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Donna Summer was born on this date in 1948. She was a Black singer, songwriter, and artist.
Born in the Dorchester community of Boston, she was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines, one of seven children raised by devout Christian parents. She sang in church and, as a teenager, joined a rock group called The Crow. At 18, she left home and school to take up a supporting role in the Broadway musical "Hair." The show moved to Germany shortly afterward, and she eventually became a German resident.
She settled in Munich, performed in German versions of several musicals, including "Godspell" and "Show Boat," and performed with the Viennese Folk Opera. In 1971, she released her first solo recording in Europe titled "Sally Go 'Round The Roses."
She married Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer ("Summer" is an Anglicization of his last name) in 1972 and gave birth to daughter Mimi the following year. She performed in various musicals and worked in studios and theaters for several years, including with the pop group Family Tree from 1974-75.
While singing back-up for Three Dog Night, she met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, signed a contract, and issued her first album, "Lady of the Night," which included the European hit, "The Hostage." The couple divorced in 1976.
In 1978, she collaborated with the R&B Pop group the Brooklyn Dreams for the song "Heaven Knows." While at the session recording the single, she met Bruce Sudano. The duo began a romance that culminated in their July 16, 1980, marriage and later the birth of daughters Brooklyn and Amanda. Mimi and Amanda sang alongside their mother, and Brooklyn did some acting. Summer became a grandmother of three.
Summer dealt with controversy both professionally and personally in her career. In the early 1980s, she reportedly suggested that HIV/AIDS was a divine punishment from God. Her songs were banned for a number of years in some gay establishments. Summer had long denied such allegations and finally took legal action against a newspaper that printed the rumors during a review of a concert. In 1991, during the height of the Gulf War, Summer's song "State Of Independence" was banned from US radio play.
Her talent and musicianship (aided by Giorgio Moroder) were embraced as the epitome of the disco era. On September 27, 2007, Summer was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Donna Summer died of cancer on May 17, 2012.