Q&A with dance-music icon Donna Summer

Glenn Gamboa
Newsday (MCT)

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.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.