A GoPride Interview

Donna Summer

Donna Summer interview with ChicagoPride.com

Wed. August 19, 2009  by Windy City Times

Donna Summer

donna summer

Donna Summer’s career has spanned decades and crossed musical genres. Incorporating R&B, rock, gospel and, let’s not forget, disco, this artist was the first to have three consecutive double albums hit #1 on the Billboard charts. “Heaven knows” that Windy City Times had to talk to the original bad girl.

WCT: (Windy City Times) Hello, Donna. I have been studying up on your career and you originally started in musicals such as Godspell and Show Boat. Have you thought of doing any recently?

DS: (Donna Summer) I did write a musical about my life called “Ordinary Girl,” and it’s been going around and around for close to 10 years now. Last time it was going into production it literally blew apart because of 9/11. I just put it sleep for a while because it was very frustrating.

It’s like having a baby and it doesn’t come out. It’s like, “I am pregnant, give me birth!” After a while, you just have to get over it. As of late, I have another group of people that are interested in putting it on.

WCT: “Love to Love You Baby” was your first hit and then you career took off. Did you always want to be a singer?

DS: I wanted to be an actress and then singing came along. That’s the thing that opened the door for me. I went from singing in church to singing in a rock band. After that I went from New York to Europe, where I was acting. I got to do both sing and act in a musical called “Hair” which is now popular again. I was in the first German cast of that. From there I did four or five other musicals in Germany and then had my first hit record.

WCT: “I Feel Love” was so ahead of its time. Is there any musical genre that have wanted to try but haven’t?

DS: I would love to do an opera. I had written one with a friend, Nathan, and been kicking it around for a long time. [It is] a combination of real opera, rock and roll and every other kind of voice that you can imagine, all within the structure of this one musical piece. I think young people don’t like to go to the opera because they don’t like the way people sing, but it’s all the same. We should learn to teach our children to appreciate all of it as opposed to one thing or the other.

WCT: Were you able to attend Michael Jackson’s memorial?

DS: I was supposed to go but, unfortunately, I had a show in Paris. It was originally scheduled for the Thursday before but they kept shifting the date and it was impossible for me to go. The show had been sold out for so long I couldn’t cancel.

WCT: You recorded with him before on “State of Independence.” Any thoughts on Michael?

DS: I am heartbroken. For the first two weeks my brain was not even able to grasp the concept of no Michael. I was constantly breaking down crying and my husband was like, “Don’t go there.” I couldn’t fathom the thought of Michael being gone. I think it hit everyone the same way. It hit in waves. People couldn’t cope with the idea of his absence.

WCT: I like the fact that you have stuck to your guns as an artist over the years, sometimes disagreeing with music labels. It has been nice to not see you get pigeonholed.

DS: A lot of people think so because they go, “Here’s the queen of disco!” What I want to say is no. I am actually the first woman—not Black woman—but woman, period, to get a rock-and-roll Grammy. I don’t take it as an insult but I am still working and there are fields that I haven’t conquered yet. I won’t stop until someone says, “It’s over.” I am not going to say it, so I am going to keep going until I get there.

WCT: Talk about working hard for the money! So you never plan on retiring?

DS: I don’t think as a singer you need to retire unless you have health issues that prohibit you from performing at your max. I think if you are able to take care of yourself, you could probably sing for the rest of your life. It’s a joy.

WCT: Is there anyone you want to work with but haven’t?

DS: There are so many young and old musicians that are talented. I would like to work with James Taylor, John Mayer and Beyoncé. I can’t even name them all that I would like to with, there’s just too many.

WCT: I just saw Beyoncé in concert.

DS: I sure the show was fantastic. She’s quite the diva.

WCT: What I like about Crayons is that it sounds fresh and doesn’t sound like you are trying to do any of your older tunes. It sounds like you are stepping it up.

DS: Well, I am trying to. I have kids and I have ears and I see where music is going. I don’t want to stay back there. What’s the point? You have to try to be as current as you can be. Obviously the music industry has changed tremendously. It isn’t nearly as easy to have a hit record as it used to be. In my day they didn’t have the Internet and people weren’t downloading your songs for free. Now to have a hit is extremely difficult. For people to manage to do that is a bigger feather in their cap.

“Stamp your feet” for Donna Summer when she plays at The Venue, Horseshoe Casino (11999 Casino Center Drive SE, Elizabeth, Ind.) Sunday, Aug. 23, at 7 p.m. For tickets, visit www.horseshoehammond.com.

Interview by: Jerry Nunn

More on Donna Summer:

Summer talks about her own concert and more topics in the Windy City Times

Listen to the ShowBizQ podcast with Donna Summer hosted by Michael J. Roberts

Interviewed by Windy City Times