5 Questions with Donna Summer

Photo by Mark Lidell
When did you realize you had a voice from God?

I think I write about that in my [2003] book,

Ordinary Girl.

I heard God speak to me when I was 8. It happened while I was singing — I heard this voice say, “You’re going to be famous, this is power, and you’re never to misuse it.” And I’m like, whoa — what was that? Instantly tears just started coming out of my eyes, almost uncontrollably crying.

I heard John Lennon flipped for your work with Giorgio Moroder — what’s the story?
When he got the single of [1977’s] “I Feel Love,” he went back home and listened to it over and over again, and he said to someone who knew him very well, “Listen to this, you’ve got to listen to this song — this is the future. ”

You’ve been out of the spotlight a long time — is this a comeback?
When [my youngest child] Amanda graduated from college two and a half years ago, I was sort of set free to go be myself again. I thought, what am I doing with the rest of my life here? My husband always laughs at me: “You go from housewife/mom to, like, Donna Summer!”It’s kind of a bizarre feeling sometimes for me too.

Is it like riding a bike?
Yeah, it is. I’ve put on a few pounds and for a long time I was really afraid to go out. I thought, I’ve got to be perfect all the time. [But] you’re gonna get older and things are gonna change. It took me a minute to just figure out, okay, this is who I am now — like it or lump it!

And little human things play such a big part in your perception of what you can accomplish — now, performing in 5-inch spike heels kills my feet! One day I thought, well, let me wear flats onstage — and no one noticed the shoes. They just noticed I could dance more.

Who’s your performing role model?
Judy Garland. When she was onstage, I couldn’t see the orchestra. All I could see was her — every motion and eye flutter. That’s my goal. Not to be where Beyoncé is now — where it’s about the clothes and the girl and blah blah. I want it to be about me and my music.

Donna Summer performs Friday, August 26, at the Gibson Amphitheater at Universal CityWalk and Thursday, September 1, at the Grove of Anaheim.

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