Donna Summer

With incomparable range and power, Donna Summer defined the '70s pop music generation. And while others languished in the wake of the infamous "death of disco" in 1979, Summer boldly outlived those now-hallowed days and carved a niche among the world's leading song stylists, with a sterling string of hits that range from the rhythmically dynamic to the warmly spiritual.

"Of all the songs from those days, I probably still feel most connected to "Last Dance," says the singer. "Sing it and it brings tears to my eyes. For me, it's become a poignant song. There were a lot of people in my life who are not with us anymore. It's like I'm singing to the memory of people who are special to me."

In 1980, Donna Summer became the first artist signed to David Geffen's new label, Geffen Records, storming into the next phase of her career with "The Wanderer." That set was followed by I'm A Rainbow, a lyrically incisive and musically innovative two-disc opus which was her final collaboration with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Years ahead of its time in terms of context and conceptual reach, I'm A Rainbow was never released commercially by Geffen but was issued by Polygram in 1996.

In the years that followed, Donna Summer collaborated with an illustrious line-up of writers and producers including Quincy Jones, Michael Omartian, and England's Stock Aitken & Waterman. Her stream of hits never stopped, from the richly uplifting "State of Independence" to the anthems "She Works Hard For The Money" and "This Time I Know It's For Real."

Endless Summer (1994) was not just a greatest hits retrospective, but an invaluable primer for any student of a vital era in pop music history. The album included a joyous new track, "Melody Of Love," which became Billboard's Number One dance record of the year. Nineteen ninety-four closed with the critically acclaimed Christmas Spirit, a collection of holiday standards and Summer-penned originals recorded with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

In 1995, Donna Summer returned to the road for successful tours of the US and Brazil; these shows brought out legions of fans in both countries and earned critical raves. The tour continued in 1996, as the four-time Grammy Award winning singer headlined a cross-country summer package which made stops at many of the major amphitheaters and "sheds" including New York's Jones Beach, Detroit's Pine Knob, and Chastain Park in Atlanta.

As Robert Hilburn noted in an August, 1995 Los Angeles Times review of her sold-out heading show at the Universal Amphitheater. "Donna Summer's name was a powerful magnet on the marquee in the late 1970's, when she turned out some of the most appealing and well crafted dance-minded records of the era. But is there still an audience for the one-time "Queen of Disco" at a time when pop music is dominated by grunge and hip-hop? Absolutely."

In late 1996, Donna Summer joined a cast of fellow superstars in the ABC network special celebrating the 25th anniversary of Disney World. She also recorded the theme from The Hunchback of Notre Dame for the Disney children's album Mouse House. In December, Donna and duet partner Bruce Roberts sang the title song from the Universal motion picture Daylight, starring Sylvester Stallone.

In 1997, when NARAS created a new Grammy award category for Best Dance Recording, the first winner was "Carry On" by Donna Summer-the singer's fifth career Grammy. Once she was the Queen of Disco, but today Donna Summer's realm is the whole world of pop music.

After 20 years as a singer and songwriter, Donna Summer remains an inspiration and influence. To cite just one example: Her Top Ten Pop hit of 1977. "I Feel Love," became a Top 10 Billboard Dance chart hit all over again in October 1995. This updated version, recorded in London with new vocals by Summer and a remix by Rollo and Sister Bliss, also topped The UK dance chart for five weeks and became a Top 5 UK pop hit.

Beyond her recording and performing career, Donna Summer is an accomplished visual artist whose work has been shown at exhibitions and galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, and Miami. In 1999, the art of Donna Summer is being shown in Japan in a special exhibition sponsored by filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

The Donna Summer story began on New Year's Eve, when Donna Adrian Gaines was born in the Dorchester section of Boston. Growing up in a family of five sisters and one brother, she created a unique identity by exploring an early interest in music. A young follower of gospel legend Mahalla Jackson, Donna first tested her voice at the age of eight, performing with church choirs. "It was then that I knew I had been given a very special gift from God," she recalls. "It was just a matter of how to best use it."

At the age of 18, Summer moved to New York in search of a career in entertainment. An audition to replace Melba Moore in the Broadway hit Hair led to a prime spot in the show's road company, which eventually landed the young singer in a German production of this classic musical theater work. After a year, she switched to the Viennese cast of the show. "That led to my joining the Vienna Folk Opera," Donna recalls. "While I was with them, I appeared in productions of Showboat and Porgy And Bess."

Donna Summer returned to Germany and continued her budding musical theater career, performing in productions of Godspell and The Me Nobody Knows. She also began doing studio work singing background on records and cutting demos. During a demo session for a Three Dog Night song, Donna met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Her first single with the duo was called "Hostage," and became a sizable hit in the Netherlands, France and Belgium. At around this time Donna married actor Helmut Sommor, a union which later ended in divorce. She kept the name, however, anglicizing its spelling. Several other European hits followed, though none were released in the US.

In 1975, Bellotte, Moroder and Donna Summer created the epic song "Love To Love You Baby." When the track began stirring up club reaction in France, American record executive Neil Bogart took notice and licensed it to his fledgling Casablanca label. When edited down to the length of a seven-inch single from its original 16-plus minutes, "Love To Love You Baby" rose to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 The creative credibility of a new musical genre and the career of its key figure took flight.

The success of "Love To Love You Baby" triggered a series of Donna Summer albums that would brilliantly blend the primal groove urgency of disco and funk with symphonic strings and soaring, dramatic vocals. Hardcore club DJs took delight in expansive epics like "Spring Affair," "Try Me (I Know We Can Make It)," and "Could It Be Magic," while pop radio programmers indulged in less lengthy but equally compelling odes like "I Love You," "MacArthur Park," and "Hot Stuff." And "Last Dance," the Academy Award-winning theme of the film Thank God It's Friday, remains a shining moment of Donna's career.

For booking information
CLICK HERE or call: 888-773-2539 (888.SPEAK.EZ)


Speak Easy Entertainment is a full service entertainment company based in Chicago, IL. providing bands, orchestras, and other musical entertainment for weddings and other special events, including corporate and private parties. Featuring “Sway Chicago”- Chicago's hippest high-energy dance band playing a variety of music from Motown, Soul, Disco, Rock, Latin and Big band. “Speak Easy Swing”- Chicago's premier big band. Whether it's 40's big band or 50's Jump blues, Speak Easy can swing it! Covering artists like: Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Brian Setzer, etc. “Kimberly Gordon Quartet”- One of Chicago’s most sought after female jazz vocalists specializing in torch songs with material from Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Judy Garland, Billie Holliday, etc. “Skyline Strings”- Providing the most elegant classical music for your ceremony, cocktail hour or dinner.,
Copyright © 2000 Speak Easy Entertainment
All rights reserved.