Donna Summer could have taken the easy way out. She could have hopped on the nostalgia train and trotted out “Hot Stuff” to a backing tape at every high-priced disco revival night and sat home and counted all the cash.
Instead, Summer pushed to come up with something new for “Crayons” (Burgundy/Sony), expanding her musical boundaries far beyond disco and her worldview well past the dance floor. Calling from her Nashville home, Summer laughs because, yes, even now, the Queen of Disco still works hard for the money.
Q. Your new album is doing well and your single “Stamp Your Feet” has put you back on top of the dance charts. How do you feel about it?
A. I feel great about it. It’s been a long time coming. I had written tons and tons of songs ... but this last batch, I thought, was a really good batch, and I felt really happy that I was able to put them out. At first, my record company really did not want me to do that. I had to talk them into it. Well, I had to show them into it.
Q. What did they want you to do?
A. A standards album. (Singing) “Smile, though your heart is breaking.” That’s fine, but I just felt the world needs something new.
Q. What is it about dance music that makes you keep coming back to it?
A. I think dance music is happy music. It makes you euphoric. When I go to a dance floor, I want to hear something that will help me shake off every negative thing and all the work from the week before, and all I can think about is being free for a minute.
Q. But you also always manage to inject a deeper meaning into your songs.
A. In an album, you get a lot of subliminal messages that encourage people and make them feel, like “Yeah, I want to hear that again. It makes me feel better about myself.” I know so many times in my life I’ve found myself down for the count, but in something as simple as a song, I’ve found the courage to keep going.
// Notes from the Road
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