Donna Summer, (born LaDonna Adrian Gaines, December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012), pop singer, actress.

Donna Summer was born in Boston and grew up in a devout family. She started out singing in church before landing a role in the European cast of the musical Hair. She also sang in the European touring cast of Godspell.

Pairing up with composer/producer Giorgio Moroder in the mid-70’s, the two went on to create a string of disco hits and established some of the earliest electronic dance music that no resounds in clubs throughout the world. Her first hit, “Love to Love You Baby” became infamous for its sensuality and established her as a sex icon in popular music, a role that she was often uncomfortable with. Subsequent disco hits included “I Feel Love,” “MacArthur Park and “Heaven Knows”. She appeared in the film Thank God It’s Friday and scored another smash hit with the song “Last Dance”. Her next album, Bad Girls, produced 3 more hits, including the title track, “Hot Stuff” and “Dim All The Lights”. She followed this up with a greatest hits package that included two new songs, “On The Radio” and a duet with Barbra Streisand, No More Tears. She became the first artist to have three successive #1 double-albums, and had 8 Top 5 singles within a 2 year span, (4 of them reaching #1). She also won 5 Grammy Awards. Due to this success, she became known as the “Queen of Disco” .

Summer wanted to expand her music beyond disco and during the 1980’s she had additional hits that were more in the New Wave genre, such as “The Wanderer” and “She Works Hard For The Money”. After suffering from drug problems and depression, she returned to her roots and became a Christian. Several of her songs reflected her new-found faith, such as I Believe In Jesus and “Unconditional Love”.  She also had one more Top 10 hit in 1989 with “This Time I Know It’s For Real”. During the 1990’s, Summer had a recurring guest role in several episodes of the sitcom Family Matters. A live concert she did for VH1 in 1999 became one of the networks highest rated shows and produced a hit album for her. Her last album, Crayons, was released in 2008. Donna Summer died at the age of 63 at her home in Florida from lung cancer. Upon news of her death, accolades poured in from some of music’s biggest stars, including Dolly Parton, Janet Jackson, Quincy Jones, Gloria Estefan, and even President Obama, for whom Summer had sung at the Nobel Prize concert in 2009. She is remembered for her remarkable voice and for paving the way for later stars such as Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.

Visit the official Donna Summer website here.

“In the 70s, she reigned over the disco era and kept the disco jumping. Who will forget ‘Last Dance.’ A fine performer and a very nice person.”

— Aretha Franklin