Classic Soul Music

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


For those who may be intrigued, yes, DONNA SUMMER is my hero! No fan worship here, no ass-kissing, it's plain and simple: the woman delivered at the show I attended last Friday in Anaheim. Like Anita Baker and Gladys Knight, Donna understands that giving the people what they want is the first priority for any entertainer. Folks pay hard-earned money to go to see a show and tickets ain't cheap - and nor is gas money! Thanks to my friend Nick, I got a chance to see Donna in concert, something I hadn't done in several years. Everything, yes, everything the packed audience wanted to hear they got - "MacArthur Park" (always hated the song but loved her version but still don't understand why anyone would leave a cake out in the rain!), "She Works Hard For The Money" (and she does), "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls" and even "Love To Love You Baby" plus "Enough Is Enough" (during which she even threw in a little of Barbra Streisand's part) and a moving version of the old standard "Smile."

After emerging from the top of the piano (!), Donna proceeded to engage the audience with some self-deprecating humor ("I almost became a 'desperate housewife,' eating potato chips!"), a funny story about how Aretha Franklin's voice was the inspiration for her to want to sing for a living and a genuine expression of love for her husband (and pianist) Bruce Sudano, who sang a song from his own solo album that is clearly worth checking out.

Honestly, thinking back to those heady days of disco and even recalling the very first time I heard "Love To Love You Baby" with its orgasmic moans, I don't know that I would have expected some three decades later to be witnessing Donna Summer in full bloom. Look, back then, most artists were lucky to have more than one dance hit. As it is, Donna has not only survived through three decades but sounds better than ever, her voice stronger, and her performance a real joy to behold. She sang a snippet of a brand new song, "I Got Your Love" which is currently available at i-Tunes and it sounds great! Apparently, there are going to be some club remixes and I wouldn't be surprised if Donna ends up with a No. 1 dance music hit just like Jody Watley is enjoying now with her remixed "Looking For A New Love."

I've had the opportunity to interview Donna a few times over the years and most recently, got a great quote from her for the upcoming Luther Vandross tribute album (she does an amazing job on "Power Of Love," another candidate for dance floor success and along with Usher's spectacular version of "Superstar," one of the most impressive tracks on the CD due out later this month). We don't 'know' each other in the same way I know some of the other female entertainers (notice I did NOT say 'divas' a word I am cutting from my vocabulary!) I've worked with over the years - and no question, when I did get back after the show to speak with her, she was gracious, funny and real - with everyone backstage (much like Anita B. and Gladys K. always are whenever I've witnessed them after a show) . No attitude, just gratitude. I applaud and appreciate Donna for the true professionalism and work ethic she brings to her shows: she looks good, she sounds good, she has excellent musicians (including a wonderful string section that brings those Summer classics to life) and she knows the power of giving the people what they want...

And for those of you who love your female entertainers, look out for a PATTI LABELLE Q&A which I'm posting to the website - (Wednesday) early in the am. You see, in spite of what the 'haters' may say or think of me, I'm committed to giving folks who appreciate soul music and its purveyors what they want. Sweet dreams.


At 7:22 AM, Blogger Christian John Wikane said...

Dear David,

Donna certainly has delivered on this tour! It's truly evident that she's having a good time and it's a thrill to hear songs that haven't made the set list in years (e.g. "I Love You," "Once Upon a TIme"). I'm so glad that you had an opportunity to attend one of her shows this time around and that you had a nice chat with the lady herself. I'll never forget the night I saw her at Jones Beach a couple months back, with the ocean breeze blowing through her hair as she tilted her head back, closed her eyes, and effortlessly held a note during "Could it Be Magic." Truly an iconic moment. If there ever was a time to see Donna Summer, now is it - she just gets better and better! (And yes, the "cake" in "MacArthur Park" has mystified many a listener so Donna explained the..."poetry" behind Jimmy Webb's lyrics in her NY show!)

At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much agree with your review of Donna's show. I can't wait to see her back in the limelight where she is deserving. I can' think of any other artist with more integrity and talent than Donna Summer. I love her and wish her the best. I Got Your Love is a great song and am eagerly awaiting Power of Love.

At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Usher's spectacular version" ???
Thats ridiculous, its not even a version its just singing note for note ... no artistic approach at all.
Usher is about showing off his abs but not his art.
Music for teenagers, no substance here really.

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