Donna Summer (born LaDonna Adrian Gaines December 31, 1948) is an American singer and songwriter who gained prominence during the disco era of music. Summer was trained as a gospel singer prior to her introduction to the music industry and has always been known for her “Powerhouse” Vocal delivery. Though she is most notable for her disco hits, Summer’s repertoire has expanded to include contemporary R&B, Rock, Mainstream pop, and Gospel. Summer is one of the most successful recording artists of the 1970s and 1980s and was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums hit #1 on the Billboard charts. She also became the first female artist to have four number-one singles in a thirteen-month period. Billboard magazine has noted that Summer’s extensive career has landed her as the “Eighth” most succesful career by a female. Summer’s website reports an estimate that she has sold more than 130 million records worldwide.
Born in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, she was one of seven children raised by devout Christian parents. She sang in church, and in her teens joined a funk group called The Crow, so named because Donna was the only black member of the group. At eighteen, Gaines left home and school to audition for a role in the cast of the Broadway musical, Hair. Unsuccessful in getting the part in the Broadway show (Melba Moore got the role), she was offered the European Tour when the show moved to Germany, where Summer also performed in the German versions of several musicals including Godspell and Show Boat. She settled in Munich and also performed with the Viennese Folk Opera and the pop band Munich Machine.
In 1971, Gaines released a single in Europe entitled “Sally Go ‘Round The Roses”, her first solo recording. The single was unsuccessful, however, and she had to wait until 1974 to launch a solo career. Gaines married Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer (“Summer” is an Anglicization of his last name) in 1972 and gave birth to daughter Mimi the following year. Summer did various musical jobs in studios and theaters for several years, including the pop group FamilyTree from 1974-75.
After her divorce from Sommer, she married her second husband, American musician Bruce Sudano, in 1980. They have two daughters named Brooklyn and Amanda. Sudano was a member of the ’70s groups Alive N Kickin’ and The Brooklyn Dreams. You can read the rest on Wikipedia. Click Download to listen to short podcast.