This is a collection of articles that followed the taping of Donna's February
4, 1999 concert at Hammerstein Ballroom in NY.
SUMMER FEVER: Well, it's Official. DONNA SUMMER has inked a multi-album deal
with Epic Records. And according to LEE CHESNUT, VP of A&R at the label,
the deal is so recent the ink is still drying on the contract.
The Singer/Songwriter's first album for EPIC - scheduled for summer release
-- will be a live greatest hits collection. Additionally, says Chesnut, it
will feature a live version of "MY LIFE ," taken from Summer's first musical
theater effort. " Ordinary Girl ," as well as two or three as yet- determined
new studio tracks.
The Live portion of the album will include her hits, but there will definitely
be some surprises," says Frank Ceraolo, senior director of marketing and
A & R at EPIC. "By that, I mean some of her more unpredictable hits.
With such a large and successful repertoire, the possibilities are virtually
Of course, if we had a hand in designing the set's track list, it might look
something like this (and not necessarily in this order): "Could it be Magic",
"Try Me, I know we can make it", "On the Radio", "MacArthur Park", "State
of Independence", "Don't Cry for Me Argentina", "Dim all the lights" (performed
the way she intended Rod Stewart to sing it), "Summer Fever", "If It Makes
you feel good", and "There will always be a You". Of course "Melody of Love(Wanna
be loved)" would have to be squeezed in somewhere.
The Live portion of the album will be culled from a concert taped Feb. 4th
at New York's Hammerstein ballroom for VH1, says Chesnut, who says "At this
time, the network has plans to premiere the show sometime in June or July.
And then we'll have the album in stores the next day. The label sees this
release as a follow-up of sorts, to "Diva's LIVE."
Ceraolo concurs, adding, " DONNA SUMMER brings a lot to the table, especially
an overwhelming amount of artistry. Without question, she brings a level
of excitement back to dance music. She epitomizes what a true dance artist
is. While she may have done new wave, rock and R & B in the past, the
root of what she is -- is dance.
"This is the kind of project that has the power to help the dance community
as a whole, " continues Ceraolo. "Perhaps other labels will see this as a
call to develop dance artists. Let's face it, there have been too many talented
singers who have been misguided in terms of artist development."
...Well, the groundhog didn't see his shadow last week, and that can only
mean one thing: Summer's on her way. DONNA SUMMER that is. Mark your calenders.
The "Love to Love You" Lady has signed a new recording contract with SONY,
and she'll be putting out an album on EPIC this summer. The news left us
hankering for a big old slice of "MacArthur Park". Lucky for us then, that
on Thursday night, DONNA was taping a special for VH1 at the Hammerstein
It was a well-heeled and suprisingly boisterous crowd that showed up courtesy
of Epic, VH1 and WKTU, including surprisingly few queens we recognized. But
we did catch sight of Richard Perez-Feria, Clifford Finn, Mike Slezak, Rosie
Todino Irre, Noel Alicea and Todd Evans before DONNA took the stage. When
she did, looking fit and trim and elegant as all get out, the crowd lit up.
In splendid voice, she moved through a comprehensive set, including her
high-disco classics, her guitar-festooned early 80's work and her late '80s
and '90s comeback hits, as well as a few inspirational songs and a couple
of tunes from the musical based on her life that she's been writing down
in Nashville. You didn't know about the project, did you?
MS. SUMMER also reminded us that she had originally written "Dim all the
Lights" with Rod Stewart in mind (he probably should dim them a little by
now, don't ya think?) before taking the song for her own. Before giving us
her version, she treated the crowd to a verse and chorus as Rod would have
But the biggest surprise of the night came when DONNA pointed out her new
labelmate, Aussie wench Tina Arena, in a crowd and proceeded to call her
up on stage. Surely a duet was coming our way - and that could only mean
From the weight of sheer anticipation, not a single breath was drawn in the
ballroom as Ms. Arena took the stage in a black, corsetty thing that looked
like a Gaultier-meets-Theyskens Madonna hand-me-down. And then DONNA began.
It's raining, It's pouring. The crowd went wild as she launched into the
first line of "Enough is Enough". But we also got to wondering, would her
young friend from Down Under, best known for "Chains," be up to the task.
We suspect some Streisand fans in the audience secretly hoped that she wouldn't.
We had our own doubts, too. But Tina proved to have more than Enough. Who
knew she such a powerful voice? She more than held her own with both our
beloved DONNA and the voice of Streisand that was ringing in all our heads.
We'll definitely be looking forward to Tina's new album that's due out next
FAIRY TALE HIGH: It's days after Donna Summer's Feb. 4 performance at New
York's Hammerstein Ballroom and, quite honestly, we're still reeling. To
say that the artist served would be an understatement. To paraphrase one
of her many cherished songs, she worked hard for her clamoring fans.
Walking onto the stage wearing a flowing black gown and a Whitney-by-way-of-Faith
wig, Summer, who recently signed to Epic Records, looked ever the consummate
artist. Standing center stage, she followed the band's lead as it introduced
the opening notes to "MacArthur Park." Midway through the song, she burst
into a wide smile. By the time she arrived at "On The Radio," the fourth
song of the evening, her face was glowing. In the sparkling eyes of her fans,
La Summer could do no wrong - and she didn't.
While the bulk of the nearly two-hour show was devoted to her hits - "This
Time I Know It's For Real," "I Feel Love," "Dim All The Lights," "She Works
Hard For The Money," "Bad Girls," "Hot Stuff," and "Last Dance" - Summer
did manage to squeeze in a handful of non-signature tunes: the Gershwin-penned
"Someone To Watch Over Me" (from the musical "Oh, Kay!"), the gospel rouser
"Riding Through The Storm," the power ballad "Nobody," and the Sheryl
Crow-meets-Bruce Springsteen vibe of "I Don't Wanna Work."
Summer also previewed two songs from "Ordinary Girl," her first musical theater
effort. "My Life," which segues from a ballad into a peak-hour club stomper
(à la "Last Dance") has "hit" written all over it. In fact, so infectious
is this song that, days after the show, we still find ourselves singing its
chorus ("This is my life/This is my song/Standing right here/Out on the
stage/This is my life").
Before easing into the heartfelt ballad "If There Is Music There," Summer
explained that the song arrives at a point in the musical when issues of
"following your dreams" are confronted. As she hit the last note of the song,
there wasn't a dry eye in the house - including hers.
As wonderful as all this was, the highlight occurred when Summer welcomed
her "little Australian sister," singer/labelmate Tina Arena, to the stage.
Within moments, the duo was injecting new diva drama into "No More Tears
(Enough Is Enough)," a No. 1 crossover hit for Summer and Barbra Streisand
in 1979. And, truth be told, Arena ably held her own as she embodied Streisand's
role. Consider this the genius pairing of the year!
Fortunately, and as we mentioned last issue, the concert was being filmed
for a VH1 special that will air in the summer. The day after it airs, Epic
will issue a CD of the performance - much the same way the label did
with "VH1 Divas Live." We can hardly wait.
On February 4, Donna Summer gave an explosive performance at the Manhattan
Center in New York City.
She was energetic, enthusiastic and with a disco ball hanging from the ceiling
- the 70's came rushing back. Donna Summer didn't disappoint her fans either,
singing all the classic songs weve come to know on the radio, clubs
and parties today - including Macarthur Park, Bad Girls
and Hot Stuff.
Since the 70's, Donna has found another family with Sony Records and up and
coming artist Tina Arena, who Donna has taken under her wings. During the
performance Tina joined Donna on stage for a beautifully done - No
More Tears (Enough Is Enough).
The highlight of the evening, and her most famous song, Last Dance
closed the two hour concert. Donna Summer will take Broadway by storm in
the near future, so don't miss the chance to catch this super diva in action.
- Tara Tzoucalis