Disco diva Donna Summer has died of cancer at age 63. She provided the voice, with Giorgio Moroder producing, for this landmark song:
From the New York Times, posted May 17:
Her combination of a church-rooted voice and up-to-the-minute dance beats was a template for 1970s disco, and, with her producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, she pioneered electronic dance music with the synthesizer pulse of “I Feel Love” in 1977, a sound that pervades 21st-century pop. Her own recordings have been sampled by, among others, Beyoncé, the Pet Shop Boys, Justice and Nas.
Note this about an earlier hit, Love to Love You Baby:
Her work as a backup singer brought her to the attention of Mr. Moroder and Mr. Bellotte. Her 1974 debut album with them, “Lady of the Night,” was released only in Europe. But with “Love to Love You Baby” in 1975, Ms. Summer became a sensation. She said she recorded that song’s breathy, moaning vocals lying on her back on the studio floor with the lights out, thinking about how Marilyn Monroe might coo its words.
The American label Casablanca signed her after hearing the song in its initial European version, titled “Love to Love You,” and asked her to extend it for disco play. The resulting 17-minute single contains more than 20 simulated orgasms and became an international hit, reaching No. 2 on the American pop chart. Ms. Summer quickly released two more albums, “A Love Trilogy” and “Four Seasons of Love,” a concept album tracing a romance over the course of a year.
But she was increasingly uncomfortable being promoted as a sex goddess. “I’m not just sex, sex, sex,” she told Ebony magazine in 1977. “I would never want to be a one-dimensional person like that.”
Sadly, she became depressed and attempted suicide in late 1976. Fortunately, she wasn’t successful.
“I Remember Yesterday,” one of two albums Ms. Summer released in 1977, revolved around the concept of mixing disco with the sounds of previous decades. But it was a song representing the future, “I Feel Love,” that would make the most impact. Its all-electronic arrangement was a startling new sound for a pop song, and its contrast of human voice versus synthetic backdrop would echo through countless club hits in its wake.
Obviously for me, it registered as a song. It stood out at the time, and stands among the best of that era. Its influence has stretched into the present day.
“This music will always be with us,” Ms. Summer told The New York Times in 2003. “I mean, whether they call it disco music or hip-hop or bebop or flip-flop, whatever they’re going to call it, I think music to dance to will always be with us.”