Donna Summer died today at the age of 63 after a a lifetime of trials, tribulations and working hard for her money.
Summer gave birth to 3 daughters: Mimi Summer-Dohler (b. 1973) Brooklyn Sudano (b. 1981) Amanda Sudano (b. 1982)
Donna Summer was born December 31, 1948 in Boston, MA.
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Summer endured a string of bereavements that almost defies belief: two of her sisters’ husbands died in car crashes, an uncle was killed in a hit and run, another sister lost a baby to cot death, a nephew accidentally shot himself, a cousin was shot by the police. All this on the back of further physical trials Summer had weathered in the 1970s: as her sudden, disco-era fame knocked her sideways Summer, who had already been suffering from headaches, insomnia and ulcers, was prescribed antidepressants, and developed what she described in a 1981 interview as ‘a very heavy’ dependence. In her 2003 autobiography, The Journey, she describes how she almost committed suicide by jumping out of a hotel window.
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“I know, ‘Sometimes I wish I hadn’t. But I think other people need to know what really goes on. And I got through it – that’s the healing part of it all. But it was very difficult, ’79 was a rough year. I had Mimi to think about and I just had to step up and be a mom.” Donna Summer 1983
That year, after joining a prayer group, Summer was born again. How did that happen? Summer has said , “Well, I was Christian my whole life, but I didn’t really execute it – I didn’t live it. And I came back to realizing that without it I couldn’t get through this stuff I had to go through. I needed something that grounded me and it had to be really strong.”
Reborn and refocused, Summer kept the hits coming. In 1980 she was one of the first three signings to Geffen, the new label being launched by the industry legend David Geffen. Her label mates were Elton John and John Lennon. She branched out, too. She talked of writing a musical based on her life. It never came to pass, but the autobiography did.
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In 1989 she and her husband, Bruce Sudano, had an idea for a new kind of television show, a reality-based sitcom inspired by their ‘crazy household’ – an Italian-American/Afro-American couple sharing their home with three children (their two daughters, Amanda and Brooklyn, and Mimi, Summer’s daughter by Helmut Sommer), a ‘kooky and funny’ Spanish maid and two sets of in-laws. It was, in effect, The Osbournes, 13 years ahead of the curve. But Sudano says the television network started ‘watering down’ the premise, making it less funny. ‘And because we were an inter-racial couple they didn’t want us to be married any more.’ Incredibly, in 1989 this was ‘an issue. So with that mentality we just backed out of it.” In the early 1990s the family lived in Connecticut, then in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a good place to raise her girls, away from the big cities and the hubbub of the entertainment world.
She took great pride in being a mother, wife and recovered addict. All those things made her the Donna Summer we came to know and love. Today she lost her battle with cancer, but lives on as a woman who was a symbol of strength, prayer and motherhood.
Take a look at the Soulful, thoughtful Donna in the videos below where she candidly tells her story.
Make sure that you listen to the below playlist of some of Donna Summer Greatest Songs!
Here is a gallery that celebrates her life and talent. What is your favorite. Share with us on Facebook.