The Public Record 02/15/19
Hello and welcome back to disco February in The Public Records. Last week we started off fairly hi-NRG with der Großvater of disco, Giorgio Moroder. This week we will continue along this vein by featuring a wonderful vocalist without whom none of this would have been possible – Donna Summer.
LaDonna Adrian Gaines, stage name Donna Summer, was born December 31st, 1948 in Boston, MA. She began her craft at a young age in church when by a chance no-show of a vocal allowed her substitute. This then inspired her to pursue performance in high school where she partook in school musicals and was a popular figure. Shortly before graduation, she moved to New York to be the front woman for the blues band Black Crow. Record labels showed much interest in her, but unfortunately for the rest of the group, only her and the Black Crow dissolved.
This hiccup didn’t dissuade Donna from following her chosen path and she began auditioning and landed a role in the musical ‘Hair’. However, it was in the Munich production. This led to her moving to Germany, learning German, continuing with acting, moving to Vienna, Austria, acting and singing, and finally ending up as a session musician with Giorgio Moroder’s Musicland Studios.
When Donna began working with Giorgio Moroder and his long time producer partner, Pete Bellote, the three hit it off and began a long term working relationship. In 1975, Summer pitched the idea what was going to become the song ‘Love To Love You’. After they finished recording, Moroder approached the president of Casablanca, Neil Bogart, records to try score an American release. Bogart tested the song effectiveness out by playing it at an industry party. It was so popular with the crowd, that Summer and Moroder/Bellote were signed and asked for a much longer track.; So in 1975 the seventeen minute discotheque version was born, and Summer and Moroder were coming to America.
Starting in 1976, Summer was constantly charting and winning awards. By 1979, she was charting triple platinum and had gained world wide fame and in that year she played eight sold out nights at the Universal Ampitheather in Los Angeles.
The eighties saw some contractual disputes and Summer switching labels, but she continued producing music and winning awards; her third grammy and a new MTV’s nomination for Best Female Video and Best Choreography for the Music Video awards for 1984 also becoming the first African-American woman to have a video played on MTV’s ‘heavy rotation’. She continued to see success and despite a boycott incident due to some controversial remarks, Summer continued creating a producing until the time of her death in 2012. In 2013, she was inducted into the Rock’N’Roll hall of fame.
Our album of the week is 1977’s ‘I Remember Yesterday’ (Casablanca, 1977). The album was a concept album which reworked classic songs from the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s in with several original pop disco tracks. It was ‘I Feel Love’ that really sold this album and continued her on the hi-NRG path that was winning the world over. She peaked at number six on the U.S.’ Hot 100 singles chart and number one in the U.K. ‘I Feel Love’ cemented Summer as the leading female disco voice and kept it there.
This special lady deserves to be enjoyed with a very special gin with both getting their starts in Germany. Donna Summer is best enjoyed with a Monkey 47 and Elderflower tonic. Tschüss!