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A Brief Tribute to Donna Summer

May 17, 2012

Meeting Donna Summer after a concert at Mohegan Sun Casino

First of all, let me apologize for neglecting my blog over the last week. Landlords and utility companies apparently don’t consider “I was busy blogging” a good enough excuse to defer payment.

I was getting ready for a job interview this morning and tried like hell to avoid going to the computer – the unpredictability of Los Angeles traffic and my masterful procrastination skills have already teamed up to give me a reputation for tardiness and I don’t need my first words to a potential new boss to be an excuse or an apology. Of course, I had to look at the computer to double-check the address and time of my appointment and when I did I saw something that I couldn’t avoid. Donna Summer – the queen of disco – passed away this morning.

Even if disco isn’t your thing, Donna Summer had an impact on so many other genres of music and other recording artists.  You may not love her, but she is one of those singers that nobody hates either.  Maybe a few of her songs get overplayed, but I would encourage anyone that isn’t that familiar with any of her music outside of the #1 hits to do a little digging through YouTube.  You’ll find something you like.

But if you want a history lesson or a truly touching and informative tribute just do a quick search, they are already everywhere.  I don’t have time nor is it my skill to write biographies.

Although I always enjoyed Donna Summer’s music, I doubt I would have ever appreciated her as much as I do if it weren’t for dating a fanatic and seeing her in concert twice. Those two concerts are what defined my appreciation for her as one of the greatest singers of all time.

How many times have you gone to a concert or seen a recording artist you love perform live on television and wondered if it is even the same person singing on the CD in your car? There are many aspects of being a great performer, but the sad reality is that technology has come so far that a good recording engineer can record people farting and turn it into a rendition of Mahler worthy of the London Symphony Orchestra.  And decades of belting night after night takes its toll on even the best voices – have you heard Barry Manilow sing recently? Not to mention another legend we recently lost; Whitney Houston (if Heaven has a gospel choir then I’ll be signing up for that church as soon as I argue my way past the pearly white gate.)

Anyway, my point is that I had the good fortune of seeing Donna Summer in concert twice late in her career – and she sounded (and looked) absolutely amazing.  And I have an ear for excessively tweaked vocals; this was not Paris Hilton style vocal magic, this was the real deal.  Each time I left wondering how she managed to keep her voice after so many years and so many concerts.

Ok, I have to stop; I still have an interview to get to. I’m not going to be cliché and end this post with a YouTube video of “Last Dance” that just feels silly and overdone – and god knows Ms. Summer must be beyond sick of that song anyway. If you do have a few minutes, a better tribute would be to find a Donna Summer number you have never heard before and take a listen, you won’t be disappointed.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2012 3:46 pm

    The loss of Donna Summer is indeed a huge one. Thanks so much for posting. I would say more, but I am indeed numb from so many musical losses. We also loss the “Godfather of Go Go” Chuck Brown (I Feel Like Bustin’ Loose) on yesterday. For the Black community, we seem to be losing them in couplets that seemed to start with the 2008 Saturday death of comedian Bernie Mac, followed by composer Isaac Hayes that Sunday August 10th. This pattern of close proximity has not let up in the last four years. I am indeed weary.

    • May 17, 2012 4:36 pm

      Thanks Leslye. I have to wonder if there is a trend or I am just getting older.

      • May 17, 2012 4:53 pm

        Lord, I hope not too old Matt. You are still rather young. I have passed the half century mark (and that’s all I admitting to), so I can expect to lose a few childhood and adolescent music icons. Maybe this is a signal from the universe for those of us who are left behind to become more creative!

  2. Linda Wolfe permalink
    May 18, 2012 10:55 am

    Thanks for the lovely remembrance, Matt. Like Leslye, I’ve passed mid-century and remember enjoying Donna Summer’s music and her positive personality during my college years. Oh how she made us all dance, dance, dance the night away. I’m grateful to her for the joy, and pray she has found true peace and happiness. Thanks for taking the time to blog and I’m praying your interview goes well. Blessings to her, you, and all her fans.

    Linda Wolfe

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