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Baltimore Pays Tribute To Disco Queen Donna Summer

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — We say goodbye to music royalty. Donna Summer is dead at age 63. The chart-topping artist has been called “The Face of Disco.”

Kai Jackson looks at her legacy in Baltimore and across the country.

Donna Summer’s music touched generations of fans around the world. Now, they and the world of music are remembering her.

Summer was an icon in the world of music, a superstar whose big voice and mega hits defined the era known as disco.

She died Thursday morning at the age of 63– reportedly from lung cancer– at her Naples, Fla. home.

Her family released a statement saying that they are “at peace celebrating her extraordinary life, and her continued legacy.”

“I began to tell everybody, ‘God said I’m going to be famous,'” Summer once said.

She was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines in Boston in 1948. She sang in the church choir and formed several musical groups. Her breakout hit came in 1975 when the song “Love to Love You, Baby” became a disco anthem.

Legendary Baltimore DJ Randy Dennis remembers meeting Summer when he was a DJ in Boston.

“Very nice, very humble. That’s what struck me about her, you know. She seemed very grateful for all the success she was starting to achieve,” Dennis said.

Summer won five Grammys for her iconic hits including “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls.” Her songs like “She Works Hard for the Money” defined the dance music era of the 70s influencing acts like Duran Duran and Madonna.

“Her songs were well-crafted pop songs and they have staying power to this day,” Fran Lane, a radio host at 101.9 Lite FM, said.

At WJZ‘s sister station in Mount Washington– CBS Radio’s 101.9 Lite FM– fans were anxious to talk about Summer’s life and music.

Lane: “Did you get into her music?”
Radio Caller: “I did. I remember roller skating to her songs in the roller rink.”

At the height of her career, Summer admitted in a memoir that she suffered from depression and at one point, tried to commit suicide. But her family and friends are not remembering her trials but her triumphs.

Summer had 19 No. 1 dance hits. That’s second only to Madonna.

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