At one time in my life, Donna Summer was my everything. She was my first major musical crush as a kid. She was the first singer whose presence, persona and catalog of music reached through the speakers and spoke to me. She was half of the pioneering soundtrack that gave rise to EDM, and she lit up every room she entered with an unforgettable smile. Today, after a long battle with lung cancer, her body had to go while the things she helped to create in her spirit remained here. I try to take a Zen approach to death, but sometimes it’s not enough to kill the feeling of loss.
A 5-time Grammy winner, Donna was doubly blessed — unerringly sexy and possessed of a vocal skill few ever matched. She was icon of first R&B, a larger-than-life figure in gay culture, synonymous with disco and the 1970’s as we lived it. Despite the backlash that took place in disco and against gay culture in the early 1980’s, Donna Summer moved through the changes that took place with grace. Alongside super producer Giorgio Moroder, Donna Summer created much more than just songs that shaped an era — her presence defined the era itself.
I don’t know how many times I’ve played Donna Summer records in my entire life; I know that I learned how to sing soul and R&B by singing along to her records over and over in my room. I roller skated to every hit she ever sang on, I watched videos of her live appearances, and I took great care to collect nearly everything she ever recorded. The kids at summer camp used to tease me and call me “disco” for listening to “Heaven Knows”, “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls”. I survived a year of military school listening to ‘The Wanderer’ on cassette. I have but to reflect on these childhood memories and how many contained her music.
I’m older now and nobody teases me about being ‘disco’ anymore — instead, they call me and ask me to DJ their parties and weddings. Because of Donna Summer, I have probably listened to more disco music than you could ever imagine and had many great loves in my life. But in all those years, my love for Donna Summer never waned. If there’s a heaven, guarantee you Donna Summer is there. Donna, whom I never had the chance to meet: my love for you is not gone with your passing. I’m always going to miss you. My condolences to your friends, family and the millions you inspired in one way or another. Thank you for everything.
::: See Also ::: Donna Summer Saw and Sounded Bliss (MTV Hive)