Singer Donna Summer dies at 63‎

Donna Summer, the singer who came to be known as the “Queen of Disco” during her 1970′s heyday, died at her Naples, Fla. home today after battling lung cancer. She was 63.
“Early this morning, surrounded by family, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith” – her family said in a statement. “While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy. Words truly can’t express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time.”
A source to close to the family said Summer was suffering from lung cancer.
Summer was a five time Grammy award winner who was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard chart. Her hits like “Last Dance,” “Bad Girls,” and “Love to Love You Baby” made her a disco icon.
Born outside of Boston, Summer was raised by devout Christian parents who introduced her to both gospel and classical music. In a 2008 interview with ABC News’ “Nightline,” Summer remembered her mom singing songs to her before going to bed each night.
“As long as the classical station was playing on the radio, I wouldn’t cry” – she said. “If it was on for 20 hours, I would sleep for 20 hours. I would be calm. So I think that my mother probably helped my sense of musicality just by doing that.”

Singer Donna Summer dies at 63
Donna Summer.

Donna Summer, who earned the tag Queen of Disco for her era-defining music but who had transcended the genre over the years, has died in Naples, after a private battle with lung cancer – her family said.
Summer was 63 and had recently been in meetings at her Los Angeles home with producer Jay Landers. The pair had planned to work on an album of duets with contemporary dance acts she had influenced and, with Barry Manilow, an album of songs devoted to the Detroit music scene.
“She had the regal quality of a singer who transcends the genre they are best known for – a fancy way of saying she could really sing the phone book” – Landers, a senior vice president at Universal who has worked with Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion and Carly Simon, said in a telephone interview Thursday from Los Angeles. “We planned to invite some of the leading dance contemporary artists like Lady Gaga, Pink, Katy Perry, Madonna and others who Donna had cut a path for. I was totally floored when I read the news because she looked great and was in great spirits.”
Her family, which includes husband Bruce Sudano, their daughters Brooklyn and Amanda, and her daughter Mimi from a previous marriage, said they “are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.”
“Words truly can’t express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time” – the family statement read.
Though Summer came to prominence just as disco was emerging from New York nightclubs in the mid-1970′s, and came to define the glittery era with a string of No. 1 hits including “MacArthur Park,” “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls”, she was first inspired by Janis Joplin. Her debut album in 1974, Lady of the Night, revealed her considerable rock roots. Though released only in Europe, the album paired her with a producer/songwriter with whom she’d make musical history, Giorgio Moroder.

It started with sex.
Donna Summer’s breakthrough record, 1975’s “Love to Love You Baby,” titillated and amused the world with her deep-breathing approximation of an epic orgasm, a sound that served as both the song’s musical hook and its talking point.
Yet, even on that record, Summer was far from a cheap gimmick. Her voice had a muscularity and a purity that made it the perfect vehicle for the driving disco rhythms idealized by her great producer Giorgio Moroder.
In Summer’s long string of hits, both with Moroder and without him, she established a daringly forthright sound. Her vocal style indulged no fancy runs and required no showy melismas. Instead she sang every note straight on the melody, trusting the power of her tone alone to tell the story. That tone told a tale full of confidence, awareness and, yes, sex too.
While Summer rose to power in the eroticized world of disco and dance-club culture, her voice had a gospel power and a pop clarity. In truth, she could sing anything and often did during her long career.
Her earliest exposure came in musical theater, performing in the German version of “Hair” in the late 60′s. She also performed in the Euro versions of “The Me Nobody Knows,” “Godspell” and “Showboat.” In addition, she sang with the Viennese Folk Opera in Munich.
Her fine diction and sense of musical economy made her ideal for a wide range of styles. But it was a seeming novelty record in ’75 that put her at the forefront of what then ranked as the cutting-edge world of disco.
She concocted the “Love to Love You” refrain while Moroder matched it to a throbbing, and very new, electronic sound that would ignite a revolution. By the bicentennial year of 1976, the outrageous song became a sensation in this country and in many others.
The subsequent long string of singles Summer sang had finely realized melodies on their side – from the grace of “Last Dance” to the strut of “Hot Stuff.” But they wouldn’t have had nearly their commercial potency, or emotional resonance, without her declarative style. She sang each note emphatically, luxuriating in the rhythmic sharpness of the diction and the directness of the language.
In the two-part structure of “Last Dance,” she rang every bit of urgency from the lyric, peaking into loneliness while grasping for a final chance at fleshy connection. In the smash “Enough Is Enough,” she had the force and moxie to go head-to-head with Barbra Streisand, matching her shout for shout in the single’s wildly escalating chorus.

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