Stars pay tribute to late disco diva Donna Summer
Published Friday, May 18, 2012 10:16AM EDT
Stars are paying tribute to Donna Summer a day after the 63-year-old disco diva died following her private battle with lung cancer.
The iconic American singer died at her home in Florida Thursday, leaving fans of her world groove inflected disco stylings in mourning.
Another giant of the disco era, Gloria Gaynor, said Summer's memory and "timeless music" will endure.
"She brought consistent, good, up-tempo, upbeat music for people to relieve themselves of the pressures of the day," Gaynor told CTV's Canada AM on Friday.
Speaking on the phone from Morocco where she's currently on tour, Gaynor reminisced about Summer and her impact on the music industry.
"Her legacy is music that is timeless," Gaynor said. "It's enjoyable music that moves your heart and moves your body."
Other celebrities have been looking back with wistful nostalgia at the career of this five-time Grammy winner too, reflecting on a career powered by such disco-era hits as "Last Dance," "Hot Stuff" and "Love to Love You Baby."
"This woman was the queen of disco and so much more," pop music icon Elton John said in a statement issued following the confirmation of Summer's death.
"Her records sound as good today as they ever did. That she has never been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a total disgrace especially when I see the second rate talent that has been inducted," he added.
"Few singers have impacted music & the world like Donna Summer! It's the end of the era," tweeted singer Gloria Estefan.
Trained initially in gospel singing, Summer remained one of the most definitive artists of 1970s, an era when strobe lights and shiny dance attire was de rigueur in dance clubs around the world.
From her throaty, mezzo-soprano voice to her confident sexuality on stage, Summer's music reflected a buoyant, joyful freedom that captured society's move towards sexual liberation in the 1970s.
Born in 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts, Summer made her singing debut at the age of 10 at the church that she attended with her family. Summer replaced a vocalist who had failed to show up for service.
From that fateful start, Summer launched her professional career in the late 1960s when she moved to Europe to sing in a production of the musical, "Hair."
Summer spent eight years overseas, performing in productions such as "Porgy and Bess" and "Godspell," before meeting producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte -- the men who helped Summer land her first record deal and release her album, "Lady of the Night," in 1974.
Summer went on to sell more than 20 million records during her career. She also became one of the first singers to have three consecutive double-disc records earn a No. 1 spot on the music charts.
Summer's music and distinctive style ultimately earned her the title "Queen of Disco" from critics and fans alike.
"It's nice to be the queen of something. They can call me what they want as long as they pay me," Summer told the New York Times in 1996.
According to Gaynor, Summer wasn't afraid to share the accolades either.
The two women had a mutual admiration for one another over the years and performed together on one occasion, Gaynor said, remembering her generosity of spirit throughout the years they knew each other.
"She once said ‘I may be the Queen of Disco, but Gloria Gaynor is the First Lady of Disco,'" she said.
"She was a wonderful talent. It's a great loss."