In light of hearing the news of the legendary Donna Summer's passing from cancer today at the age of 63, I thought I would repost a tribute I wrote about her artistic impact and her music. While she was technically not of my "era" I loved her sound, her personality, style, grace and beauty, and recognize and respect the influence she has had on music and pop culture. She was a true artist. R.I.P Donna Summer.
I've always felt Donna Summer has never gotten her due. Yeah, she's been recognized (or in some cases, almost typecast) as the Queen of Disco for eons, but whenever the great divas of that era are mentioned--Aretha, Barbara, Diana, Patti, Chaka, Cher, and so on--Ms. Donna always seems to be left out. I'll admit that even I made the mistake of leaving her out of my "Divas Live" post a while back. But being a good gay and diva lover, a grievous wrong must be righted.
The only reason I can think of as to why she isn't mentioned in the same breath as often as the aforementioned Aretha, Chaka, Diana and Patti by young R&B starlets in particular is because the majority of her music was rooted in Europop and dance, and was made in a time that is often looked back on with either disdain (Disco Sucks!) or as a novelty/guilty pleasure. Personally I feel her music transcends disco, both as a genre and musical era. "I Feel Love," "On The Radio," "Last Dance," "Bad Girls," "Love To Love You Baby," "Hot Stuff" and other classics are not just great dance songs, but great songs period.
Furthermore Donna was a trailblazer musically, her dance-pop sound and mainstream success paving the way for the next generation of divas like Madonna, Whitney, Janet and Beyonce. Hell, she helped make dance music mainstream, and her influence over the genre is still felt almost four decades later. Moreover, her fashion was eclectic as well, especially for a black woman in the 1970's music industry. True she wasn't gettin' all intergalactic on our asses like Labelle (you can't beat Patti when it comes to being outlandish), but you can still see glimpses of her style--the big hair, berets, scandalous gowns--in 80's artists like Jody Whatley (don't act you never sang "I"m Lookin' For A New Love" in the mirror :) and the aforementioned Janet, as well as modern day singers like Bey and Kelly (view the pics below for confirmation :).
Anyway, get into a few of Donna classics.