Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco, died at the weekend.

What happy memories I have of dancing to her singles during my stay in France. Her producer at the time, Giorgio Moroder, was the King of Eurodisco, which transformed dancefloors across the Continent in the mid-1970s.

It’s hard to believe that Moroder, now living in Los Angeles, is 72 and that Summer was 63. How time flies.

Words cannot express how much I loved Summer’s and Moroder’s collaborative efforts. They brightened my world for a few years.

Anyway, a few words about this lady — born and raised in Dorchester (Boston, Massachusetts) — and a frequent churchgoer who eventually found her way back to God after a decade of musicals, recording studios and concerts. Although she never lost her faith, at one point — as she told Pat Robertson in 1983 (see video at the end of the article) — she wondered if God would forgive her sins of the late 1960s and 1970s.

Around 1979 or 1980, she was on anti-depressants, which she discusses in the video. She explained that whilst they deadened the depression, they awakened other parts of her mind. For instance, she would stay awake for days at a time. She also felt severe pangs of conscience. She dreamt of herself as being three different people. So disturbed by what was happening, thanks to a friend, she was able to meet with a pastor who laid hands on her. She never looked back.

Although she never gave up recording and concerts, she and her music moved away from the sensuality of the Eurodisco era. In the mid-1980s, homosexual groups criticised her stance on AIDS, which she said was a punishment from God. She later apologised for any pain she caused AIDS sufferers and added that some of the men she worked with were also gay.  As anyone who was sentient at the time knows, disco had a huge gay following in the 70s, particularly in New York (e.g. Studio 54).

Summer, whose maiden name was Gaines, took the surname of her first husband, the Austrian Helmuth Sommer, and anglicised it. She and Sommer had a daughter together — Mimi — who has since had children of her own, adding to Summer and second husband Bruce Sudano‘s familial joy.  The Sudanos had two daughters, Brooklyn and Amanda Grace. Sudano also works in the music business as a singer, songwriter and producer and used to accompany his wife on tours as a musician and singer.

Although she did not smoke, Donna Summer died of lung cancer, said to be unrelated to secondhand smoke. I wanted to highlight that so that people do not start using her in their leftist and secular pietist anti-tobacco campaigns.

Although no prescription drug name was mentioned in the video, I should like to add that Miss Summer’s experience with anti-depressants ties in with those of two people I knew. In the late 1980s, one of my colleagues in the US — a bright, happy, efficient worker — became depressed; it seems her (very) long-term boyfriend had not yet asked for her hand in marriage. (They have since married.) At the time, her doctor prescribed Xanax, which made her tired, weepy and withdrawn, at least temporarily.  In the second case, in the mid-1990s, I worked with a woman in the UK whose boyfriend was prescribed Xanax. They had been having problems before, but the drug made his behaviour violent and erratic. She was very grateful they were not living together because she feared the worst. They broke up several weeks after he started taking the tablets. ‘I’M PERFECTLY FINE — YOU’RE THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM’, he would yell at her over the phone, generally first thing in the morning.  Oh, my.

Donna Summer told Pat Robertson that she took prescription drugs to deaden her conscience. She explained to him that she was trying to run from coming clean with God. The pills only made things worse, although she added that God works everything to His plan. She wasn’t sure if He would forgive her — saying that Satan was starting to get a grip on her to go further down the road to perdition.  After her healing and return to faithfulness, she said that she had assurance, although she still hadn’t completely forgiven herself for several years spent in a ‘kind of darkness’.  Former journalist, now screenwriter, Joe Eszterhas also spoke of coming out of ‘darkness’ when he returned to faith.

Please, if you are in this type of situation, do take a quarter of an hour to watch Summer’s 1983 video. She spoke for many people and, despite all we read and hear about drug use (recreational or prescription), we get very little about its deadening of the conscience of the sinner. Donna Summer would no doubt encourage everyone who feels now as she did then to ask for the Lord’s forgiveness today.  She was broken. Joe Eszterhas — who lived on the wild side — was also broken. They knew the world and sin only too well. Take time to read and hear what they had to say — then give it careful consideration.  May God bless you in your reconciliation with Him, your Heavenly Father who embraces all His prodigal sons and daughters.

Finally, my deepest sympathies to Bruce Sudano and to Donna Summer’s daughters along with prayers for strength and resilience in the days and months ahead.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us Donna Summer and her unforgettable voice.  She made many of us who came of age in the 1970s happy people with fond memories of her music.

Further reading:

Donna Summer – Telegraph

Donna Summer Called Her Singing ‘Power’ from God – CBN News