Thursday, April 11, 2013
Universal Music Enterprises’ Acclaimed ‘ICON’ Series Continues with Donna Summer ICON, in Stores Today
LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Today, one week before Donna Summer’s posthumous induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) releases Donna Summer ICON, a new single-disc collection featuring 11 of the legendary singer’s biggest hits and fan favorites. Donna Summer rocketed to international superstardom in the mid-1970s, working with producer Giorgio Moroder on a revolutionary sound that combined elements of R&B, soul, pop, funk, rock, disco and avant-garde electronica, and helping to catapult underground dance music out of the clubs of the U.S. and Europe to the pinnacles of sales and radio charts around the world. Maintaining an unbroken string of hits throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, most of which she wrote, Summer maintains the record for the most consecutive double albums to hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts (three), and she was the first female artist to have four singles hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 within a 12-month period (three as a solo artist and one as a duo with Barbra Streisand). Summer earned a total of 32 hit singles on the Hot 100, with 14 of those reaching the Top 10. Between 1976 and the end of 1982, she had more Top 10 hits -- 12 -- than any other act, and between 1976 and 1984, she had at least one Top 40 hit on the chart each year. In 1975, Summer’s international smash "Love to Love You Baby" rose to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, launching her as a key figure of the then-emerging disco genre. The song’s success paved the way for other border-crossing chart singles, including "MacArthur Park," "Bad Girls," "Hot Stuff," "Dim All The Lights," "On The Radio," and "Enough Is Enough," as well as the GRAMMY and Academy Award®-winning theme song "Last Dance" from the film ‘Thank God It's Friday,’ a Top 5 Billboard Hot 100 and R&B chart hit which remains a milestone in Summer's career. A five-time GRAMMY® winner, Donna Summer was the first artist to win the award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female (1979, "Hot Stuff"), as well as the first-ever recipient of the GRAMMY for Best Dance Recording (1997, "Carry On"). In 2004, she became one of the first inductees into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in New York City, as both an Artist Inductee and a Record Inductee (for 1977's "I Feel Love"). In 1980, Summer became the first artist to sign with David Geffen's new label, Geffen Records, leaving her disco days behind and moving into the next phase of her career. In the years that followed, Summer collaborated with writers and producers such as Quincy Jones, Michael Omartian, and England's dance-pop production compound Stock Aitken Waterman. She released a steady stream of hits, from "State of Independence," featuring Michael Jackson on backing vocals, to the abiding feminist anthem "She Works Hard For The Money," one of radio’s most-played songs of all-time, and the infectious "This Time I Know It's For Real." In addition to her five GRAMMY Awards, Summer earned six American Music Awards, three consecutive No. 1 platinum double albums (she holds the record as the only solo artist, male or female, ever to accomplish this), 11 gold albums, four No. 1 singles on Billboard's Hot 100 Chart, three platinum singles, and 12 gold singles. It is estimated that more than 150 million copies of Summer’s albums have been sold worldwide, and she is ranked at No. 24 on Billboard Magazine’s “Hot 100 Artists of All Time” (50th Anniversary issue). In May 2012, Donna Summer died at the age of 63. A who’s who of entertainment, including many of her contemporaries (Bette Midler, Nile Rodgers, Deborah Harry, Duran Duran, Ian Schrager, Sheila E, and Gloria Estefan, among others) and younger artists she inspired (Questlove, Tom Morello, Katharine McPhee, Flea, Mary J. Blige, and Timbaland, among others), reacted to the news of her death with a sustained flurry of condolences and memories shared via media interviews and social media messages. Summer’s sultry, jubilant, and free-spirited songs are timeless anthems that continue to influence musicians from each new generation. The 28th Annual Rock and Rock Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 18. The induction ceremony will be broadcast on HBO on Saturday, May 18 at 9 pm EST/PST. Donna Summer: ICON Hot Stuff [Album Version] Bad Girls [Album Version] She Works Hard For The Money [Edited Single Version] On The Radio [Album Version] Love To Love You Baby [Single Edit] I Feel Love [Edit] MacArthur Park [Single Version] Heaven Knows [Single Version] Dim All The Lights [Edit] Could It Be Magic [Single Version] Last Dance [Single Version] On March 19, UMe released 15 new collections in the ICON series from many of music’s most popular artists, including Trace Adkins, Alien Ant Farm, The Beach Boys, Pat Benatar, blink-182, Chris Cagle, Glen Campbell, Captain & Tennille, Belinda Carlisle, Everclear, Liberace, New Found Glory, Poison, Something Corporate, and André Rieu. Bon Jovi ICON was released on March 26. With its history and vast catalog of artists, UMe’s continuing ICON series showcases music from the most popular, iconic and influential artists of all time.
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“It was a tough year, but she fought a good fight,” said Kasha, who wept throughout her interview with BlackAmericaweb. “It was our constant prayers that helped her last this long.”
Kasha said she met Summer in 1978 when the singer “walked into my house for a Bible study.” After Summer started painting, Kasha became her agent.
“She was always helping others. She could never pass a homeless person without giving 10 or 25 dollars. If we ran into four or five homeless people, she did the same thing. She was very generous.”
Art dealer Carolyn Solomon of Las Vegas saw Summer this past Fall and said, “She looked terrific. She seemed great. She had her great sense of humor and laughed a lot.”
In interviews, people speak of Summer’s influence on music history but also of the kindness and upbeat spirit of a woman known for her humanity.
Summer died of cancer Thursday morning in Naples, Fla. Her family released a statement saying they “are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy. Words truly can’t express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time,” the statement said.
The singer was living in Englewood, Fla., with her husband Bruce Sudano at the time of her death. She had three daughters and four grandchildren. She was 63.
“God had to create disco music so that I could be born and be successful,” Summer once said.
Her songs were anthems that captivated a generation caught in a multi-faceted cultural revolution when people reconstructed views on issues such as sex, race and war. On ABC News, Diane Sawyer called Summer’s songs “a call to freedom.” The singer helped usher in the dance music known as disco and perhaps more than any artist became affiliated with it.
“She was a pioneer in the genre,” said Scooter Magruder, host of “Don’t Forget the Blues” on WPFW-FM in Washington, D.C. and manager of Roadhouse Oldies in Silver Spring, Md. “People still come in asking for her music even though they don’t play disco on the radio.”
She was a five-time Grammy winner who broke records that included being the first artist to win the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance – Female; as well as the first-ever recipient of the Grammy for Best Dance Recording. In 1978, she became the first female artist in history to have a No. 1 single (MacArthur Park) and a No. 1 album (Live and More) simultaneously on the Billboard charts.
Patti LaBelle told BlackAmericaweb: “Today the world has lost a precious talent. Donna Summer was an amazing singer, songwriter and performer whose music changed the world in so many ways. She was fearless and fierce and she was one of those special artists whose music truly broke down barriers and brought people together. She will be missed, but never forgotten.”
Singer Aretha Franklin also released a statement calling Summer “a fine performer and a very nice person.” I will miss her very much,” said vocalist Chaka Khan. “Donna and I had a friendship for over 30 years. She is one of the few black women I could speak German with and she is one of the few friends I had in this business.”
Richard Harrington, former music critic at The Washington Post, said Summer’s “typecast” as “disco queen” was a burden, limiting the way people viewed her musicality. This meant once disco was declared dead, so was Summer’s career.
But Summer seemed to have different plans for her life, anyway. She grew tired of the disco queen title, saying in a 1999 interview, “I appreciate the reference and that I’ve gotten to be a part of people’s lives. But now I have to make a new title for myself. That diva thing is getting a little used.”
By this time Summer had started painting. She compared her paintings to recordings. On the website for Jack Gallery, the singer says, “With painting, whatever I put down on the canvas is there when I wake up the next day and forever. In that way, it’s more like a recording than an event—more permanent, like a live album of a show, rather than the show itself.”
Her death surprised Carolyn Solomon, President of S² Art Center in Las Vegas, whose company has published some of Summer’s artwork since the early ‘80s. She said she last saw Summer in the fall when she visited their gallery.
“She was looking great and working on projects,” said Solomon, whose voice faltered. “She was with Giorgio Moroder, who produced a lot of her albums I guess every artist’s work is personal but I think in her case she approached it from a personal sensibility because she was self-trained—and she painted about her feelings. She wasn’t trying to be anything other than herself in her work.
“I know people say nice things when someone dies. But I swear she was super. She was the warmest, with the biggest hugs.” Solomon paused to sigh. “Never in all these years have I heard a negative word come from her mouth, whether things were going good or bad. You always felt she was in an up spirit.”
Bobby Bennett, a former disc jockey and founder of one of XM’s major radio stations, “Soul Street,” said he had preconceived notions about the woman called a “diva. I thought she would be stuck-up, stinky; she was very pretty,” said Bennett, who interviewed Summer several times and saw her on other occasions. “She was always gracious and nice. And during disco, when a lot of the sound then was techno, she had a voice.”
Summer seemed to reject the big ego syndrome that plagues many famous people. She once commented on the impact of reaching a pinnacle of success by saying, “For me, after I had success on that level, my next goals were personal, they were my family, go on it’s time now, ‘You’ve done this, you’ve proven this, let’s get on with your real-life.”
Her good friend Kasha, speaking from her home in Beverly Hills, said, “She loved being a grandmother. She loved singing and painting. She was spiritual, a good Christian lady. She was married to a sweet, sweet man.” Of Summer’s husband, songwriter Bruce Sudano, Kasha said, “He is having a tough time. He’s been so strong for so long.
“She was always giving. I was on flight with her from London and the head of the Salvation Army was on the plane and Donna took out all the cash she had. She didn’t count it. She folded it and put it in a napkin and said, ‘Please, would you take this’ She did it anonymously,” Kasha said, crying before apologizing because she could not talk any longer.
Summer’s funeral will be Monday in Nashville. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Summer’s honor to the Salvation Army.