To many in my generation, Donna Summer's voice brought on a mix of elation and urgency. Hearing "Last Dance" meant that the party was just about over, and it's time to scramble for just that -- a last dance. Perhaps the school-dance chaperones were already starting to clean up, or the bar owner had her finger on the light switch, ready to give the universal signal for "you ain't gotta go home, but you got to get the heck up outta here." But I say elation because I always loved any occasion when Donna Summer's voice capped off the party.
Cancer claimed the life of the five-time Grammy Award-winning disco singer and her incredible voice today. She was famous for such hits as the (what I consider) feminist anthem "She Works Hard For the Money," "Bad Girls," "Love to Love You Baby," and countless others.
Born and raised in Boston, Summer grew up singing in church before joining a short-lived psychedelic rock band. After winning a role in a touring production of Hair, she moved to Germany, where she would meet Moroder. Their collaboration on the suggestive "Love to Love You Baby," which Summer sang with Marilyn Monroe's breathy singing style in mind, became a huge dancefloor hit after Casablanca Records' Neil Bogart requested a long version of the song – 17 minutes.
Summer went on to major success during the disco era, scoring Number One pop singles with "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls" and an unlikely version of Jimmy Webb's "MacArthur Park." In 2004 Summer was elected to the Dance Music Hall of Fame, and in 2009 she performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in honor of President Obama.
Asked upon the release of her 2008 album Crayons whether she felt vindicated by her longevity, Summer replied, "I don't think they made fun of my music as much as they made fun of some of the music that maybe came as a result of that whole genre. But I do think in the course of time it is nice to reestablish something and to say, 'Okay, this stood the test of time. . . ' I have nothing to prove to anyone. I just get out there and do my best, and those who love it, great. And those who don't, they'll move on to something else."