Hollywood, Fla. – After a sellout show at Hard Rock Live in May 2009,returns to South Florida for an encore at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Wednesday, August 18 at 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale Friday, May 7 at noon.
Singer/songwriter/pop culture icon Donna Summer rocketed to international superstardom in the mid-1970s when her groundbreaking merger of R&B, soul, pop, funk, rock, disco and avant-garde electronica catapulted underground dance music out of the clubs of Europe to the pinnacles of sales and radio charts around the world. Maintaining an unbroken string of hits throughout the '70s and '80s, most of which she wrote, Donna holds the record for most consecutive double albums to hit #1 on the Billboard charts (three) and first female to have four #1 singles in a 12- month period; three as a solo artist and one as a duo with .
In an exclusive interview, Summer talks about her family, travel, and what a typical day in her life looks like. Here it is in it's entirety:
Bill: You were recently inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall Of Fame during the Opening Night festivities. Describe the evening and what it means to you being a member of the Hall Of Fame.
Donna: Well... it's obviously an honor, without question. When they called me, I was dumbfounded. I guess they caught me off guard. When they asked me who I wanted to induct me, my first call was David Foster. He has been a big part of my musical career and he is a dear friend and we have known each other since the beginning of my career. They went after a couple of other people. The funny thing was that one of the people they went after was , who is also a friend. She intended to do it but then her mom got sick and she was unable to come, but David, at the last moment, was in New York and flew in and did this show for me. It was extremely exciting. The other big , exciting thing for me, almost equal to the award was being able to sing with Richard Carpenter. I mean, I am such a Carpenters fan and I think that a lot of people in America, whether they comp to it or not, are Carpenters fans because they grew up with them. I was just elated. It was really a beautiful evening. It will stay in my memory as sort of a high point. A couple of my kids were there, and one of my other daughters was home but she was unable to come. She is married with kids. They were more excited about me singing with Richard Carpenter than they were about me getting the award. In addition, I was able to sing the song "Nature Boy". It was a great moment for me to be able to do something different. Some of the audience was older, some of it was younger, it was a really mixed audience. Have you ever been in the Hollywood Bowl?
Bill: Yes, I have.
Donna: It just goes back, back, back, back and up, up, up, up. It is just such an unusual shape, the way that they designed it. It's like when you are singing out, you are always hitting people because there's people straight across from where you are at. It's such a magical place. It is very interesting.
Bill: Speaking about "Nature Boy", would you consider doing an album of standards?
Donna: I actually am, probably in September. I will begin work on a standards album. I will probably do an all-out dance album and a standards album. I'm gonna do both, and we will release them however were gonna release them. We are not sure which is going first.
Bill: Coming from sort of a Gospel background, what was your parents' reaction to songs such as "Bad Girls", "Hot Stuff", "and even more so, "Love To Love You Baby"?
Donna: They didn' know it was me. They heard "Love To Love You Baby" but they just didn't, you know, they heard the song, they just didn't know who it was. They were used to me belting. They really hadn't heard me sing that way, and the way that song was produced, I really kind of created the voice for that song. The song had been on the radio and people would call my mom and go, "You know... That's Donna's song, and she would say, "That's not my daughter, she doesn't sing like that". I called her one day from Europe and asked her if she heard my song, and she said, "What is it", and I told her it was that song and she said,"I have been telling everyone that is not your song". Anyway, it was pretty funny. She got used to the idea. I mean, they were liberal church people, they weren't uh... they knew I was young and that I was out of their control at some point and that whenever I made that step in that direction, they were like... OK, she's testing the waters so let her do what she's gotta do to where she's gotta get and uh... we'll pray for her.
Bill: Speaking of family, when it comes to touring, how do you cope with separation from your family and do you enjoy the travel that comes along with it?
Donna: I have been traveling for about, I would say, since my teens. I have been traveling around a lot since I was a kid. Travel is a pert of my DNA. I don't not like to travel and there are times that I like to travel more than others, but I do like seeing the world a lot. With my kids, when they were younger, we had a rule which was never more than two weeks at a time. There was one time, like every couple of years when I would put out an album where I had to be gone for three weeks to promote the album. That would only happen once. Other than that, I would not allow myself to not see them for more than two weeks. That would be the longest and we tried not to do that. Either we flew home or they came to us. It's a juggling act, without question, but if your kids know you love them and you are active in their lives, then you have to find ways to be there even when you re absent whether it's by phone or by tape. We used to make song tapes for our kids with all these stories on them at night before they went to bed, so they had a feeling that we were with them because they could hear our voices.
Bill: When you travel here in America, do you fly or do you travel in a tour bus?
Donna: I used to fly but I felt that it got really strenuous and now with the air travel situation as it is, i prefer to take the bus, personally. Me and my whole family... we love to be on the bus. As a matter of fact, I wanna take bus tours. I want to hire a bus drive and have him take me all over the country and take like a vacation where I just go wherever I want to go. Just do random trips on the bus. I like it that much.
Bill: My bags are already packed!
Donna: (laughing) OK, maybe I'll take you with me. You can narrate.
Bill: Of all the artist you have worked with over the years, which might be the most pleasant to work with?
Donna: Hmmm... I've got to scan my brain through all of these years. Well, you know, everybody's different. I mean, I love to work with Stevie. Stevie and I, in terms of being on stage, we've done some shows together. we have done private parties together. I just love playing with Stevie because he is very in the moment when he is playing he gets revved-up and he just starts playing his songs. once he starts, everyone in the room is just activated.
Bill: You are referring to Mr. , of course.
Donna: Yes. I mean, I love working with Barbara. I think it was a great learning curve. I love working with Liza (Minelli). Liza was very friendly, she was really sweet. We had a great, really intimate time. As crazy as we can get, it is nice to know that people can have that level of intimacy with other people. I am that kind of person. I am not very public in a lot of ways. I try to keep it that way. I do press when I have to do it, otherwise I stay out of the press if I can.
Bill: have you ever worked with Michael (Jackson) before?
Bill: What was that experience like?
Donna: He is such a professional. I had known Michael for many years. His family used to come and hang out backstage with me and go to my shows. Actually, , she was one of my dancers before she started singing. she, at the time, was going out with one of the brothers and they would all be there. They would all be there backstage in my suite and hanging out. It was just a party, but very warm and down to earth. Not like, Hey... were a bunch of celebrities and treat us special. No, not at all like that. Michael is probably one of the most sweet, humble people I have ever met in my life. Her was hyper-insecure about people and who they liked. Did they like Michael, or did they like Michael the entertainer. I think that there was a real balancing act for him. He knew the people that liked him for him.
Bill: When you are on tour, what is a typical day in the life of Donna Summer?
Donna: On a summer tour, if we sleep through on the bus, when we will usually get there either early in the morning into the hotel. go to sleep for a few hours. Get up, hang around for bout an hour getting my road feet. I will read the bible or do devotions and just pray for my kids and do whatever it is I do for myself personally and just get my brain ready to be focused on people and not on myself. Take a shower and get myself ready, and then I'll go down and do some press and anything of that nature that needs to get done. Then I go to my soundcheck or costume fitting or whatever happens that afternoon that is on my schedule. I'll also go on back and check everything because I am also the boss, and then I do my soundcheck for an hour, sometimes two hours. I usually make up songs with the band for about twenty five minutes every show, which I have taped my entire career. so you can just imagine how many songs I have written over the years. then we do some lighting checks. They run me through the backstage layout. I will walk the room, walk the stage. I talk to my band and find out what's going on with them, if they have any grievances or whatever and they go the eat dinner and I go to start getting ready. If I don't get a massage, I usually try to chill for about thirty, forty minutes to an hour and just be quiet. Everybody else is just relieved to get away from me. I don't like talking to people before getting made up about two to three hours before the show. Thats pretty much it. Then when it's time to get dressed, two people get you dressed. The last thing is that I put my clothes on. I go to the bathroom, put my clothes on. They give me a two minute. By the end of the two minute, I got to be fully dressed and perfumed and ready to hit the stage. At the two minute, we walk. We are at the side of the stage. We are waiting, and then I will usually go into my wardrobe and check myself, take a sip of water, Take a tote of oxygen, and then I get into my position.
Bill: Do you have a message you would like to deliver to your fans?
Donna: Things in life happen, like the thing that happened that you can't forsee, like what happened in the oil crisis and all that stuff. For people to keep faith, to have faith that things could be better and to not look at the negative and keep going down. Go get the secret and study it because what you project in your life is also what you see in your life and I think peoples lives could be a lot better if they could start projecting goodness and things that are great, as opposed to the negativity or being fearful. I would just like to say, have courage in this time. Some people are out of work and some people are going through challenges, that things will get better, that this day will pass and something good will happen.