Friday, July 6, 2012

Donna Summer during TV special in Los Angeles 3

1982, Los Angeles, California, USA --- Donna Summer during TV special in Los Angeles --- Image by © Neal Preston/Corbis © Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

Donna Summer during TV special in Los Angeles 2

1982, Los Angeles, California, USA --- Donna Summer during TV special in Los Angeles --- Image by © Neal Preston/Corbis © Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

Donna Summer during TV special in Los Angeles

1982, Los Angeles, California, USA --- Donna Summer during TV special in Los Angeles --- Image by © Neal Preston/Corbis © Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

Rare Donna Summer Photos

Donna Summer Special - "Sunset People" & "Bad Girls"

Segment five from the 1980 ABC-TV "Donna Summer Special". Remember, this is before MTV debuted. "Sunset People" and "Bad Girls" (essentially music videos) are presented back to back in this segment. Here's the trivia: the girl on the lamp-post in "Sunset" is Donna's sister. The nun who shakes her head in disapproval is Donna's manager, Susan Munao.

Last Dance - The Donna Summer ABC Special

The finale song for the special that aired only once on ABC television in January, 1980.

Donna Summer Special - Thirties Medley

This special for ABC-TV underwent seven re-edits prior to the final version completed just before its Sunday night airing.
 Don Mischer shot this segment so beautifully that it practically put itself together!


Back In Love Again - Glenn Rivera ReStructure Mix - Donna Summer

Donna Summer and her "I Remember Yesterday" album two of the greatest moments in 1977. Not only has the classic and innovative track, "I Feel Love" come from the album but some of the best Giorgio Moroder studio recordings also.

The Motown and retro sided A gives a medley of great dance pieces including "Back In Love Again" - which I have taken from the blend and ReStructured into it's own play. The feel of the Motown sound echoes throughout the mix even more with a special appearance from Diana Ross herself.

Dedicated to Donna Summer "die-hards" everywhere - I know I am one!

Donna Summer-Back in Love Again

"Back in Love Again" is a song by Donna Summer from her I Remember Yesterday album. Summer combines her trademark disco beats with a 1960s sound on this track. The song is actually a re-working of a track called "Something's in the Wind", which was a B-side to "Denver Dream", a single released by Summer in The Netherlands and Belgium in 1974. The song peaked at #29 on the UK singles chart.

Queens of Disco Documentary

Fashion Meets Music: Donna Summer

Fashion Meets Music: Donna Summer
Fashion Meets Music: Donna Summer
The seventies was an era fueled by the rhythms of a new electronic sound called disco, energy on the dancefloor, and accented by sequins. The lush voice of Donna Summer was a driving force of the sound with hits like Love to Love You Baby, I Feel Love, and Last Dance, earning her the title of the undisputed Queen of Disco. Donna’s sound borrows itself from the funk and soul elements that were emerging out of the New York and Philadelphia but it was her powerful gospel trained voice that set her apart.
Fashion Meets Music: Donna Summer
Fun, classic, and beautiful...
“Fun, classic, and beautiful” were the words my mother used to describe her style (she used to roller skate to “Bad Girls”).  Her style wasn’t outrageous and she wasn’t a trendsetter, as say, The Pointer Sisters, but Donna was the paradigm of how a lady should dress. Long sparkling dresses, rich hair accented by flowers tucked behind her ear, flawless makeup, and plunging necklines made up her stage look.
Fashion Meets Music: Donna Summer
Her style wasn't outrageous and she wasn't a trendsetter...Donna was the paradigm of how a lady should dress.
Here is an excerpt from an interview she did recently Ron Stafford Hagwood for the where she talks about her new album, Crayons, and developing as an artist.
Why did you decide to do an album after 17 years?
I was sitting around thinking I should do something. I was thinking about design school. A friend said, ‘Are you out of your mind? Do an album.’ But I like privacy and I like my space. I like being with my family. You have to be in the right frame of mind. You can’t be like ‘don’t touch me’ to your fans or saying ‘I don’t want to sign autographs.’ I think I was exhausted for a lot of years. I have to take my hat off to people like Madonna. They keep doing it.
Why the title Crayons?
Every song is a different color and a different style. I just wanted to play like a kid with some building blocks or something and tell stories. I really think of myself as an actress who sings. That’s where I come from you know. I did [in Europe] Hair, Porgy & Bess, Godspell, Showboat, The Me Nobody Knows.

What is your work process?
A song will sit in your chest. All you have to do is play the right sound and it will come out. You tap into the emotion of the sound you hear. I don’t write a song. I grew up in the church. I’m really a psalmist. A psalmist would sing what comes out. I got really adept at doing that.

To what do you ascribe your longevity in the music business?
I have no idea what the biz is doing. Twenty years ago, you could almost set a pattern for success in the music industry. Today there are no norms. All I can say is don’t do it for the reward, do it for the pleasure. I write songs all the time. It is my joy. It’s not about making money every second. I don’t think the record companies want to take the time to let an artist develop anymore. And that’s a shame. An artist goes through colors and moods.
Fashion Meets Music: Donna Summer

1988 Sexy Donna Summer Singer Press Photo

Behind the scenes Donna Summer in the Studio!

Beautiful behind-the-scenes documentary footage of Donna Summer. Listening to a playback recording of her performance the night before, in L.A.

Soundcheck Donna Summer 2011 Wedding David Foster

Donna Summer having a soundcheck,on the wedding of David Foster,this comes from the dutch program,Dutch Hollywood Wives!

Donna Summer: Is There Life After Disco?

Rolling Stone's 1978 cover story on the singer

May 17, 2012 12:35 PM ET
Donna Summer on the cover of 'Rolling Stone.'
Photograph by Brian Leatart
This story is from the March 23rd, 1978 issue of Rolling Stone.
Until I saw Donna Summer a year ago on a Midnight Special with Lou Rawls, I'd viewed her music simply as brilliantly packaged aural sex, nothing too meaty, and, in spite of its implied intimacies, nothing too personal. But when she joined Rawls on the dais dressed like a Bloomingdale's Cleopatra, she sang probably the most affectingly full-blooded version of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" I'd ever heard. This wasn't the cooing voice she used on records.
The second time I saw her was on the set of the Casablanca Records and Film Works-Motown production, Thank God It's Friday. Donna was playing an aspiring singer trying to persuade a disco DJ to let her perform a song. After several rebuffs, the singer sneaks into the booth and locks the door behind her, so it's just the two of them. Then she unbuttons the top button of her blouse and fixes him with a stare from the corners of her eyes. I remember thinking it was one of the most curious expressions I'd ever seen, wide-open, withheld and coldly erotic.
But now, at Christmas time, when Donna pulls into the Casablanca Records' office of Susan Munao, wearing a billowing green velvet dress and pencil-heeled black boots, she looks neither mysterious nor erotic, just dog tired.
Her handshake is firm and her smile is friendly, but her wide eyes are bloodshot. Her tall frame is muscular and her face, framed by wavy black hair and centered with a puggish nose, is less angular than in album photos. While Munao leaves to fetch Cokes, Donna sinks into a swivel armchair with an exaggerated sigh.
In rotelike speech with an occasional Bostonian curl, Summer attributes her languor to the last two days' regimen of interviews and rehearsals. Then, without breathing space or prompting, she launches into a detailed, detached explanation of her plans for taking Once upon a Time (her latest album) to the stage in the spring. After a few minutes, Munao returns to announce that Summer's boyfriend, Michael, would like to speak to her for a moment. "He has those Christmas cards you wanted," Munao says. Michael, a tall, blond man wearing a red-and-white satin warmup jacket, saunters into the room possessively and places a card before Donna.
"No, no," she says, plucking it from his hand, "this won't do. You can't tell who's supposed to be who. Is that a cartoon of Neil Bogart [Casablanca's president] or Jeff Wald [Donna's comanager with Joyce Bogart at the time]?"
"Well, that's Neil, I guess," he says. "You can tell because he's sort of fat." Before going, Michael mentions that he'd met a psychic healer earlier in the day and asked him by Donna's later.
"Well, I don't want to see him." Donna hitches her shoulder like a kid turning down porridge.
"Believe me," he says slowly, "you want to see him. I mean, this guy has such an eerie aura about him. He told me more in fifteen minutes about what's been going down in your life and career than I could've told him."
"Oh yeah? What'd he say about my headaches and insomnia?"
Michael leans over the desk at Donna, resting his weight on his knuckles. "He said to tell you that he'll take on your pain because it won't hurt him."
"Really?" Her face brightens. "Really? Look, ask him if he'll meet with me tonight. Maybe he'll take away this negativity so I can sleep." After Michael saunters back out, I tell her it sounds as if she's going through a rough stretch. "Oh God," she says, letting out a long breath, "I can't even begin to tell you. Too much has happened lately. It seems like an absurdity. I just got back from this Italian tour that was so ill organized and badly paced that I thought I was going to break. In one airport I was so gone that they had to give me oxygen and wheel me to the plane, and all I could think was, 'I've got a show to do tonight.'
"Sometimes it gets to the point where you've been pushed for so long, by this motorous, monstrous force, this whole production of people and props that you're responsible for, by audiences and everything that rules you, until you take it upon yourself to be a machine. And at some point a machine breaks down. I feel like I want to cry most of the time and just get rid of it, but sometimes I get so pent-up, I can't. And that's when I get afraid."
Probably more than any other single personality, Donna Summer has come to represent disco artistry, a fairly enigmatic thing to epitomize. In the rigid framework of disco, the artist's role is so often reduced to that of a prop that the term "artist" hardly even applies. Few disco performers have attempted to adopt the genre to their own bents and even fewer have managed to escape it altogether. Strangely, Summer has been not only its most flagrant example of prop usage, but also the most successful at transcending the prop – and, in turn, disco itself.
In her early hits, particularly "Love to Love You Baby," Donna and her producers – Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte – embellished and strengthened the prop by affording it a persona of sorts: Donna became a servile vixen with a whispery voice, intoning and moaning over a metronomic beat that had all the intensity of a sex act between consenting androids. (No less an authority than Time clocked the seventeen-minute performance at a prodigious twenty-two orgasms.) If it seemed a persona of dubious and limited worth, it nevertheless had the desired results: Donna became disco's best-known personality – one of the few to endure – and, in the bargain, one of its most consistent sellers.

But Summer's two albums last year, I Remember Yesterday and Once upon a Time, were ambitious departures from the sexy marionette image and breathy vocal mannerisms, and at times suspended disco's influence altogether. I Remember Yesterday was a random sampler of twentieth-century-pop vocal styles, from the Hollywood "jazz age" title track to the electronic reverie of "I Feel Love," the album's biggest single. (According to Donna, it was the one track she had the least hand in writing. "Giorgio brought me these popcorn tracks he'd recorded and I said, 'What the hell is this, Giorgio?' I finished it sort of as a joke.") But Once upon a Time, says Donna, "is the first record I can really say is a part of me." In the course of its four sides, she and lyricist Pete Bellotte rework the Cinderella fairy tale, transplanting her from the castle and silk landscape of yore to a Fritz Lang-like urban nightmare where claustrophobia is both Cinderella's greatest infirmity and impetus.
Donna's own childhood in Boston as Donna Gaines, the daughter of an electrician and schoolteacher, she says, wasn't far removed from the Once upon a Time scenario. "I grew up in a family with five girls and one boy, and we lived in a three-family house, so I had to compete. To be heard, you had to talk loud. Either that or you just tried to find a hollow corner where you could sit and fantasize about being someplace else. And school wasn't any easier. I went to school with some pretty violent people, and I was an outsider because I couldn't live on that black-and-white separatist premise. Racial? I didn't know what the word meant until I was older."
Singing became a way for Donna to assert her worth. Though her church-choir director always refused her plea to sing a solo, she knew she had a voice. "Because when I screamed, I screamed loud," Summer says. "I just wasn't getting it out right. So that's when I would go up to my parents' bedroom to do breathing exercises and listen to Mahalia Jackson records." Instead of at the church, she sang her professional debut at Boston's Psychedelic Supermarket in 1967 with a band called Crow ("the crow being me because I was the only black member of the group").
Donna left Boston in 1967 at the age of eighteen to accept a role in a Munich-based edition of Hair. While in Germany, she married an Austrian actor from the troupe, Helmut Sommer (they are now divorced, but she's retained the name and Anglicized its spelling); had a child, Mimi (who lives most of the time with Donna's family in Boston); sang in Vienna Folk Opera productions of Porgy and Bess and Showboat, and spent her afternoons singing backup at Munich's Musicland studios. It was there that she met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, and together they had a minor string of pap-pop hits in Western Europe.
Moroder had just licensed his Oasis label to Casablanca for American distribution in 1975, when he and Summer recorded "Love to Love You Baby," which failed in all European markets that had previously played Summer, save one – Paris.
When Neil Bogart first received "Love to Love You Baby," his luck had just begun to change for the better. Kiss mania was starting, and it looked as though it might save Casablanca from an impending bankruptcy incurred by the Here's Johnny: Magic Moments from the Tonight Show turkey on which Bogart had high-rolled $1.5 million. But Bogart, who'd borrowed his last name from Humphrey Bogart (real name: Neil Bogatz) and appropriated his company's name from the actor's best-known film, likes to flaunt his loser's luck. The first time Bogart played "Love to Love You," the story goes, was at a party at his house, where he kept getting requests to play it again and again for the dancers. Bogart decided then to gamble with a full-sided version for her album and called Moroder in Munich that night to request a new track.
"You know what I used to tell people in the beginning?" asks Bogart, sitting in front of his cutaway windows in his Persian-d├ęcor office. "'Take Donna home and make love to her – the album, that is. It'll become part of your family.'" Along those lines, Casablanca promoted the record by encouraging radio stations to play the track at midnight, sponsoring "seventeen minutes of love with Donna Summer," although it aimed its heaviest push at the discos just then sprouting around the country.
Did Bogart worry at the time that the sexy hype might limit Donna's credibility?
"Hype. What a marvelous, misused word. Terribly misused." He leans forward with the eagerness of a doctor with a ready-made diagnosis. "If you hype something and it succeeds, you're a genius, it wasn't a hype; if you hype it and it fails, then it's just a hype. We did build her up bigger than life on that first album [Love to Love You Baby]. We hyped ourselves, if anything, so if somebody says that she's a hype, hopefully they know how to use the word.
"The sex-image thing didn't concern me as much as it did others – or as much as it did Donna, for that matter. It concerned me because it concerned Donna; that's the extent of it. I had no doubt that she would blossom as nicely as she has. She's the only person I know to go from being a disco artist to an 'everyman' artist."
"It's slowly been getting easier for me to sleep," says Donna, picking at some tortilla chips in a dish before her. "And those squeezing headaches are finally gone. But for a few weeks there, it was torture." We are sitting in a corner booth at Carlos & Charlie's, a Spanish-style Sunset Strip singles habitat that has little carousel unicorns and medieval turrets adorning its green shingle roof. Donna makes an Imogene Coca cross-eyed face over a particularly peppery chip and then tells about her meeting with the psychic. He said that before she could remove the "negativity" around her, she must first look closely at the people guiding her affairs. Coincidentally or not, since our first meeting a month ago, she has terminated her relationship with Wald, DeBlasio, Nanas & Associates management and enlisted Susan Munao from Casablanca to work with Joyce Bogart as comanager. And Michael, who introduced her to the psychic in the first place, seems also to have faded along the way.
Joyce Bogart had gone into partnership with Jeff Wald, et al. after marrying Neil Bogart in 1976, but Donna says she found the new association unworkable. "It's like having an artist and you don't even know what in the hell they're about. When I was on that tour in Italy and I was calling them trying to tell them what the problem was, all they could say was, 'Cancel the tour.' My name is on that billboard, and those audiences are not going to understand why I'm canceling, and unless I'm deathly ill, I don't want to do that .... Anyway, as far as I can see they're just manipulated by the machinery of this whole business."
(Jeff Wald replies: "Shit, so the dressing rooms at some three-hundred-year-old theater in Verona weren't adequate – that's what you get when you play a three-hundred-year-old theater. That's part of show business. I didn't get involved with her until after she came back from Europe – that was supposed to be Ron DeBlasio's business. I found her to be immature, demanding and childish.
"Her expectancy of what management is doesn't match mine. She would call you up to get a jet for her to get out of a place, and after you spend six hours getting the plane in the air on the way to her, she calls you back and tells you her astrologer told her not to fly that day.
"She likes somebody to live with her and hold her hand, and I'm not going to do that. My job is to advise and counsel. I think we made major contributions to her career.")
But, I wonder, given Donna's disco-derived image, doesn't she feel she's been manipulated too?
"Constantly," she says, tilting her head in a little-girl-share-a-secret pose. "And it can be pretty frightening when you realize you're a part of the machine. But you can always change that. In the beginning it was like being a commodity. The image and the person got characterized as one and the same, and I was saying, 'No, wait. There's more to me than meets the eye – maybe twenty pounds more.' By the time of Spring Affair [1976], it was enough. I couldn't go on singing those soft songs. I've sung gospel and Broadway musicals all my life and you have to have a belting voice for that. And because my skin is black they categorize me as a black act, which is not the truth. I'm not even a soul singer. I'm more a pop singer."

A waiter brings Donna her chef's salad. "Oh no," says Donna, calling him back. "I'm sorry. I ... uh ...," she lapses momentarily into German, then catching herself, translates apologetically: "I forgot to tell you. I'm allergic to cheese. Can you take this back?" I've noticed her slip into German two or three times before, so I ask her what America must have seemed like on her return.
"Frightening, to say the least. Even going home to Boston was a shock. People couldn't understand me, a black, speaking German. I didn't really get used to it until last spring when I broke up with my German boyfriend." And California? She looks over her shoulder, peering out through the lead-glass window that frames the Casablanca offices across the street. "California will probably never seem like home to me. Sometimes I get bored riding down the beautiful streets of L.A. I know it sounds crazy, but I just want to go to New York and see people... suffer. I know that there's another kind of world that I don't get to see, that I'm protected from, but I'm aware of it because I grew up there. Sometimes this is like being displaced from the real world."
An uncomfortably tall man in a reindeer-pattern sweater has corralled his friends into the corner of the mirrored room and is sharing his excitement with them. "You know that part in 'Love to Love You Baby' where she starts to fuck the microphone? I got so excited that I was jumping up and down until my little bastard stood up." Flashing a proud smirk, he reaches down and pats the corduroy area between his legs where his "little bastard" is now merrily reposed.
The occasion is the last evening of Donna Summer's first starring engagement at Sahara Tahoe's High Sierra Room, and the place is a waiting room backstage. In spite of this one corner of good cheer, though, the mood among those waiting for the star is reserved. Donna's first show of the evening had been beset by a bizarrely fluctuating sound system and a near-comatose dinner crowd. I'd wondered beforehand why Donna bypassed the usual concert-hall circuit in favor of Tahoe and Las Vegas, but Joyce Bogart informed me that "that's her audience. She draws an audience that's sixty to eighty percent white, ranging up to forty-five years of age, and that means places like Tahoe and Vegas." Donna says it's because she can find "recruits" for her music in those audiences. Tonight, though, there were no recruits to be found, and when Donna came offstage she was almost in tears.
But now when she enters the waiting room from her dressing cubicle, the mood of a half-hour before seems forgotten. Dressed in a short, blue silk kimono and wearing a lovely smile, this is the Donna Summer of her album covers – fully alluring. She begins to circle the room, stopping and chatting animatedly with any unfamiliar face she sees. When she gets to the corner where the happy owner of the "little bastard" waits, he hands her a copy of Once upon a Time for an autograph. "Would you draw something weird on the back?" She complies with a hurried cartoon sketch of a girl in a gown. "Oh, is that you?" he says. "Be sure to draw some big boobs on it, just like yours."
She smiles indulgently. "You mean big butt. I have a big butt."
"Well, you said it, not me," he says, and gives her a squeeze beneath the kimono. She shoots him a glare that could cut marble, but he's oblivious. As she hands him back the album, he leans over and tries to kiss her on the lips. She pulls back for a quick second, then turns and offers her cheek instead. For just the glint of a second I catch a look in her eyes – a look that abides.
An hour later, moments before her last show of the engagement, Donna and three of her sisters, who sing backup for her, stand in the wings, clinging affectionately to each other in a tight prayer circle. "Ladies and Gentlemen," announces an FM-modulated voice, "the High Sierra Room is proud to present the 'First Lady of Love,' "and Donna takes her place center stage, singing Barry Manilow's "Could It Be Magic," one of her favorite songs. Supported by a full orchestra and a meticulous rhythm sextet, Donna's show de-emphasizes her disco sources in favor of a campier cabaret production. She's a Sophie Tucker on "One of These Days," Judy Garland on "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)," and a little like her idol, Josephine Baker, on the intro to "My Man."
But when she gets to "Love to Love You Baby," the disco pulse washes over her, and she comes damn close to copulating with her mike stand, writhing up and down its length with palpable shivers. Judging from the audience's response, this is still the Donna Summer they know best. Suddenly, with only a blink between songs, the pitapat beat becomes "I Feel Love," juxtaposing the erotic with the icelike. Donna dances in angular, jerky motions and her face is a dazed, mechanical mask.
Then, almost as though she finds Giorgio's mesmerizing "popcorn tracks" too confining, she begins to sing, "Feel it!" on the offbeat, gradually transforming the song into a fevered gospel and bolting into a coltish dance. I'm reminded of that moment at the end of Once upon a Time's second side, when, after fifteen minutes of brilliant electronic tension, Cinderella's dream – to be free of the machines – true, signaled by an acoustic piano flourish. The first time I heard that, I thought of Metropolis, Fritz Lang's archetypal science-fiction film about man's revolt against the machines, and its simple maxim: "The mediator between the mind and the machine must be the heart."
Earlier in the week. Donna had said: "I guess I was treated as a novelty type at first, but that was to be expected. I wasn't a hype. It's probably like what Marilyn Monroe must have gone through her whole life, playing the part of a dumb blondie while she was depriving herself of something greater. She couldn't make them believe it, and it killed her as a result. I don't want that to happen to me."
Now, after the encore, Donna stumbles into the wings looking faint and has to be helped into a chair. A stage attendant slips over her face an oxygen mask, kept handy because of Tahoe's high altitude. Sitting there gasping, her big eyes peering over the plastic pocket stuck on her face. Donna looks slightly scared, very tired – and wholly indomitable. But it's a gentle, not a hard look, the look of someone who's just won a tough audience but is waiting for a tougher one. It's the indomitability of someone who abides – not her place, but her time.

Donna Summer On Queens Of Disco BBC March 2012


The ‘70s: quite a decade for those of who survived it. I lived in New York City midway through that decade and to all intents and purposes, the city on fire with music. Those were the heady days of funky grooves, house parties and clubs, clubs and more clubs. Up the street was Studio 54, a few blocks over Better Days and a subway ride away, The Loft and The Paradise Garage. Heady days, indeed, with the music of Earth, Wind & Fire, Millie Jackson, Labelle, Cameo, The Isley Brothers, Diana Ross, Rufus, Esther Phillips and B.T. Express. And, disco. Well, it was really dance music born in the underground clubs frequented primarily by black gay men up and down the Eastern seaboard – New York, Philly and DC. By 1976 when I had moved back to the city after a love-torn six months in L.A., disco was in high gear spurred on by the likes of Gloria Gaynor, First Choice and, of course, Donna Summer.

My first in-person experience of Donna had been during my L.A. stay when Casablanca Records held a truly lavish party for her on Sunset strip and I can remember - as if it were yesterday - when she walked into the star-studded function to a rousing round of applause. “Love To Love You Baby” had already become a staple on radio after gaining tremendous airplay in the clubs and no one knew quite what to expect from this girl from Boston who had spent years in Germany in shows like “Hair” and was returning in a new incarnation as the singer of a pretty explicitly erotic musical piece. Glammed up to the max, Donna made her entrance and before we knew it, she had become a staple fixture on the music scene thanks to massive hits like “I Feel Love,” “Last Dance,” “MacArthur Park,” “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls.”

I’ve only met Donna couple of times and we did just one major interview back in 1987 around the time of the release of the Brenda Russell-penned hit “Dinner With Gershwin.” We had a pretty extensive conversation backstage at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe, talking about her then-new album, her ’image’ as a disco diva and sex goddess, her commitment to her faith and that rumor, the one in which she supposedly had made a derogatory comment about gay men with AIDS. She explained how a statement she made in a conversation had been misconstrued and next thing she knew, the rumor mill was churning with folks apparently burning their Summer records! My impression was that Donna was an intelligent, sensitive and well-rounded woman and I left our interview happy that I had gotten a chance to dismantle my own preconceptions of who she was and what she was about…

Fast forward to a couple of years ago when Donna was appearing at the Universal Amphitheater in L.A. and I was thoroughly taken by just what a good performer and singer she was. It was an excellent show and afterwards, thanks to my good friend Rudy Calvo, I got a chance to say hello to her and once again was struck by her charming disposition and manner. Naturally feeling good after such a great performance, Donna smiled and chatted in an easy comfortable manner…

Our next encounter was in late September in conjunction with the publication of her autobiography, “Ordinary Girl: The Journey” and the release of “The Journey: The Very Best Of Donna Summer,” a twenty-track 2-CD set that features two new songs, “That’s The Way” and “Dream-a-Lot’s Theme (I Will Live For Love)” produced by Giorgio Moroder - who masterminded all of Donna’s ‘70s hits, many with then-partner Pete Bellotte – reuniting with her for the first time in some twenty-two years.

Donna’s book is frank and honest detailing two near-death experiences, a suicide attempt and ultimately a spiritual awakening that has impacted her life ever since. Talking about what it took to write “Ordinary Girl,” Donna says, “I just felt I needed to go somewhere else creatively so although it took a while, I said, ‘let me just do this.’ I felt that writing my own story might help someone else, that I could be like a mirror. So many diverse things have happened in my life and what I know is that we are all similar in our essence [as human beings]. I thought that when people read the book, they could relate and be empathetic especially if they may feel there’s no hope, no future, that they’ve come to the end of their proverbial road. I want people to read the book and say, ‘she did it so I can do it.’ I’d like to think I can offer some kind of encouragement. People think because you are a public person, you have a charmed life. Yes, you may sit with kings and dine with presidents but when you pay all that stuff aside, life is still life..”

Donna admits that the writing process itself was sometimes difficult: “I wanted to be honest about things that were very personal. It was cathartic for me to speak about the fears and circumstances I had. There were so many things I could have held back…so writing was way more painful than I thought it would be. There was a lot of crying and some physical pain. There were some things I never grieved about like the death of my brother-in-law and having to go onstage and do four shows in Las Vegas. That experience just about broke me. In civilian life, you may get the chance to take some time out to grieve. When you’re on the road, you have to put the pain on hold…”

Reading “Ordinary Girl: The Journey,” it quickly becomes apparent that Donna did not expect the kind of enduring fame she has had. There’s the glory of being the reigning ‘queen of disco’ in the ‘70s while being at odds with an image as a sexy siren and confronting issues of self-esteem that had roots in a series of childhood traumas (including, she reveals, a serious problem with bedwetting that continued into her teens). Donna is honest in her appraisal of the ups and downs of her career, her eventual separation from Casablanca Records and a less-than-productive period with Geffen Records. On a personal level, we learn of a relationship marked by domestic violence followed by Donna’s enduring marriage to Bruce Sudano who she met when he was of the group Brooklyn Dreams and her role as mother to children Mimi, Amanda and Brooklyn.

As described in the book, Donna says she came to the realization that “it is possible to go through the fire and not be consumed. I had to have faith in God and that’s the one thing that carried me through everything that happened, that gave me the kind of instant wisdom for things that brought me through and the ultimate perseverance and ability to overcome…”

Coincident with the publication of the Random House book comes the UMG CD compilation which includes a bonus disc with special mixes and an extra new song, “You’re So Beautiful.” Says Donna, “The disc works as a great backdrop to the book. Some of the new songs were finished within the last month or so – “Beautiful” was done a while ago. In fact, I probably have about forty or fifty new songs that I’ve worked on. I was with Sony for a couple of years but I felt I was floundering over there…but I kept writing anyway. Right now, I’m talking to a few companies including UMG and I’m hoping we can work something out. I don’t want to close the door with possible record deals…”

While she has been active over the years as a performer, Donna – who has called Nashville home for several years now - says she took “a good four months off, sitting still and moving through the process of writing this book. I have a gew projects in the pipeline: “The Dreamway Express” which is a children’s fairytale that I’d like to see as a musical then an interactive video; a new recording project; and turning “Ordinary Girl” into a musical. That would be scintillatingly hot!” Donna concludes.

Donna’s story is certainly one of endurance and transformation and indeed, hearkening back to those ‘70s nights on the disco floor, I would not have expected that nearly thirty years later, she would indeed have made it through the madness of the music biz to be a first class entertainer, legitimate recording artist and a painter of renown whose artwork has earned considerable praise through the years. Her book may be entitled “Ordinary Girl” but Donna Summer has clearly had an extraordinary life!

About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create Records as a leading reissue label.

Donna Summer Lost Interview 1978

“Queen For A Day” by Donna Summer – Disco Video Mix by Glenn Rivera

Donna Summer weaves a disco operetta of “Cinderella” in the double LP “Once Upon A Time” from 1977 – it still one of the fondest productions of the era. “Queen For A Day” is from the album and is one of Giorgio Moroder’s masterpiece combinations of his roaring and stately synthesizer and keyboard arrangements along with Bob Esty’s arrangements. It is a masterpiece all of its own.
I have taken the track and placed it along with the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” production from 1957 starring Ginger Rodgers, Celeste Holm, Stuart Damon and Lesley Ann Warren as our princes, soon to be queen.
It is a magical and lyrical fantasy that evokes the entire mystic and joy that disco music brings.
The production was directed by Charles S. Dubin
Featuring scenes from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” – RENT THE DVD!
Disco Video Mix by Glenn Rivera
Produced by Ken Emmons