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iOldies Music Store Home > Artist Biographies > Donna Summer

Donna Summer

Artists - Donna Summer

Picture of Artists - Donna Summer


Artist Biographies: Donna Summer

Donna Summer was born on December 31, 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts and died on May 17, 2012. The Donna Summer story is filled with many twists and turs on her way to startdom. Her parents were devout Christians and had a large family, where Donna Summer was one of seven children. She began singing in her church at a very young age. By the time Donna Summer was a teenager, she had already been a part of several musical groups. One group included her cousin and sister and they practiced singing and dancing to the popular Motown artists of the time, including Martha and the Vandelles and The Supremes.  Another influence on Donna Summer was Janis Joplin.


Donna dropped out of school in the late 1960s to pursue her passion for music. She briefly joined the group Crow as a lead singer, but they disbanded after arriving in New York. Donna Summer decided to try her luck on stage and auditioned for a Broadway role in Hair, but she lost out to Melba Moore. Donna was offered the same role for the European tour. She moved to Germany and appeared in many more musicals for the next few years.  She learned to speak German fluently and also started singing local and regional music for the area she lived in, making her a favorite amongst German nationals.


According to the Donna Summer story, she also worked as a studio session singer and performed in many smaller plays across the country. Donna Summer released a single in 1971 called “Sally Go Round the Roses” but it did not climb the charts or become a hit.


In 1972 Donna Summer married an Austrian actor named Helmuth Sommer. They had a daughter the next year in 1973. Donna and Helmuth were not married long and, though she did keep his last name. She changed the spelling and turned in to Donna Summer.


Donna had a long term relationship with German artist Peter Muhldorfer, who was also cited as the reason for the split with Sommer. They stayed together for several years but were never married.


In the early 70s Donna teamed up with Veit Marvos and provided the background vocals to his record released by Ariola. It was titled Nice to See You but the name credited was Gayn Pierre. Donna denied singing winging with the group, even though she had used that stage name before, when she was still married to Helmuth Sommer.


Donna returned to the US in the mid 1970s and began recording disco music. She often appeared at the famed Studio 54 club in New York City during the disco era, and combined with her popular music releases, she was dubbed the queen of disco. Some of her hits included Last Dance, Hot Stuff and No More Tears. Donna Summer was diagnosed with lung cancer and battled the disease for several years before succumbing to the illness.


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