.) (#72 US)
  • 1993 Anthology
  • 1994 Christmas Spirit
  • 1996 I'm a Rainbow (originally set for release in 1981)
  • 1999 Live and More... Encore (US Sales: 4 mil.) (#43 US)


  • 1978 Greatest Hits (#4 UK)
  • 1979 Greatest Hits On the Radio Vol. I & II (US Sales: 5 mil.) (#1 US,#24 UK)
  • 1994 Endless Summer (US Sales: 1.5 mil.) (#42 US,#27 UK)
  • 1998 Greatest Hits
  • 2003 The Journey: The Very Best of Donna Summer (US Sales: 0.9 mil.) (#111 US,#6 UK)
  • 2004 Gold


  • 1971 Sally Go 'Round the Roses
  • 1975 Love to Love you Baby (US Sales: 1.3 mil.) (#2 US,#4 UK)
  • 1975 Need a Man Blues (#37 US)
  • 1976 Could Be Magic (US Sales: 0.4 mil.) (#52 US,#40 UK)
  • 1976 Four Seasons of Love (#1 Club US)
  • 1976 Try Me, I Know We Can Make It (US Sales: 0.7 mil.) (#80 US,#1 Disco US)
  • 1976 Wasted (#1 Disco US)
  • 1977 Down Deep Inside (#30 US,#5 UK)
  • 1977 I Remember Yesterday (#14 UK)
  • 1977 Can't We Just Sit Down (US Sales: 0.6 mil.)(#20 R&B US)
  • 1977 I Feel Love (US Sales: 1.4 mil.) (#6 US,#1 UK)
  • 1977 Love's Unkind (US Sales: 0.4 mil.)(#6 US)
  • 1977 Once Upon a Time (#1 Club US)
  • 1977 Spring Affair (US Sales: 1 mil.)(#58 US)
  • 1977 Theme from "The Deep" (#3 Club US)
  • 1977 Winter Melody (#43 US,#27 UK)
  • 1978 I Love You (US Sales: 0.8 mil.) (#37 US)
  • 1978 Last Dance (US Sales: 1.2 mil.) (#3 US)
  • 1978 Mac Arthur Park (US Sales: 2.8 mil.) (#1 US,#5 UK)
  • 1978 Rumour Has It (#53 US)
  • 1978 Back In Love Again (#29 UK)
  • 1979 Bad Girls (US Sales: 3.2 mil.) (#1 US,#14 UK)
  • 1979 Dim All the Nights (US Sales: 0.9 mil.) (#2 US,#29 UK)
  • 1979 SunSet People (#37 US,#1 Hot Dance US)
  • 1979 Enough Is Enough (US Sales: 1.8 mil.) (#1 US)
  • 1979 Heaven Knows (US Sales: 0.7 mil.) (#4 US,#34 UK)
  • 1979 Hot Stuff (US Sales: 3.2 mil.) (#1 US,#11 UK)
  • 1979 No More Tears (with Barbra Streisand) (#1 US, #3 UK)
  • 1980 On the Radio (US Sales: 0.7 mil.) (#5 US,#32 UK)
  • 1980 Walk Away (Us Sales: 1.2 mil.)(#36 US)
  • 1980 The Wanderer (US Sales: 1.2 mil.)(#3 US)
  • 1981 I'm a Rainbow (#33 US)
  • 1981 Cold Love (US Sales: 0.9 mil.)(#33 US)
  • 1981 Who Do You Think You're Foolin' (#40 US)
  • 1982 Love Is In Control (US Sales: 1.4 mil.)(#10 US,#18 UK)
  • 1982 State of Independence (#41 US,#14 UK)
  • 1982 I Feel Love (remix) (#21 UK)
  • 1983 She Works HArd For the Money (US Sales: 3.8 mil.) (#3 US,#25 UK)
  • 1983 Unconditional Love (US Sales: 0.7 mil.) (#43 US,#14 UK)
  • 1983 The Woman In Me (#33 US)
  • 1984 Cats Without Claws (#43 US)
  • 1984 Love Has a Mind of Its Own (#70 US)
  • 1984 Supernatural Love (US Sales: 0.7mil.)(#75 US)
  • 1984 There Goes My Baby (US Sales: 1.2 mil.) (#21 US)
  • 1987 All Systems Go (#48 US)
  • 1987 Dinner with Gershwin (US Sales: 1.4 mil.) (#48 US,#13 UK)
  • 1987 Only The Full Survives (#85 US)
  • 1989 Breakaway (#31 Hot Dance US)
  • 1989 Love's About Change My Heart (#85 US,#20 UK)
  • 1989 When Love Takes Over You (#85 US)
  • 1989 This Time I Know It's For Real (US Sales: 2.4 mil.) (#7 US,#3 UK)
  • 1989 I Don't Wanna Get Hurt (US Sales: 0.9 mil.) (#7 US,#7 UK)
  • 1991 When Love Cries (US Sales: 1.2 mil.) (#77 US)
  • 1991 Friend Unknown (#76 US)
  • 1991 Work That Magic (#77 US)
  • 1994 Melody of Love (US Sales: 1.9 mil.) (#1 Hot Dance US,#21 UK)
  • 1994 Any Way At All
  • ? The Power Of The One (#41 US)
  • 1995 I Feel Love (remix) (#8 UK)
  • 1996 State Of Independence (remix) (#13 UK)
  • 1997 Carry On (#25 Hot Dance US)
  • 1999 I Will Go With You (US Sales: 1.1mil.)(#79 US)
  • 1999 Love Is the Healer (US Sales: 1.2 mil.) (#1 Hot Dance US)
  • 2000 The Power of One (#2 Hot Dance US)
  • 2004 Dream-A-Lot's Theme (#20 Hot Dance US)
  • 2004 You're So Beautiful (Ultimate Club Mix) (#5 Hot Dance US)

Other Meanings

  • Donna Summer is also the recording name of Jason Forrest, an experimental and breakcore musician. He is a fan of his more famous namesake's music.

See also

External links

nl:Donna Summer pt:Donna Summer sv:Donna Summer


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