Donna Summer died of lung cancer not related to smoking on May 17, 2012 at age 63 after a years-long battle. She was not a smoker according to a report by CNN. False reports about it being related to smoking have caused her family to speak out in denial.
Donna Summer was known as the Queen of disco in the ’70’s. She truly was.
Relentless public attention and the highs and lows of her career brought her to the brink of suicide at one point, only to be stopped by a hotel maid.
She was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines December 31, 1948, in Boston, Massachusetts. Her father was a butcher and her mother was a schoolteacher. She sang from the moment she could speak. Her mother said she “lived to sing” and sang throughout the house all day long.
Her formal debut was at age 10 in her church. The singer who was scheduled to sing didn’t show up and the priest invited Donna to sing.
“You couldn’t see her if you were beyond the third row,” her father remembered. “But you could hear her.” Summer recalled, “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 come out I felt like God said to me, ‘Donna, you’re going to be very, very famous.’ And I just knew from that day on I was going to be famous.”
She starred in school musicals and was very popular in school. She was a bit of a challenge, sneaking out of the house as a teenager to avoid her parents’ strict curfew. At age 18, she was chosen for the musical Hair in the German production. Reluctantly, her parents went with her to Germany when she insisted. She learned to speak fluent German within a few months. She was obviously a very smart girl.
Her first solo album was Lady of the Night in 1974. She married German singer Helmuth Sommer but the marriage only lasted three years.
Biography:…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…
She achieved less success in the 80’s and 90’s, having released two R&B albums in the 80’s and a couple unsuccessful albums in the 90’s.
She became a successful painter who achieved commercial acclaim for her work. In 2008, she released the album Crayons, which did well.
Summer married singer-songwriter Bruce Sudano in 1980, and they had two children.
God bless Donna Summer. You will be missed but we are grateful for the beautiful music you have left behind.