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Disco diva Donna Summer dies at 63

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 20th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Offstage, she was an outspoken fundamentalist Christian, fiercely dedicated to her children and husband. Onstage, she was the one singer most closely associated with the hedonistic excesses of the Seventies, seen frequently in slinky gown, belting out ballads of questionable virtue. Disco diva Donna Summer lost her battle with cancer last week. She was 63 years old.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Summer was in a touring stage production of "Hair" in Germany when music producers sought out her vocal abilities for a new brand of music that was sweeping European dance floors. Her first big hit was "Loved to Love You Baby," an extended dance mix where Summer coos, moans and makes suggestive noises. Inherently a very religious woman, Summer agreed to record the song - with the lights off - with no one watching. A worldwide smash, Summer followed up "Love to Love You Baby" with her undisputed classic, "I Feel Love."

Minimal in the extreme, "I Feel Love" consists of a repetitive moog synthesizer beat and the lyrics - "It's so good - I feel love." It can be argued that the dance artists before and after, Lady Gaga and Madonna included, have tired to match this song's power and simplicity. "I Feel Love" remains the most futuristic song to hit the radio, ironic in the fact that it was recorded in 1977, 35 years ago.

Summer was never keen on how her producers pushed a manufactured, sexy image on her in order to sell records. When her secretary was arrested by police for alleged prostitution - by merely walking down the street, Summer retaliated with her double album classic, "Bad Girls." Dressed as a prostitute on the album's sleeve, Summer rose to the opportunity to protest the marginalization and commercialization of women as sexual objects.

With the waning of the disco era, Summer took on a more practical persona and sang about the plight of working women with "She Works Hard for the Money," her last successful single. Summer later alienated her fan base of working women and homosexual men when she made a few offhanded remarks to the press. In later years, she was welcomed back on the touring circuit by her original fans. She set aside the previous remarks by saying, "If I had been thrown in jail for saying what I did, I would have been out of prison a long time ago!"

While Summer never did drugs, smoke or drank, she succumbed to lung cancer after a lengthy battle. She is survived by husband of 32 years Bruce Sudano, their daughters Brooklyn, 31, and Amanda, 29, plus Mimi, her eldest daughter from her first husband, actor Helmut Sommer.

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