Boston City Councillor Charles C. Yancey today reminisced growing up with singer, actress, and five-time Grammy Award winner, Donna Summer, who succumbed to cancer today in Florida at the age of 63.
Summer, whose older sister married one of Councillor Yancey’s brothers in the 1960s, was a close friend of the Yancey family.
Summer, who was born as LaDonna Adrian Gaines to Andrew and Mary Gaines on December 31, 1948 in Boston, graduated from the Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester. She perfected her vocal talent by singing gospel music at the Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston.
Summer relocated to Europe in 1968 and took part in the German productions of several musicals, including Haare, Porgy and Bess, and Godspell. Summer, in 1975, recorded "Love To Love You Baby", which transformed her into an international star and earned her the titleQueen of Disco. She went on to score four number one singles, fourteen top ten hits, three platinum albums, five Grammy awards, and twelve other Grammy nominations.
Summer won Best R&B Vocal Performance Female for Last Dance in 1978, Best Rock Vocal Performance Female for Hot Stuffin 1979, Best Inspirational Performance for He's A Rebel in 1983, Best Inspirational Performance for Forgive Me in 1984 and Best Dance Recording for Carry On in 1997. She also picked up 3 American Music Awards in 1979, the NAACP Image Award in 1980, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1992.
Councillor Yancey, on July 12, 2008, presented Summer with a City Council resolution commending her successful career and her generosity to humanitarian needs. Summer contributed much of her time and money to such organizations as UNICEF, Music Cares, The Gay Men's Health Crisis, Race to Erase MS, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance.
“We’re very proud of her international presence and her philanthropy. She was down to earth in spite of her fame and wealth,” Yancey said.
Summer, who has appeared in eight movies, was the first female artist to have three number one solo singles in one year, the first female artist to use synthesizers, and the first artist to create an extended play song for use in dance clubs.
“Donna Summer will be solely missed by my family and the entire City of Boston. We are proud of the fact that she was a daughter of Boston,” Yancey said.
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