Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Donna Summer, 63, the Influential Queen of Disco

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Donna Summer, 63, the Influential Queen of Disco

Article excerpt

Donna Summer was a multiple Grammy winner who became a superstar in the 1970s with hits like "Last Dance."

Donna Summer, the multimillion-selling singer and songwriter whose hits captured both the giddy hedonism of the 1970s disco era and the feisty female solidarity of the early 1980s, died Thursday at her home in Naples, Florida. She was 63.

The cause was cancer, her publicist, Brian Edwards, said.

With her doe eyes, cascade of hair and sinuous dance moves, Ms. Summer became the queen of disco -- the music's glamorous public face -- as well as an idol with a substantial gay following. Her voice, airy and ethereal or brightly assertive, sailed over dance floors and leapt from radios from the mid-'70s well into the '80s.

She riffled through styles as diverse as funk, electronica, rock and torch songs as she piled up 14 Top 10 singles in the United States, among them "Love to Love You Baby," "Bad Girls," "Hot Stuff," "Last Dance" and "She Works Hard for the Money." In the late '70s she had three double albums in a row that reached No. 1, and each sold more than a million copies.

Her combination of a church-rooted voice and up-to-the-minute dance beats was a template for 1970s disco, and, with her producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, she pioneered electronic dance music with the synthesizer pulse of "I Feel Love" in 1977, a sound that pervades 21st-century pop. Her own recordings have been sampled by, among others, Beyonce, the Pet Shop Boys, Justice and Nas.

Ms. Summer won Grammy Awards for dance music, R&B, rock and gospel. Her recorded catalog spans the orgasmic moans of her first hit, "Love to Love You Baby," the streetwalker chronicle of "Bad Girls," the feminist moxie of "She Works Hard for the Money" and the religious devotion of "Forgive Me," a gospel song that earned her another Grammy.

Through it all, Ms. Summer's voice held on to an optimistic spirit and a determination to flourish. She garnered loyal fans. …

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