LaDonna Adrian Gaines (December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012), known by her stage name, Donna Summer, was an American singer, songwriter, and painter. She gained prominence during the disco era of the late 1970s. A five-time Grammy Award winner, she was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach No. 1 on the United States Billboard album chart and charted four number-one singles in the United States within a 12-month period. She also charted two number-one R&B singles. Summer has reportedly sold over 140 million records, making her one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time.
While influenced by the counterculture of the 1960s, she became the front singer of a psychedelic rock band named Crow and moved to New York City. Joining a touring version of the musical Hair, she left New York and spent several years living, acting, and singing in Europe, where she met music producers, Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte.
She returned to the United States, in 1975 with mass commercial success of the song Love to Love You Baby. Over the following years Summer followed this success with a string of other hits, such as “I Feel Love“, “Last Dance“, “MacArthur Park“, “Heaven Knows“, “Hot Stuff“, “Bad Girls“, “Dim All the Lights“, “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)“, and “On the Radio“. “Last Dance” won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song on the “Thank God It’s Friday” movie soundtrack. She became known as the “Queen of Disco”, while her music gained a global following.
Summer died on May 17, 2012, at her home in Naples, Florida. In her obituary in The Times, Summer was described as the “undisputed queen of the Seventies disco boom” who reached the status of “one of the world’s leading female singers.” Moroder described Summer’s work with him on the song “I Feel Love” as “really the start of electronic dance” music. In 2013, Summer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Love Is In Control—-I have always been a ‘secret’ Disco lover…and Donna WAS the queen. I just adore this track…I believe it was also featured on the Flashdance soundtrack as well. The beat is funky…the back drop vocals give the song a nice depth. This is a standout track in her catalog. I love all aspects of it and never tire of listening to it.
Mystery Of Love—-Flush with nice layers of music at the onset, the arrangement allows Summer to show her true vocal range and talent. This is a sweeping dance song…with nice tempo increases and decreases. It is not a favorite track…but the more you listen to it the more it seems to grow on you.
The Woman In Me—-Oozing sexuality from the onset, Summer whispers her introduction and proceeds to deliver a romance filled opus. The song…the beats, the instrumentation is lush and sexy…really nice.
State Of Independence—-Perhaps my favorite Summer song of all time…I love the reggae infused music…the forceful deliver of the vocal…the sheer joy of the music makes me excited and feel jubilant.Summers voice is so strong…and when the choir of voices join in on the track…you are transported to a much better place. This is all about equality…unity and togetherness….
Livin’ In America—-This track lets you know…right from the onset, that it was recorded in the 1980’s. The beats and orchestration is clear. Summer seems to strain a bit with her vocal and the song is laden with background singers. It is not a throwaway track, but by no means a standout either.
Protection—-With a bit more metallic infusion to the music, Summer tells yet another sad tale of lost love and loneliness that somehow is dance able! The chorus is huge and it sticks in your brain…never giving you a moments peace. This is a really great track.
Hurts Just A Little—-Returning to a bit sappier sound once again, the standout on this track are the incredible horn and choir of voices. All of this allows a hollow song to sound really huge. One does not expect the electric guitars either…nicely done!
A Breath Away—-The vocal…at the beginning of this track seems really pushed to the back of the mix and lacking force. The music seems to overpower the entire feeling of the song. I don’t care for this.
Lush Life—-I know that this song has been around forever…a classic standard…sung over and over by many people. I am jaded on this track…in my opinion no one ever sang it better than Rickie Lee Jones.This rendition is rather fantastic though. The vocal range and enunciation’s are fantastic…..the feeling is there…it manages to transport me….not quite like Rickie….but it is more than adequate.
***1/2 out of 5