The Donna Summer Tribute Site

Chicago: The Music Experience 

May 24, 2008

Just got back to Indy. What a night! Donna was very candid and personable. Looked great! I got there ridiculously early as I had forgotten about the time change from Indy to Chicago. I was about four rows back. I didn't know how strict they were going to be about cameras, so I wanted a little buffer zone. Go figure...everyone had cameras...big huge ones. Oh well.

Covered a lot of material, especially from the early days. She cringed at the thought of having her really early material played (ie Sally Go Round the Roses), she was happy he didn't have it as it was, to her knowledge never released. She jokingly hid her face during a clip of "The Hostage". She had explained that to do an English-language song where English was not the main language, the songs HAD to be simple...and it was just to make it embarrasses hear a little.

She got very emotional, several times. Once after a clip of "Last Dance" which the audience continued singing after the clip stopped. 

The next breakdown was after a clip of Friends Unknown was played. She commented she hadn't heard it in years and it just flooded her with emotion. She really broke down, someone had to give her a handkerchief from the audience! She then explained why it touched her so.

The third major breakdown was when they played "Starting Over Again" the song she and Bruce wrote that was recorded by Dolly Parton.

She was also caught off guard when he played a clip of "Sometimes Like Butterflies". At first she was stunned that he had it, then when she realized it was a version recorded by Dusty Springfield, she got a little misty again and commented that she was truly touched that an artist that she admired (and did a little rendition of "Son of a Preacher Man") record her material. She also noted that often times she almost never knows when someone covers one of her songs, so she had never heard that one and it really took her by surprise.

It wasn't all tears. She joked around a lot. In fact it was a joke about how many Manolo Blahnik  shoes her paintings have bought (and continue to buy) for her. Also that her favorite foods were pasta...and fried chicken.

One other kind of funny moment came when Dedry was opening the poster from his "On the Radio" album...he had a little trouble and then we all heard it....just a slight tear.

They kind of glossed over the 80's. He played a clip and got the story of SWHFM. Mentioned that he liked DWG. No clips from CWC or ASG, not even APAT (that surprised me). Of course, he played FU from MI...his favorite of four songs he wanted to play. Guess he's one of us MI Anonymous members. LOL. I would've liked clips from ES as well as the soundtrack work she did through the 90's and of course the various one-off's. I also would've love to hear the stories behind YSB and IGL.

On to the new stuff. Most of the song explanations we've pretty much heard on the EPK and print interviews. She went into a lot of detail about Hattie Mae and how that character was "born" in a department store in Brooklyn as an attempt to throw off some fans that were following her around. Noteworthy was another song she recorded in the Hattie character that didn't make this album and they were "saving it for the next one..." I cheered. LOL Something to look forward to. He also played a clip of "Fame" and mentioned that "deep down (he) knew she's a rocker chick". 

One of my favorite comments that she made and that really showed her enthusiasm regarding the album was that they set out to make every song different. To make almost every song from a different genre. And to take each genre to the next where it hasn't gone yet, so that the artists "behind her" (I loved that), that may be feeling stifled creatively can say "you know what, I want to do that". I took it a step further to say that other artists that are considered passed their prime can go to a label and say "no...this is what I want to do, this is what i CAN do". And then work with talented, current producers that 'get it'...and put out current, relevant material. I really thought that was wonderful.

Then the highlight. She performed SYF. It was AMAZING. Even better than on Idol and ET. Just the backing track...but I don't know if she was more comfortable there or if not having to worry about time or shortening the song for TV or what...but she just nailed it!

I wish I had gotten a video of her telling the Hattie story...but alas, I did not. Hopefully, she'll do more of these and someone will get it. It really was a lot of fun.

Also got my free CD autographed. No was late and they were really rushing people around...and I had a 3 hr drive back to Indy...not that that really mattered. LOL

Just a wonderful night. If anyone has a chance to go to an "Experience" event in Chicago, I highly recommend it. Likewise, the Harold Washington Center is a great venue, also. Oh, that reminds me. Dedry, the interviewer must have been a big fan. He mentioned that normally, he comes out to his own theme song...but that night was different. It was all about Donna. A few of the regulars also mentioned that depending who the star is, they get one hour, maybe two. Donna definitely got two...and the crowd loved every minute of it.

(end of review)

Cathy, sorry that review was so long-winded. I tried to combine a few posts I made to the Forum so I didn't miss anything. Also, I posted it in the "about Donna" section, so many may not know about the videos I recorded. I'll put the links below. They really turned out well. Most of them are too large for YouTube, so I put them on sendspace so people could d/l them. At the very least, I hope you enjoy them!

The clip of the audience singing the end of Last Dance to Donna.

She closed the interview with Stamp Your Feet. By far, the best version I've heard. (this will take over an hour to download)

Here, she explained why songs like Friends Unknown (among others) touch her so. She really wept after they played that song.

My PhotoBucket album of pics from the interview.

A short clip of when they played The Queen is Back.

The SYF clip is the largest. Over an hour to download, the others will be 30 min or less.

- IndyCote

Hold on to Peace. In 2001, my mom passed away. If you've ever lost the physical presence of someone you hold near and dear, you know that the feeling I something you cannot put into words, and if you try to describe the feeling, you feel that you are in someway dishonoring the persons memory to you because no matter how you say it, you know that no words can adequately express the way you feel, or how much the person or person. I said all that to say that since losing the physical presence of my mom, not much in the human experience has brought me joy, happiness or a true feeling of excitement. It’s not that I'm depressed or still going through a grieving process. It’s just the happening that occurs in your mind, and in your life, once you've experienced losing the physical presence of someone you hold near and dear. Donna Summer is one if my few enjoyments in this human experience. She has been since I was of the age of about 9 or 10; somewhere in that area. 

I presently live in Chicago. Donna was in Chicago Saturday, May 24, 2008. The even was called A Musical Experience with Donna Summer at the Harold Washington Cultural Center. It was promoted as a Live interview. I figured I knew as much as could be publicly known about her, so maybe I might not attend this event, and just get a ticket to her concert at Ravinia. (I'm happy I decided to go to the Experience, because standing in line, someone told me that the Ravinia concert was sold out.) Speaking of standing in line, I was kind of the first person in the line. I say kind of because I was the first person to physically stand in line for the doors to officially open. Technically, the first person was actually two people – a lady and her sister. I was later told by one of the ladies that the other could not stand for very long, so they both decided to wait in the car, until the line formed. Once the line began to form, one of the ladies got out of the car, and humbly walked in front of me in the line. Before she could explain, I assured her that I did see her in the car, as I walked to the Harold Washington Cultural Center, and it was perfectly fine. She told me that it was her sister’s birthday, and that her sister was a major fan of Donna, and that she had no idea that the event she was about to see was a Donna Summer 

Fast forwarding to the actual event, Donna looked fabulous. She had on black fitted pants, a black fitted top, with a colorful scarf, tied in the front. Her shoes where beautiful, high heels, sparkling of goldish, white, brown and earth tone gems. The interview covered from the time she was a child, until present. The thing that stood out to me in the interview, and something that she made clear at the beginning of the interview was that Love (God) had and has a design for her life. And that plan was evident from a very young age; not just with a feeling, but with literal experiences that can only be described as Love allowed, Love designed, Love protected. One experience that was a clear Love protected moment happening in Germany. She was experiencing trouble with her heart. A challenge that would lead to a month long stay in the hospital, and after leaving the hospital, a month long bed rest at home. She mentioned that when the emergency happening that caused her to be rushed to the hospital, the hospital that treated the particular heart ailment was only five minutes away. And that if she had been any where else in Germany, the time it would have taken to get her to the hospital might not have been enough time. And if that happened, we would have not known of Donna Summer. 

Throughout the interview, she spoke of several experiences that were truly apart of the design for her life. She laughed at times, she cried at time. We laughed at times, we cried at times. During the interview, a few of her songs were played. The audience sang along when Last Dance was played. She told us that she was so touched by the affection, not just at that event, but throughout the years. She mentioned that socially, she's not much of a club- goer or party person, that she'’s basically a farm girl. That she really doesn't do much outside of the music. So to know, and feel the love from everyone really touches her, reaches her, and warms her soul. 

On a lighter note she mentioned that she has an alter ego-like character by the name of Hattie Mae Blanche Dubois. Hattie can be heard on the song: Slide Over Backwards. Donna said that Blanche was born in Bloomingdale's, many years ago. And since that time had been wanting to sing a song. Slide Over Backwards is that song. Being born in Bloomingdale's came about when Donna and Bruce were in Bloomingdale's shopping. A moment came when Donna was by herself in the store, and a couple of fans spotted her. She heard them say: Hey, that's Donna Summer. Donna mentioned that she knew that if they started to tell other people, she and Bruce wouldn'’t be able to get any shopping done. So, she formed her mouth in an old-style-tobacco-chewing formation, and starting talking in an old-style-southern-grandmother way. And that was the birth of Hattie. 

As I type this, looking at the name Hattie, another name comes to mind. That name is Harriet. Harriet was and is my mom; the one whose physical presence I lost in 2001. By the way, my mom bought my very first Donna Summer concert ticket. As I mentioned, since that time, not much as excited me. I'’m thankful to Love for Donna Summer, and how much she and her creative expressions have remained a source of excitement. 

After the interview, Donna signed copies of her CD, and whatever else a person brought for her to sign. For the signing, she had on a floor length beige coat, and dark colored glasses. Again, she looked fabulous. When it came my time to get my CD signed, although I was in out-of-body-mode, I was able to make it to the table. Before making to the table, I wrote on a piece of paper: Hold on to Peace. I credit holding on to Peace as being what has caused my connection to Love. It has been Love that has kept me, and that keeps me, and shall keep me everlasting. She signed my CD: Hold on to Peace Love Donna Summer. That's one of the reasons I started this out with: Hold on to Peace. I’m thankful to Cathy, and for the years of keeping me up to date with all things Donna. Hold on to Peace. No matter where, no matter what, Hold on to Peace

-  Richard in Chicago

The whole event was great! Donna came out and talked for about two hours. The interviewer (sorry I cannot remember his name!) and her talked about her humble
beginnings in Boston (the first time singing in church), growing up in her family, then her time in "The Crow", her move to Germany, meeting Giorgio and Pete, their work together, etc. The interviewer brought out her albums and talked to Donna about the experience and time of making those albums. A few times she broke down a bit because of certain memories and things that were going on in her life at the time which were very emotional. There were also tears of joy shed as well as the crowd kept shouting out their love for her. I think Donna really enjoyed getting the feedback from the audience and interacting with us. 

She also discussed her faith and how no matter what is going on in her life, she turns to music and it just helps her keep it together and how she lives to write and perform. She also discussed her painting as well.

A lot of the historical stuff she talked about was from the stuff she covered in her book. One thing she was surprised to learn was that Dusty Springfield recorded "Sometimes Like Butterflies". Donna said she loved Dusty's music and never knew she did it. The interviewer played a bit of it for Donna to hear. She also performed "Stamp" to the crowd. 

Afterwards, the meet & greet went well. There was a long line, of course, and I'm sure Donna was tired and her hand was sore from signing all those CDs! I
really think she enjoyed meeting her fans face to face and hearing our love and support for her. 

- John B

[Note: See John's pictures below]


Photos from John

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Photos from Ron
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Photos from Frank
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