(Donna portion of the article only)
Over the years entertainers such as Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle and Prince have sustained successful, chart-topping careers, easily maneuvering changing musical tastes and styles. They've maintained their old fans and pick up new ones with every release. Obviously, not everyone in the music business has been so fortunate. Lionel Richie, the Commodores, Hammer, Melba Moore and Jodi Watley are among those who have never been able to make it back on to the charts, despite numerous attempts.
Making a comeback isn't as easy as just recording a new album. Ask Tina Turner, who has probably made the most successful and most dynamic comeback to date. It takes tenacity and hard work. Sometimes it takes better management or new management and savvy marketing, and, of course, timing is everything. Celebrities we spoke to cited everything from switching record labels and finishing school to touring and even undergoing hard times as reasons for their absence from the limelight. But Cherelle, Tracie Spencer, Donna Summer and Shanice are four singers looking forward to once again basking in the glow of a gold or platinum release.
Born Donna Gaines, in the Dorchester section of Boston, MA, Donna Summer, 50, defined the 1970s disco music generation with hits "Last Dance," "Love to Love You, Baby," " MacArthur Park," "On the Radio," and "I Feel Love." But in the '80s the disco diva hoped to change gears musically. Moving away from the disco sound, she became the first artist to sign with Geffen Records. Unfortunately, it was an unsuccessful union, and she seemed to fade from the limelight.
Summer says that she, however, has never stopped working. In fact, Summer doesn't like the word comeback. She prefers to describe her reemergence as a fresh start.
"I never went anywhere. It's the comeback that never went," Summer says. "I view it as a new beginning. I don't try to match anything that happened in the past. I try to accomplish all that can be accomplished now. With high technology, it's easier to make a new beginning.
"What has helped me is that the press has been gracious to me whenever I have done anything," she continues. "I am grateful for that. People have been supportive of me even when people weren't hearing from me."
Summer actually has spent a lot of time touring outside of the country. In fact, many American artists who are working less at home find enthusiastic and loyal fans playing markets outside of the United States. "When I was successful, I didn't go to a lot of places because I didn't have a lot of time. I have gone [now] to those markets, such as Japan, and played [there]. It's been an interesting situation."