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Donna Summer
© Donna Summer / Sony
Donna Summer dead at 63

By Brent Lang

Legendary disco diva Donna Summer has died, a spokesman confirmed to TheWrap. 

The "Hot Stuff" and "Last Dance" singer was 63.

No cause of death was given, but TMZ reports Summer had been battling cancer. 

In a statement, Summer's family praise the singer's religious faith.

"While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy," the statement reads. "Words truly can't express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time." 

Bing: Listen to Donna Summer's biggest hits

Summer's soaring mezzo-soprano voice and catchy lyrics provided the soundtrack to the 1970s, making it nearly impossible to think of many of that decade's cultural touchstones, be they bellbottoms or disco balls, without calling to mind her hit singles. 

Among the hits that helped cement Summer's legacy were "She Works Hard for the Money," "Bad Girls" and "Dim All the Lights." She would earn five Grammy awards and 17 nominations over the course of her career. 

In a 2003 interview with The New York Times, Summer said she felt that her propulsive, candy-coated dance numbers captured the national zeitgeist of the 1970s and helped people turn the page on the chaotic social upheaval of the previous decade.

"In that period people were in a dance mood," Summer said. "They wanted to be lifted up, they wanted to have fun, they didn't want to think.''

Photos: In Memoriam: Donna Summer | Video: Remembering Donna Summer

''You were coming out of the Vietnam war, the 60's , the protest era, and I was coming out of it as well,'' she added. ''I think people were just in a different mindset. When dance music came out, with that beat and that movement, it was a switch.''

Yet while Summer may have downplayed her political significance, one group who embraced her music was the gay community. Emboldened by the Stonewall Riots, Summer's anthems of empowerment struck a chord with a group that was beginning to agitate for greater political rights and freedoms. 

That relationship endured throughout her career, but it did undergo significant strain after reports surfaced that Summer made anti-gay remarks about AIDS victims in the mid-1980s and called the disease divine retribution.

She claimed that she never made the statements and would later sue New York magazine in 1991 for libel when it reprinted the allegations.

In a 1989 letter to an AIDS activist group, Summer wrote, "I was unknowingly protected by those around me from the bad press and hate letters. ... If I have caused you pain, forgive me."

Though Summer and disco were nearly interchangeable, she proved herself to be a musical chameleon, one who survived the end of the Studio 54 era and continued to produce chart-topping songs into the 1980s and beyond. 

Over the ensuing three decades, Summer branched into new genres, such as new wave, with her 1980 album "The Wanderer"; swing on her poorly received 1991 album "Mistaken Identity"; and gospel with her 1994 holiday album "Christmas Spirit."

The singer is survived by her husband, singer and producer Bruce Sudano; their daughters, Brooklyn and Amanda; and Summer's daughter, Mimi, from a previous marriage.

On Facebook: Pay your respects to Donna Summer

Related articles from TheWrap: 

Jun 26, 2013 2:07PM
It is just over a year later & it STILLS feels like I just got the news.  While I won't waste my space with my favourite song(s), tour(s), etc...I WILL thank the family for ALL the sacrifices made so the entire world could be entertained!...Thanks so very much!...With gratitude, Mr Fraylon...Oh, all right: "Supernatural Love" (remix) was a life-defining moment for me...also I really, REALLY loved "Looking Up" from "The Wanderer"...I couldn't resist! :-)!
May 21, 2012 1:49PM
Donna Summers contribution to the music world is greater then what most D.J.s today know. Her music and that of Diana Ross were mixed and extended back in the day when that was new. Men gay/str8/bi Black,White and Hispanic would battle dancing to their music inside and outside the clubs. Hip-Hop/House, Pop-locking and Break Dancing and Voguing GOT IT'S BIRTH from ROSS,SUMMERS and later Madonna intorduced  Voguing which was an omage to Ross to the World. Listen to "I Feel Love" the second half of the song...hip hop, hip hop, hip hop, pop pop, pop pop, pop lock, pop lock, break dancing, electric boogalu, electric slide. This is Summer's Legacy to the Music Industry that she and Ross has yet to get proper credit for. My sympathies to Summer's family.
May 19, 2012 11:37PM
What the hell does this have to do with Whitney?
They were both talented women...why can't you give someone respect without putting down or comparing to someone else? 
Don't bother responding, I won't be checking back for a comment
R.I.P. Donna you will be missed
May 19, 2012 12:13PM
Just loved her...a class act; prefered her to Whitney..... 
May 18, 2012 9:39AM


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