Friday, 18 May 2012

Donna Summer: 1948 - 2012 (R.I.P )

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LaDonna Adrian Gaines (December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012), known by the stage name Donna Summer, was an American singer-songwriter who gained prominence during the Disco era of the 1970s. She had a Mezzo Soprano vocal range, and was a five-time Grammy Award winner. Summer was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach number one on the U.S. Billboard chart, and she also charted four number-one singles in the United States within a 13-month period.
Donna Summer sadly passed away yesterday. The Associated Press reports that she died in the morning at her home in Key West at age 63 following a battle with cancer. TheBradenton Herald quotes "Sarasota County records" stating that she lived in Englewood, Florida at the time of her death. The reference did not state the place of her death.
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Summer was born Ladonna Adrian Gaines on December 31, 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts to parents Andrew and Mary Gaines and was one of seven children. She and her family were raised in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester. Her father, Andrew Gaines, was a butcher, and her mother Mary, was a schoolteacher. Summer's mother later recalled that from the time she could talk, Summer would often sing: "She literally loved to sing. She used to go through the house singing, singing. She sang for breakfast and for lunch and for supper."
Summer's performance debut occurred at church when she was ten, when she replaced a vocalist that had failed to show up. Her priest invited Summer to perform, judging from her small frame and voice that she would be an "amusing spectacle", but instead Summer's voice recalled a voice older than her years and frame. Summer herself recalled that as she sang, "I started crying, everybody else started crying. It was quite an amazing moment in my life and at some point after I heard my voice came out I felt like God was saying to me 'Donna, you're going to be very, very famous' and I knew from that day on that I would be famous."
Summer later attended Boston's Jeremiah E. Burke High School, where she performed in school musicals and was considered popular. She was also something of a troublemaker, skipping home to attend parties, circumventing her parents' strict curfew. In 1967, just weeks before graduation, Summer left for New York where she was a member of the blues-rock band, Crow. After they were passed by every record label, they agreed to break up. Summer stayed in New York and auditioned for a role in the counterculture musical, Hair. When Melba Moore was cast in the part, Summer agreed to take the role in the Munich production of the show. She moved to Munich after getting her parents' reluctant approval.
Summer remained in Munich and later learned fluent German. She participated in the musicals Ich Bin Ich (the German version of The Nobody Knows), Godspell and Show Boat. Within three years, she moved to Vienna, Austria and joined the Viennese Folk Opera. She briefly toured with an ensemble vocal group called FamilyTree, the creation of producer Guenter "Yogi" Lauke. In 1971, Summer released her first single, a cover of The Jaynetts'' "Sally Go Round The Roses", from a one-off European deal with Decca Records. In 1972, she issued the single, "If You Walkin' Alone" on Philips. In 1974, she married Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer and had a daughter, Mimi, the following year. Citing marital problems caused by her affair with German artist (and future live-in boyfriend) Peter Mühldorfer, she divorced Helmuth. She kept his last name, but Anglicised it to "Summer". She provided backing vocals on producer-keyboardist Veit Marvos on his 1972 Ariola records release, Nice To See You, credited as "Gayn Pierre". Several subsequent singles included Summer performing with the group, but she often denied singing on any of the Marvos releases. The name "Gayn Pierre" was also used by Donna while performing in Godspell with Helmuth Sommer during 1972.
Donna Summer,The Best Of Donna Summer: The Christmas Collection - Sealed,USA,Deleted,CD ALBUM,485839
While singing background for the hit-making 1970s trio Three Dog Night, Summer met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. She eventually signed a deal with the European label Groovy Records and issued her first album, Lady of the Night, in 1974. The album was not released in America, but found some limited European success on the strength of the song "The Hostage", which reached number one in Belgium and number two in the Netherlands.
In 1975, Summer approached Moroder with an idea for a song she and Bellotte were working on for another singer. She had come up with the lyric "love to love you, baby". Moroder was interested in developing the new sound that was becoming popular and used Summer's lyric to develop the song. Moroder persuaded Summer to record what was to be a demo track for another performer. She later said that she had thought of how the song might sound if Marilyn Munroe had sung it and began cooing the lyrics. To get into the mood of recording the song, she requested Moroder turn off the lights while they sat on a sofa with him inducing her moans and groans. After hearing playback of the song, Moroder felt Summer's version should actually be released.
The song was then sent to Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart in hopes of getting an American release. Bogart informed Summer and Moroder he would release the song (now called "Love to love you baby") but requested that Moroder produce a longer version for discothèques. Moroder, Bellotte, and Summer returned with a 17 minute version and Casablanca signed Summer and released the single in November 1975. The shorter version of the single was promoted to radio stations while clubs regularly played the 17 minute version (the longer version would also appear on the album). Casablanca became one of the first record labels to popularize the 12" single format. By early 1976, "Love To Love You Baby" had reached No2 on the US Billboard Hot 100, while the parent album of the same name sold over a million copies. The song generated controversy due to Summer's moans and groans and some American and European radio stations, including the BBC, refused to play it. "Love to Love You Baby" found chart success in several European countries, and made the Top 5 in the United Kingdom despite the BBC ban. Other upcoming singles included "Try Me, I Know We can Make It", US No80; "Could it be magic", US No52; "Spring Affair", US No58; and "Winter Melody", US No43. The subsequent albums Love Trilogy and Four Seasons of Love both went gold in the US.
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In 1977, Donna Summer released the concept album I Remember Yesterday. This album included her second top ten single, "I Feel Love", which reached number six in the US and number one in the UK. Another concept album, also released in 1977, was Once Upon a Time, a double album which told of a modern-day Cinderella "rags to riches" story through the elements of orchestral disco and ballads. This album would also attain gold status. In 1978, Summer released her version of the Jimmy Webb ballad, "Macarthur Park", which became her first US number one hit. The song was featured on Summer's first live album, Live and More, which also became her first album to hit number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, and went platinum selling over a million copies. Other studio tracks included the top ten hit, "Heaven Knows", which featured the group Brooklyn Dreams accompanying her on background and Joe 'Bean' Esposito singing alongside her on the verses. Summer would later be romantically involved with Brooklyn Dreams singer Bruce Saduno and the couple married two years after the song's release. Also in 1978, Summer acted in the film, Thank God it's Friday, playing a singer determined to perform at a hot disco club. The film met modest success, but a song from the film, titled "Last Dance", reached number three on the Hot 100 and resulted in Summer winning her first Grammy Award. Its writer, Paul Jabara, won an Academy Award for the composition.
In 1979, Summer performed at the world-televised Music for Unicef concept, joining contemporaries such as Abba, Olivia Newton-John, the Bee Gees, Andy Gibb, Rod Stewart, John Denver, Earth, Wind and Fire, Rita Coolidge and Kris Kristofferson for an hour's TV special that raised funds and awareness for the world's children. Artists donated royalties of certain songs, some in perpetuity, to benefit the cause.
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Donna Summer began work on her next project with Moroder and Bellotte, Bad Girls, an album that had been in production for nearly two years. Summer based the whole concept on prostitution (revisiting the theme for 1974's 'Lady Of The Night'), even dressing as a hooker herself on the cover art. The album became a huge success, spawning the number one hits "Hot Stuff" and the title track and the number two "Dim All The Nights". With "MacArthur Park", "Hot Stuff", "Bad Girls", and the Barbara Striesand duet "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)", Summer achieved four number one hits within a thirteen month period. Those aforementioned songs, along with "Heaven Knows", "Last Dance", "Dim All The Lights", and "On the Radio" (from her upcoming double-album) would give her eight US Top 5 singles within a two year period. "Hot Stuff" later won her a second Grammy in the Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, the first time the category was included. That year, Summer played eight sold-out nights at the Universal Ampitheatre in Los Angeles.
Summer released On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes 1&2, her first (international) greatest hits set in 1979. The double album reached number one in the US, becoming her third consecutive number one album. A new song from the compilation, "On the Radio", reached the US top five, selling over a million copies in the U.S. alone.
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After the release of the greatest hits album, Summer wanted to branch out into other musical styles in addition to disco, which led to tensions between her and Casablanca Records. Sensing that they could no longer come to terms, Summer and the label parted ways in 1980, and she signed with Geffen Records, the new label started by David Geffen.
Summer's first release on Geffen Records was The Wanderer, which replaced the disco sound of Summer's previous releases with more of the burgeoning New Wave sound and elements of rock, such as the material being recorded at this time by Pat Benatar. The album achieved gold status in the US, and the title track (released as the first single) peaked at No3 in the US, though subsequent singles were only moderate hits.
Summer's projected second Geffen release, entitled I'm a Rainbow, was shelved by Geffen Records (though two of the album's songs would surface in soundtracks of the 1980s films Fast Times at Ridgemount and Flashdance). Summer reluctantly parted company with Moroder after seven years working together as Geffen had recruited Quincy Jones to produce her next album, 1982's Donna Summer. The album had taken a lengthy six months to record. The album's first single, "Love is in Control Finger on the Trigger", became an American top ten hit on the Hot 100, followed by more moderate hits "State of Independence"(No41 pop) and "The Woman in Me"(No33 pop). Problems then increased between Summer and Geffen Records after they were notified by Polygram Records, Summer's former label Casablanca was by then a wholly owned subsidiary, that she needed to deliver them one more album to fulfill her contract with them. Summer delivered the album, She works hard for the Money, and Polygram released it on its Mercury imprint in 1983. The title song became a hit reaching number three on the US Hot 100, and would provide Summer with a Grammy nomination. The album also featured the reggae-flavored UK Top 20 hit "Unconditional Love", which featured the British group Musical Youth who were riding high from the success of their single "Pass the Dutchie". The third US single, "Love Has A Mind of Its Own", reached the top forty of the Billboard R&B chart. The album itself was certified gold.
In late 1984, with her obligation to Polygram complete, Summer returned on Geffen Records with her next release. Geffen, wanting to keep the momentum going, enlisted She Works Hard For the Money's producer Michael Omartian to produce Cats Without Claws. The album, however, was not as successful as She Works Hard For the Money and failed to attain gold status of 500,000 copies sold in the US, becoming her first album since her 1974 debut not to do so. It did include a moderate hit in "There Goes My Baby", which peaked at No21.
In the mid 1980s, Summer was embroiled in a controversy. She had allegedly made anti-gay remarks regarding the then-relatively new disease, AIDS, which as a result had a significantly negative impact on her career and saw thousands of her records being returned to her record company by angered fans. Summer, by this time a born-again Christian, was alleged to have said that AIDS was a punishment from God for the immoral lifestyles of homosexuals. However, she denied that she had ever made any such comment and, in a letter to the AIDS campaign group ACT UP in 1989, she said that it was "a terrible misunderstanding. I was unknowingly protected by those around me from the bad press and hate letters... If I have caused you pain, forgive me." She went on to apologize for the delay in refuting the rumours and closed her letter with Bible quotes (from Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians).
Also in 1989, Summer told The Advocate magazine that "A couple of the people I write with are gay, and they have been ever since I met them. What people want to do with their bodies is their personal preference." A couple of years later she filed a lawsuit against New York magazine when it reprinted the rumours as fact just as she was about to release her album Mistaken Identity in 1991.
In 1987, Donna Summer returned with the album All Systems Go, which did not sell well, becoming her second consecutive album not to achieve gold status. It featured the single "Dinner with Gershwin" (written by Brenda Russell), which was only a minor US hit, though it peaked at No13 in the UK. The album's title track, "All Systems Go", was released only in the UK where it peaked at No54.
For Summer's next album, Geffen Records hired the British hit production team of Stock, Aitken Waterman (or SAW), who had enjoyed incredible success by writing and producing for such acts as Kylie Mynogue, Dead or Alive, Banarama, and Rick Astley among others. However, Geffen decided not to release the album, entitled Another Time and Place, and Summer and Geffen Records parted ways in 1988. The album was released in Europe in March 1989 on Warner Bros Records, which had been Summer's label in Europe since 1982. The single "This Time I Know it's For Real" had become a top ten hit in several countries in Europe, prompting the Warner Bros. subsidiary company Atlantic Records to sign Summer in the US and pick up the album for a North American release soon after. The single peaked at No7 on the Hot 100 in the US, and became her twelfth gold single there. It was also Summer's final Top 40 hit on the American pop charts, though she scored two more UK hits from the album, "I Don't Wanna Get Hurt" (UK No7) and "Love's About To Change My Heart" (UK No20).
In 1990, a new compilation, The Best of Donna Summer, was released on Warner Bros Records. It featured some of Summer's biggest hits from the 1970s and 1980s. The album achieved Gold status in the UK, where "State of Independence" had been re-released to promote it.
In 1991, Summer released the new jack swing style album Mistaken Identity. It did not sell well, but did contain the No18 R&B hit "When Love Cries".
In 1993, Polygram Records released an extended greatest hits collection entitled The Donna Summer Anthology. It included 34 songs, totalling over two and a half hours of music. It not only included songs from the Polygram-owned labels of Casablanca and Mercury, but also material from Atlantic and Geffen Records as well.
In 1994, Summer return with a new album on Mercury/Polygram, a gospel-influenced Christmas album entitled Christmas Spirit. It included classic Christmas songs such as "O Holy Night", "Joy To The World", and "Oh Come All Ye Faithful",and a stiring rendition of Amy Grant's "Breath of Heaven", as well as some original songs.
Some of Summer's dance releases including "Carry On" (her first collaboration with Moroder in a decade) and "Melody of Love (Wanna Be Loved)" charted on the US Dance Chart, with "Melody of Love" reaching number one on that chart and also reaching number 21 on the UK Singles Chart.
Also in 1994, Polygram would release yet another Summer compilation album entitled "Endless Summer: Greatest Hits", containing 18 songs which were mainly the radio versions heard at the time of their release (as opposed to the Anthology album the year before which contained many longer versions of the songs).
During this time, Summer was offered a guest role on the sitcom Family Matters as Steve Urkel's (Jaleel White) Aunt Oona. She made a second appearance in 1997. In 1998, Summer received a Grammy Award for Best Recording, being the first to do so, after a remixed version of her 1992 collaboration with Giorgio Moroder, "Carry On", was released in 1997. In 1999, Summer taped a live television special for VH1 titled Donna Summer – Live and More Encore, producing the second highest ratings that year for the network, after their annual Divas special. A CD of the event was released by Epic Records and featured two studio recordings, "I Will Go With You" and "Love Is The Healer" which reached number one on the Billboard Dance Charts.
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Donna Summer continued to score top ten hits on Billboard's Dance Chart in the new millennium. In 2000, she also appeared on the third annual Divas special, dedicated to Diana Ross, though Summer sang her own material for the show.
One month before the September 11 Attacks Summer who was living in Manhattan at the time had a premonition that they would occur. For a period of time after the attacks she was unable to leave her bedroom. She was reported to have blamed her lung cancer on inhaling toxic dust from the fallen towers.
In 2004, Donna Summer was inducted to the Dance Music Hall of Fame alongside The Bee Gees and Barry Gibb as an artist. Her classic song, "I Feel Love", was also inducted that night.
In 2008, Summer released her first studio album of fully original material in 17 years, entitled Crayons. Released on the Sony BMG label Burgundy Records, it peaked at No17 on the US Top 200 Album Chart (her highest placing on the chart since 1983), and achieved modest international success. The songs "I'm a Fire", "Stamp Your Feet", and "Fame (The Game)" reached number one on the US Billboard Dance Chart. The ballad "Sand on My Feet" was released to adult contemporary stations and reached number thirty on that chart. While commenting on the album, Summer said "I wanted this album to have a lot of different directions on it. I did not want it to be any one baby. I just wanted it to be a sampler of flavors and influences from all over the world. There's a touch of this, a little smidgeon of that, a dash of something when you're cooking." On the song "The Queen Is Back", Summer reveals her wry and witty self-awareness of her musical legacy and her public persona. "I'm making fun of myself," she admits. "There's irony, it's poking fun at the idea of being called a queen. That's a title that has followed me, followed me, and followed me. We were sitting and writing and that title kept popping up in my mind and I'm thinking, ‘Am I supposed to write this? Is this too arrogant to write?' But people call me ‘the queen,' so I guess it's ok to refer to myself as what everybody else refers to me as. We started writing the song and thought it was kind of cute and funny." Summer wrote "The Queen Is Back" and "Mr. Music" with J.R. Rotem and Evan Bogart, the son of Casablanca Records founder, Neil Bogart.
On December 11, 2009, Summer performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, in honor of United States President Barack Obama. She was backed by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.
Donna Summer,The Donna Summer Anthology,Japan,DOUBLE CD,206848
The Associated Press reported that Donna Summer died on the morning of May 17, 2012 at her home in Key West, Florida at the age of 63 following a battle with cancer. The Bradenton Herald, quoting "Sarasota County records", stated that she lived in Englewood, Florida at the time of her death. The reference did not state her location at the time of her death. The New York Times reported that she died at her home in Naples, Florida. Summer is survived by her husband Bruce Sudano, their daughters Brooklyn and Amanda, as well as her daughter Mimi from a previous marriage

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