GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Donna Summer died May 17 following a battle with cancer. She was 63. Born LaDonna Andre Gaines in Boston, Summer was considered the Queen of Disco. Summer released her U.S. debut, 1975's Love To Love You Baby, which peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 and spawned a No. 2 Billboard Hot 100 hit with the title track. A Love Trilogy was released in 1976, followed by Four Seasons Of Love (1976), I Remember Yesterday (1977), and Once Upon A Time… (1977), all of which peaked in the Top 40. In 1978 Summer appeared in the disco-themed comedy film Thank God It's Friday. The film yielded the hit single "Last Dance," which earned Summer her first GRAMMY for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female. Bad Girls was released in 1979, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and earning Summer a GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year. The album produced two No. 1 hits, the title track and "Hot Stuff," the latter of which earned Summer a second GRAMMY for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female. Summer continued to release albums throughout the '80s and '90s, including the Top 10 hit She Works Hard For The Money in 1983. Summer's last GRAMMY came in 1997 for Best Dance Recording for "Carry On." Her final studio album was 2008's Crayons, which peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard 200.
(For a complete list of 53rd GRAMMY Awards nominees, click here.)
Current GRAMMY nominees Jeff Beck and LeAnn Rimes, and GRAMMY winners Seal and BeBe Winans are the latest performers announced for the 2011 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute to Barbra Streisand, to be held during GRAMMY Week on Feb. 11 in Los Angeles. They join previously announced performers Tony Bennett; singer/actress Kristin Chenoweth; GRAMMY-nominated "Glee" cast members Darren Criss, Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison; Herbie Hancock; Diana Krall; Barry Manilow; Donna Summer; Stevie Wonder; and singer Nikki Yanofsky. Streisand, an eight-time GRAMMY-winning artist and current nominee, will close the evening with her own special performance. Additional performers will be announced soon.
Proceeds from the annual Person of the Year tribute, now in its 21st year, provide essential support for MusiCares.
The event, a private charity fundraiser, is attended by industry VIPs and others who help support the work of The Recording Academy-affiliated MusiCares Foundation, which offers programs and services to members of the music community, including emergency financial assistance. The MusiCares MAP Fund provides access to addiction recovery treatment and sober living resources for members of the music community regardless of their financial circumstances, and MusiCares Safe Harbor Rooms offer a support network to those in recovery while they are participating in the production of televised music shows, such as the GRAMMY Awards, and other major music events.
The MusiCares Person of the Year tribute is one of the most prestigious events held during GRAMMY Week. The celebration culminates with the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Feb. 13 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The telecast will be broadcast live on the CBS Television Network at 8 p.m. ET/PT. For information on purchasing tables and tickets to the event, please contact Dana Tomarken at 310.392.3777.
Past MusiCares Person of the Year honorees include Tony Bennett, Bono, Natalie Cole, Phil Collins, David Crosby, Neil Diamond, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, Don Henley, Billy Joel, Elton John, Quincy Jones, Luciano Pavarotti, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Simon, Sting, James Taylor, Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder, and Neil Young.
There have arguably been more songs recorded about summer than any other season. Maybe it's because we all get just a little bit pagan in the summer, celebrating the sun like it may never rise again. Maybe it's because, for fans and music makers alike, summer was responsibility-free in our youth, or as Alice Cooper sang, "No more pencils/No more books/No more teachers' dirty looks." Or maybe the word summer is easier to rhyme than winter. (We're only coming up with "splinter." For summer there's "bummer" and … well, never mind that point.)
Let's face it — summer's just the feel-good time of year, and music is part of what makes us feel good. So, to help you feel good for summer, here's our summer GRAMMY playlist.
"Dirt Road Anthem" (iTunes>)
Jason Aldean, Best Country Solo Performance nominee, 2011
Unfortunately, summer isn't all fun and games. Those feeling melancholy can find solace in Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem." All Aldean needs for a good time is to load up the old truck for a drive down his favorite dusty road, and some cold ones to reflect on better days. The song topped Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart last July.
"Warm Breeze" (iTunes>)
Count Basie, Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Big Band, 1982
Basie, who would die just two years after this GRAMMY win, turns in a balmy performance of this tune, which was written and arranged by longtime collaborator Sammy Nestico. The rolling horns come in like waves on the beach.
"California Girls" (iTunes>)
The Beach Boys, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, 2010
The official band of summer (in our marketing-crazed times, there'd be a sponsorship deal in a title like that), the Beach Boys celebrate the golden West Coast girls of summer. Sort of the innocent opposite of Don Henley's "The Boys Of Summer" (see further below).
"Keep On The Sunny Side" (iTunes>)
The Carter Family, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, 2006
The Carter Family may have invented country music as we know it today, but rather than the achy breaky songs country would become famous for, this tune was all about hope, even if times were cloudy and stormy. It's a summer song of a different era, but no less joyous than a Beach Boys song about cars and girls.
"Summertime Blues" (iTunes>)
Eddie Cochran, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, 1999
Of course, when you're a teen and out of school for summer, the world is supposed to be your proverbial oyster … unless you need to fish for them. What's got '50s rocker Cochran blue? Working all summer just to try to earn a dollar. Summer isn't always all sun and fun, but don't tell the Beach Boys.
"Theme From A Summer Place" (iTunes>)
Percy Faith And His Orchestra, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, 2000
One of the all-time great pop instrumentals, this tune takes a cool dip in an ocean of emotion-drenched strings, and rightly so. The film from which it's taken is a tale of young love and parental hypocrisy set on a summer vacation in Maine. Says Sandra Dee when Troy Donahue asks if she's afraid of him: "Yes. That and some other new feelings that I can't explain." Ah, young summer love.
"The Girl From Ipanema" (iTunes>)
Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto, Record Of The Year, 1964
Perhaps the quintessential summer song, this tune brought the soft waves of Rio and the lilting rhythms of the summery samba to a worldwide audience. Each time we hear this song, we just go "aaaah." The song was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2000.
"The Boys Of Summer" (iTunes>)
Don Henley, Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male, 1985
OK, sometimes summer's a bummer, or at least a metaphor for a bummer. Leave it to Henley, who with the Eagles turned the sun-drenched California sound into a dark, cautionary warning bell, to supply our list with the least upbeat summer song. Here, summer is a metaphor for all those moments in life we can't recapture. In the words of Henley: "Nobody on the road/Nobody on the beach/I feel it in the air/The summer's out of reach." We hope your summer isn't out of reach.
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group, 1991
Before he got jiggy wit it, Will Smith (then known as the Fresh Prince) and his cohort hit No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Summertime" in 1991. The Fresh Prince's definition of summer madness covered all the requisite summer themes and then some — cruisin', grillin', kissin', maxin', relaxin', and waxin'.
"Summer In The City" (iTunes>)
The Lovin' Spoonful, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, 1999
While many summer songs celebrate sand and surf, the John Sebastian-led the Lovin' Spoonful, hailing as they did from New York, sing an ode to the hot urban night scene. During the day, the stifling weather may get the group dirty and gritty, but "at night it's a different world/Go out and find a girl/Come on, come on and dance all night/Despite the heat, it'll be alright."
"Hot In Herre" (iTunes>)
Nelly, Best Male Rap Solo Performance, 2002
It's summer, and it's "Hot In Herre," (or in here, in hear, or maybe even in herr …). Whichever spelling or pronunciation you prefer, this celebration of fame and its perks finds Nelly so hot he wants to take his clothes off. We're sure he has swim trunks under there.
"California Gurls" (iTunes>)
Katy Perry Featuring Snoop Dogg, Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals nominee, 2010
California native Perry, with the help of fellow SoCal star Snoop Dogg, gives her side of the story in "California Gurls," and tells you what they're all about — "Daisy dukes, bikinis on top/Sun-kissed skin, so hot." That sounds like a recipe for a beachy Southern California summer day. The song was hot enough to top the Billboard Hot 100 in summer 2010.
"Watermelon Man" (iTunes>)
Mongo Santamaria, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, 1998
Hey, who doesn't like watermelon in the summer? And there's more than one reason to hail Santamaria for this track — he took it to No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963.
"Summer Song" (iTunes>)
Joe Satriani, Best Rock Instrumental Performance nominee, 1997
You can almost feel the heat blast off the sidewalk pavement in this up-tempo ode to summer. A veritable carnival for guitar lovers, Satriani employs plenty of hot six-string pyrotechnics in "Summer Song"— harmonics, wah-wah-drenched pentatonic phrases, whammy bar dives, liquid legato runs, and hammer-ons and pull-offs. (Playlist addicts wanting a different seasonal side of Satch can check out "Tears In The Rain.")
"'Til Summer Comes Around" (iTunes>)
Keith Urban, Best Male Country Vocal Performance, 2010
Possibly one of summer's biggest fans, Urban reminisces on a long-lost summer love on this track, proclaiming that he's "so frozen in this town/'Til summer comes around."
"You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" (iTunes>)
Stevie Wonder, Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, 1973
Nothing says "I love you" better than telling someone you're the sun they revolve around. (Well, except "I love you," but that's way too obvious and a lot less melodic than this classic.) Wonder also wrote the inverse to this song with the melancholy "I Never Dreamed You'd Leave In Summer," so, to paraphrase Joni Mitchell, he's seen summer from both sides now. The song was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2002.
What song will you feel the heat with this summer? Drop us a comment and let us know.
On July 2 the GRAMMY Museum will unveil its latest temporary exhibit, Donna Summer: Four Seasons Of Love. Located on the Museum's fourth floor, this unique exhibit will offer visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the iconic career of the late five-time GRAMMY winner. This will mark the first exhibit highlighting the career of the legendary Queen of Disco.
"Donna Summer galvanized a diverse group of music fans and she was able to give credibility to a genre of music that had many skeptics," said GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli. "We are honored to tell her story and help demonstrate why Donna Summer is not only the undisputed Queen of Disco, but also one of the most successful female artists of all time."
On display through spring 2015, the exhibit will feature gowns and costumes designed by Summer; handwritten lyrics and notes; never-before-seen photographs spanning Summer's entire career; several hand-painted pieces from the singer's critically acclaimed Summer Fine Arts Collection; and set design sketches created by Summer, among other items.
"In 1978, Donna received the GRAMMY Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, her first major industry award," said her husband Bruce Sudano. "Donna's relationship with The Recording Academy was very special to her. On behalf of our daughters Mimi, Brooklyn and Amanda, and the extended family, we are truly honored to have the GRAMMY Museum host this amazing tribute to Donna's legacy."
(The GRAMMY Insider keeps you up to date about news on your favorite GRAMMY winners, including new album releases, tour updates, notable media appearances, interviews, and more.)
Even though summer is winding down, fall is gearing up to be a hot season for new music. Billboard has offered their Fall Album Preview 2013, a collection of 52 new releases to look out for. Among them are upcoming albums from GRAMMY winners Arcade Fire, Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown, Cher, Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion, Drake, Eminem, Enrique Iglesias, Kings Of Leon, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Pearl Jam, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, TLC, Donna Summer, and Keith Urban. … At 82, GRAMMY-nominated "Star Trek" star William Shatner is still beaming with ideas. His latest endeavor? Ponder The Mystery, a progressive rock album set for release on Oct. 8 featuring guest appearances from GRAMMY winners Steve Vai and Vince Gill and Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Robby Krieger of the Doors, among others.
Production for season 13 of "American Idol" kicked off Sept. 3 in Boston and the reality singing competition series welcomed a new face to the judges' chair: Harry Connick Jr. "I have always been a huge fan of 'American Idol' and really enjoyed my time as a mentor on the show," said Connick. The pop crooner joins currently standing judges Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban.
A somewhat gloomy poll conducted by Vanity Fair and "60 Minutes" has revealed the top celebrities Americans would like to bring back from the dead. While the late Princess Diana reigned supreme, also making the list were Apple co-founder and Recording Academy Trustees Award recipient Steve Jobs, and GRAMMY winners Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.
There's been one glaring omission from Fleetwood Mac's current international tour: keyboardist Christine McVie. Though McVie went her own way from the band in 1998, a recent report has hinted at a possible reunion. According to BBC Radio 2 host Johnnie Walker, McVie revealed in an interview, "If they ask me, I'd play." Somewhere Fleetwood Mac fans are singing "Say You Will."
Elton John was feeling the love on Sept. 2 as he received the first-ever Brits Icon Award, an honor bestowed by British music industry trade organization BPI to dedicated artists who have made a "lasting impact" on UK culture. Presenting the trophy to the five-time GRAMMY winner was Rod Stewart, who joked that John was the "second-best rock singer ever."
Neil Young had to recently ask himself, "Who's gonna drive you home tonight?" According to a report, South Lake Tahoe Police Watch discovered Young stranded on Interstate 80 with his broken-down 1959 Lincoln Continental convertible. The vehicle features a hybrid engine that runs on electricity and biomass fuel and has been a showpiece of an ongoing nationwide tour to promote clean and sustainable energy. Patrol officers were able to help Young off the road, where he then posed for photos, signed autographs and had the car repaired.