NEW YORK (Billboard) - The fall season may be here, but it appears that a return of Summer is just around the corner.
It all begins with a new greatest-hits collection, "The Journey: The Very Best of Donna Summer" (UTV/Mercury/UM), and the enduring artist's much-anticipated autobiography, "Ordinary Girl: The Journey" (Villard/Random House).
Both pave the way for a long-term marketing campaign encompassing TV, retail, film scores and a possible performance tour.
Summer could not be happier. "I am in such a good place right now," she says. "My life story, which I've been wanting to tell for a long, long time, is finally out there -- and it's accompanied by a 'soundtrack' of my musical journey."
"The Very Best of Donna Summer" spans 24 years and includes 18 classics, each digitally remastered. It features all 14 of her top 10 pop hits.
Additionally, the set features three new songs: the trance-laced "You're So Beautiful," the No Doubt-hued "That's the Way" and the bubbly "Dream-a-Lot's Theme (I Will Live for Love)," which is from "The Legend of Dreamway," a children's musical created by Summer.
The latter two were helmed by Giorgio Moroder (news), who produced the bulk of Summer's biggest hits (including the groundbreaking "I Feel Love").
These recordings mark the first time the artist and Moroder have collaborated since the 1992 European single, "Carry On."
Released in the U.S. five years later, "Carry On" won the first Grammy Award in the new category of best dance recording.
"We have had an ongoing relationship since day one," Summer says. "We have never lost touch, though we may not see each other as often as we'd like."
The Tony Moran/Nathan DiGesare-produced "You're So Beautiful" is included on the collection's bonus disc, which spotlights five remixes.
Many club DJs have been playing an unfinished version of "You're So Beautiful" that was leaked to the Internet nearly two years ago.
"We couldn't stop the leak," says Bruce Resnikoff, president of Universal Music Enterprises. "We are now taking advantage of the underground hype."
Summer acknowledges that she was angry the track appeared on the Internet without her consent -- especially since it wasn't finished. "It was out there, and we couldn't stop it. Of course, it has since been completed."
With six greatest-hits collections by the artist in the marketplace, one cannot help but wonder if one more is needed.
"I asked the same question of Universal," Summer says. "But the label thought the book and CD would make a great package."
Released Sept. 30, "The Very Best of Donna Summer" is off to a promising start. The two-disc set entered the Billboard 200 at No. 111 the week of Oct. 18. In the same week, it debuted at No. 65 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
This marks the first time the artist has charted with a (non-live) greatest-hits collection since "Walk Away -- Collector's Edition (The Best of 1977-1980)" in 1980.
The label is placing key Summer tracks in TV shows, commercials and films. Thus far, Capitol One has secured "Hot Stuff" for its national TV ad campaign, and the soundtrack to "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" includes "Last Dance."
Such forthcoming films as "The Whole Ten Yards" and "Shrek 2" and the recently opened "Pieces of April" also feature Summer's recordings.
"Pop culture will be infiltrated with all things Donna," Resnikoff notes.
Summer commenced a promotional tour Oct. 14, encompassing TV and radio appearances, as well as bookstores.
"Donna's appeal is across the board," notes Random House VP/editorial director Jonathan Karp, who edited Summer's book.
Candid and inspirational, "Ordinary Girl: The Journey" is poised to appeal to disco and pop enthusiasts, born-again Christians, African-Americans and the gay community.
But those expecting a "tell-all" may be disappointed, Summer says. "It's a documentation of things that happened in my life. My ups and downs, my triumphs and tragedies, my spiritual awakening."
The reversible book cover, too, displays two sides of Summer. Booksellers can display "the Donna of their choice," Karp notes. One cover shows the artist as she is today, while the other is a still from her "Bad Girls" era.
Now that the book is completed, Summer hopes to have her much-discussed musical, "Ordinary Girl," up and running soon.
"It has certainly been a journey," Summer says. "And while there were times when I felt lost and isolated -- and thought that people wouldn't like me if they knew the real me -- I always knew that, deep down, I was this ordinary girl."
Summer says she is in discussions with several labels about a new recording deal.
"I need a label that will give me space to grow," Summer says. "I want to be as creative as anyone else. That's not too much to ask for, is it?"
Rainy Day Soul
Producer: Bruce Sudano
Release Date: 9/30
Bruce Sudano has been honing his craft as a singer/songwriter for a few decades now. Among other things, he co-wrote Tommy James & the Shondells "Ball Of Fire", was a member of Alive and Kicking ("Tighter, Tighter") and formed Brooklyn Dreams. In addition to releasing a handful of albums on Casablanca Records, Brooklyn Dreams were featured on "Heaven Knows" by Sudano's wife of 23 years, Donna Summer. Sudano and Summer also co-penned "Starting Over Again", a country hit for Dolly Parton. On "Rainy Day Soul", the artist's second solo album, Sudano delivers a collection of sincere pop songs that is a kin to hearing from an old friend. "Show Me Who You Are," "Whether or Not," "All That Matters," "Eagle in the Sky," and "No Exit" spotlight an artist who is not afraid to open up his heart. For more info, visit