By Maurice Edwards
Remembering “The First Lady of Love”
As an young kid in 1978, I was no different from any dreamer wishing to one day become a celebrated performer.
So what I hope to do with this post is to try and show how significant Donna Summer experience was to me and future performers.
Let’s start from the beginning
The year was 1975 and I riding in the backseat of the family Ford Pinto when out of the blue I hear this moaning over an infectious bass-line coming through the radio. I don’t remember much except that I was deeply moved and wanted more.
That song turned out to be “Love To Love You Baby”.
Funny side note: When I first heard Love To Love you Baby I didn’t know the artist name, so when the song used to come on the radio I would also go” Mama ooh please turn up the radio it the “Nasty Lady”. I still chuckle when I think about that.
My Grandpa and Drag Queens
In 1976 my grandfather lived in San Francisco and he used to babysit my sister and I when we finished school. Well it was at grandpa’s apartment that I as introduced to Donna Summer’s “Spring Affair” and Drag Queens. I know you ask probably wondering what does Drag Queens have to do with this? Anyone who has lived in San Francisco knows that living quarter can be pretty close to each other. Well my grandpa’s kitchen window was paralleled to his neighbors who happen to be drag queens and remembering him constantly playing Donna Summer over and over.
Side Note: At this point in my life I have not become an active consumer of records. I do not own any Donna Summer records yet or know what she looks like. It’s true
Puberty and MacArthur Park
1978 was a pivotal year for me, I was about to graduate to junior high school, start puberty and I began to buy records. The very first record I purchased was the 12′ of “MacArthur Park”. I still get shivers when I think about the production of that song. It was my first real lesson of how to make records outside the popular soul sound of the time. I was completed enthralled by all the production stitch work, the musical charts for the brass and strings, and most of all Donna’s vocal performance.
Donna at this time was one of the biggest stars in the industry and I finally got the opportunity to put a face to the voice. I know it sounds crazy but it took three years before I saw Donna Summer perform on television. Pre-1978 Donna I believe was shown on television after 9pm, which was my bedtime in those days.
Favorite Line From MacArthur Park “I will have the things that I desire as my passions flow like rivers from the sky. After all the love in my life you will be the one”.
Side Note: I have met a lot of young people who calls MacArthur Park “The Cake In The Rain Song”.
I Understand The Art of Live Performance
Donna Summer Live & More
At this stage of my young life I’m beginning to take being a performer more seriously now and after purchasing Live & More I realized the lessons were about to begin. With Live & More I studied the importance of grabbing an audiences attention instantly and embedding them into the production. I studied the flow and energy levels of live performances and most importantly the discipline that is required to pull off a great show nightly. I believe this is one of the main reasons I have a lot of respect for artist that are known for being great performers.
Looking Back On Some “Hot Stuff “
As I matured musically and begin to having a growing interest in studio production I begin to study the older Donna Summer catalog I was to young to appreciate or buy. On a production level I was definitely influenced by Love To Love You Baby and Four Seasons Of Love albums. Bad Girls is the masterpiece from a marketing and production standpoint. Bad Girls was record for everyone.
Hot Stuff with it’s rock guitar appeal to the pop fans
Bad Girls was definitely R&B
Sunset People was for the club kids
I still look to the Bad Girls album as the template of brilliant music marketing.
Before There Was Madonna, Beyonce And The Rest.
The music business has been through a lot of personal and professional changes and what’s really humorous is that when I want to recenter my creative energy I listen to Donna Summer’s Live & More, it takes me to that place of being an eager 10 year dreaming of being in the business.
Side Note: Please excuse the grammer! I didn’t edit.