The Donna Summer Tribute Site

Summer Fever Pick for August 2017 :

Crayons  (2008)

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Here we go!

"[Music] should be a place of sharing... and that's one of the reasons why I like to make a lot of different types of songs. Because I want to reach a lot of different types of people. " - Donna Summer, Friday Night Videos, 1984

In late 2007, we all found out that the title of Donna's new album would be Crayons. And at the time, I thought that was a pretty unusual choice for a title and I wondered where Donna was going with it.  Well, now that I've heard the album, I know exactly why it's called Crayons. Every single track is a different "color" to play with.  Each one beautiful in its own way, but each one distinctly different from the other - just like a real box of crayons.  Unfortunately, that has sort of confounded some of the reviewers out there. They can't put this album into some neat little box labeled "disco" or "pop" or whatever.  So they say the album is "all over the place" like that's a bad thing. But the thing is, that's the WHOLE POINT of the album - to be a little of everything. And Donna succeeds brilliantly - there really is something here for everybody and for every mood. From the quiet and intimate Be Myself Again, to the stadium thumping Stamp Your Feet, to the fun humor of The Queen Is Back, to the haunting Bring Down The Reign, to the sexy electronic groove of It's Only Love, there are enough colors to keep anyone busy for a long time.  (And I have to say that every time I think I have found my favorite track - something else jumps out at me and says "No, pick me!"  LOL) The critics that actually DO get it are the ones who tend to give Crayons rave reviews. As I edit this page for 2014, it's been 6 years since Crayons came out, and I can say that the infatuation has never worn off. This is still one of my favorite Donna albums, and it is the first one I was able to listen to after Donna left us in 2012. The title track was one of the first songs that could make me smile after that terrible day in May.

But nobody's here to listen to me talk - it's time to check out the album.  So let's go play with some Crayons.... 

 

Other Art:

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From the CD Booklet:
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Hattie Mae Blanche Dubois
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The Official Press Release:

The Queen is Back Legendary Singer Songwriter -- Donna Summer is Back With a New Studio Album --Crayons in Stores May 2008 on Burgundy Records/Sony BMG

NEW YORK, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Legendary singer songwriter, DONNA SUMMER, is hard at work on her first studio album of all new material in 17 years! Crayons is set to release on May 20, 2008 on Sony BMG Music Entertainment's Burgundy Records.

In the thirty plus years that Donna Summer has been making music she has never confined her artistry to just one genre. Although Donna is, and will always be, "The Queen Of Disco" to many fans, her hits have spanned multiple musical genres from Rock to R&B to Inspirational and of course, Dance.

Summer helped to define the 70's pop music generation and Crayons will have all the characteristics that made Donna an icon. Containing a potent mix of the up-tempo tunes and ballads, the new album showcases incredible new material that is written by Donna (who wrote or co-wrote the majority of her hits of the 70's and 80's). Working with Donna are renowned writers and producers including: Greg Kurstin (Lilly Allen, Pink), Danielle Brisebois (Natasha Bedingfield, New Radicals), JR Rotem (Sean Kingston, Rihanna), Evan Bogart (co-writer of Rihanna's smash "SOS" and the son of legendary record executive, Casablanca Records founder and Donna's mentor, Neil Bogart), and Lester Mendez (Shakira, Santana).

Donna describes the background of the title Crayons and the aesthetic of the album as "a menagerie of colors and styles, with hints of different ethnic traditions and sounds. My dream is that when people hear the music it will remind them of their youth, their childhood and the joy and wonderment they felt exploring their first pack of Crayons."

Donna's long list of musical accomplishments include: 14 #1 Billboard singles, 12 Gold and Platinum singles, 5 Grammy Awards, 6 American Music Awards, 2 Double Platinum albums, 1 Platinum album, 8 Gold albums. Her song "Last Dance" won both Oscar and Golden Globe awards.

Donna's "Firsts":

  • FIRST female singer to have a #1 album and #1 single on the Billboard charts simultaneously - a feat she accomplished again just a few months later, breaking her own record.
  • FIRST artist to have three #1 double albums on the Billboard charts consecutively with Live and More , Bad Girls, and On the Radio (she
    still remains the only female artist and solo act with this accomplishment).
  • FIRST female solo artist with three #1 hits in a one year period, topping the charts with the singles "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls" and "No
    More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" - a duet with Barbara Streisand.
  • FIRST artist to achieve Gold status with a 12 inch for her single "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)."
  • FIRST artist ever to be given a Grammy for the category "Best Rock Female Vocal Performance" for her Platinum single "Hot Stuff."
  • FIRST artist ever to be given a Grammy for the category "Best Dance Recording" for her song "Carry On."
  • FIRST group of artists to be inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2004, alongside The Bee Gees and Barry White.

    Website: http://www.bmg.com/
    Website: http://www.DonnaSummer.com/

 

Videos

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A Few Quotes:

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“I’ve been out of the box my whole entire career and I’m staying out of the box."

- Donna Summer, PopMatters.com May 20, 2008

 "I think I've allowed myself to be influenced by everything. That's the only way I can explain it. There's a little bit of wherever my head was at that day; there's a little bit of that in it. I've tried to make it as global as possible... I've been so influenced by so many cultural things round the world. I felt like it was important to bring some of those elements sometimes just into the music."

- Donna Summer, The Hartford Courant, July 19, 2007

"There are sounds... like some Indian sounds. Different sounds. Just to give a more global feel. When you make music, obviously you have to find your market while you are working at the same time. It's no good to make an album that the record company goes, 'Ah, we don't know what to do with this.' So you have to have an idea when you go in, or try and give an idea at least. My idea, when I went in, was global."

- Donna Summer, The Hartford Courant, July 19, 2007

"Looking around, I’ve been blessed literally to have a world audience. I’ve traveled all over the world singing in so many different countries and I really wanted to incorporate some sounds and elements, in the words and instrumentation of other places. I wanted the world to recognize that it had also influenced me."

- Donna Summer, Donna's MySpace page, March 28, 2008

"I wanted this album to have a lot of different directions on it. I did not want it to be any one baby. I just wanted it to be a sampler of flavors and influences from all over the world. There’s a touch of this, a little smidgeon of that, a dash of something else … like when you’re cooking."

- Donna Summer, Donna's MySpace page, March 28, 2008

"I'm writing with a lot of younger writers and coming up with some songs that  people will love and add to the background music of their lives.  I'm having a blast being back in the creative process...."

- Donna Summer, TheDay.com, July 20, 2007

"I listen to a lot of foreign and global music. I try to find someone new that I've never heard when I'm traveling; I have a lot of Bocelli; I'm listening to Arabic and African musicians and Israeli violin music. I like to listen to a lot of sounds and rhythms that fall outside of what we are conditioned to hear in America. There's a lot of good American music, but it's also very narrow and there's a lot going on around the world that American close their ears to. So my new album has some global influences. It's danceable, but there are a lot of different influences from other cultures; it's fun to think that maybe  people in other countries can hear their influences on me."

 - Donna Summer, TheDay.com, July 20, 2007

"I am co-writing the songs with a lot of young people. It's not necessarily about their age. It's more about their perceptions.

"Love changes. Singing about love also changes. It's where and who you are. I used to hear MTV being played by my children and I'd say 'Shut that noise off.' Then I started to pay attention to the music - and it changed my perception."

- Donna Summer, NY Daily News, July 22, 2007

"It's a box of crayons. Each crayon has a different stroke of colour and each layer brings with it its own identity," she said. "Every song is designed to be a single."

- Donna Summer, Reuters, May 16, 2008

"HOT STUFF: "I'm a Fire" (Burgundy) by Donna Summer brings the disco diva back to the Hot Dance Club Play chart after an absence of over two years. Debuting at No. 28, "Fire" marks Summer's first appearance on this list since "I Got Your Love" went to No. 4 in December 2005.

"Fire" is Summer's highest new entry on Club Play since "This Time I Know It's for Real" also started at No. 28 the week of June 17, 1989.

Billboard's disco chart was on hiatus when Summer made her breakthrough in America with "Love to Love You Baby" in 1975. Once the chart resumed in 1976, Summer made her debut the week of Oct. 9, 1976, with all cuts from her album "Four Seasons of Love." That gives Summer a Club Play chart span of 31 years, six months and one week."

- Billboard (Chartbeat), March 6, 2008

"[Stamp Your Feet is] the whole concept of being a player in life, coupled with the idea of being a player on an actual field, the whole thing, dealing with the pain and doing things even though you are afraid. Even though you’re afraid of something and your knees are knocking, you get up and do it because a lot depends on it. Players get taken off to the sidelines and bandaged and thrown back in the game because it depends on them to win the game. We’re all ’players.’ It goes back to Shakespeare: ’All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.'"

- Donna Summer, Donna's MySpace page, March 28, 2008

"[The song Crayons] encompasses a lot of what the album is about. Every song is a different color. Since I’m also a visual artist, that title ties a lot of the loose ends of my life together. The song wrote itself pretty quickly. Taking it to the next level, we influence each other in life. You may have an Arab friend or an Israeli friend or an Indian friend and so you go and eat a little Indian food (or have a little pita bread), or something you’ve never experienced and as we immerse ourselves in each other’s cultural experiences, it’s like taking a crayon and coloring over the lines and the lines become blurred between what’s that and what’s the other. You take two colors and create other colors and you add a third color and there’s another color too. That’s how we are in life and that, to me, is a good indication for this album: feeling free to draw between the lines. Everybody gets crayons at some point in their lives, everybody can relate to the basics. It comes down to that child in us, I think there’s a commonality in the concept of ’Crayons.’"

- Donna Summer, Donna's MySpace page, March 28, 2008

"[In The Queen Is Back] I’m making fun of myself. There’s irony, it’s poking fun at the idea of being called a queen. That’s a title that has followed me, followed me, and followed me. We were sitting and writing and that title kept popping up in my mind and I’m thinking, ’Am I supposed to write this? Is this too arrogant to write?’ But people call me ’the queen,’ so I guess it’s ok to refer to myself as what everybody else refers to me as. We started writing the song and thought it was kind of cute and funny."

- Donna Summer, Donna's MySpace page, March 28, 2008

On The Queen Is Back:

"It's just kind of poking fun at the fact that this queen image has prevailed for so long. It's having fun with it and saying I was out of the picture for a while but she's back."

- Donna Summer, Reuters, May 16, 2008

"Mr. Music, he’s like any DJ, the guy on the radio station, the guy in the DJ booth, the guy that’s changing your moods, the guy that keeps you going, the guy that’s on the radio in the morning when you’re driving. He’s everything you need him to be. Music fast forwards you from one place to another because it takes you away from where you are in a strange way and elevates your mood. When I play ’Mr. Music,’ it’s euphoric, it’s very happy."

- Donna Summer, Donna's MySpace page, March 28, 2008

"What I wanted to do is strip down a song. I wanted it to be a cappella. There’s always so much hoopla around the voice, I wanted to do a song where there’s no hoopla. There’s just you and the audience listening to somebody who’s just singing to themselves, singing about the intimate parts of what it has taken to do what they do. The thing to do is stay connected to the true self and that’s really difficult in show business. That’s what the song [Be Myself Again] is about."

- Donna Summer, Donna's MySpace page, March 28, 2008

On Be Myself Again:

"I was thinking to myself, 'I would love to do a song like 'You're Beautiful,' where I don't sing very many lyrics, where there is just the simplicity of a broken heart, no frills."

- Donna Summer, Billboard May 3, 2008

“Hattie Mae is a bartender in the south. She grew up in a very rough environment. Her parents died when she was young. She really had to fend for herself at a very early age. The streets were pretty much her home. She had some relatives that gave her handouts but she really was pretty much on her own. She wanted to sing but her life was so hard. Finally, she evolves to a place where she owns, by default, this little po’ boy restaurant. It’s like a little diner that the local people love. It’s actually becoming quite famous and on certain days of the week she gets a little piano player in there and she sangs. This is her moment to shine.”

- Donna Summer, PopMatters.com May 20, 2008

On Fame (The Game)

The song went fast. She had started the hook to a different track and I loved the idea, so I wrote the verses in 2 hours and recorded her on it. 2 weeks later the label called me from the mastering room and said, we can't use the track, can you write new music to it. So I had half a day to produce a new track to it and sent it straight to the mastering studio.

- Toby Gad, DonnaSummertime May 2008

On Sand On My Feet:

I spent four days at her amazing beach house and one day we were just looking out the window at the ocean, I jammed on the guitar and she sang whatever she saw and felt about the beach and about the love to her wonderful husband. Then she got hungry and went to the kitchen to cook. I followed her with the guitar in the kitchen and said, "Donna, I know you're hungry but we need to finish this song idea...", so we continued writing the song while she was cooking for us.

- Toby Gad, DonnaSummertime May 2008

“‘Sand on my Feet’ is one of the few times I’ve written from my own point of view. I’m almost always writing from a man’s point of view or another person’s point of view.”

- Donna Summer, PopMatters.com May 20, 2008

The Tracks:

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(Click the icons for streaming MP3 clips)

1. Stamp Your Feet (D.Summer/G.Kurstin/D.Brisebois)

2. Mr. Music (D.Summer/J.Rotem/E.Bogart)
3. Crayons (featuring Ziggy Marley) (D.Summer/G.Kurstin/D.Brisebois)
4. The Queen Is Back (D.Summer/J.Rotem/E.Bogart)
5. Fame (The Game)  (T.Gad/D.Summer)
6. Sand On My Feet  (T.Gad/D.Summer)
7. Drivin' Down Brazil (D.Summer/G.Kurstin/D.Brisebois)
8. I'm A Fire (D.Summer/S.A.Morton/A.Kasha)
9. Sliding Over Backwards (N.DiGesare/J.Petren/D.Summer)
10. Science Of Love (D.Summer/T.Gad)
11. Be Myself Again (D.Summer/W.Hector/L.Mendez)
12. Bring Down The Reign (J.Houston/F.Kron/D.Summer)
13. It's Only Love  (D.Summer/S.A.Morton/A.Kasha) *This track was available at first in the USA only on the Circuit City exclusive edition. Most international releases had it as well - I believe Canada was the exception.
Circuit City, and MP3 download sites offered remixes of I'm A Fire as bonus tracks.  Circuit City had the Baggi Begovic & Soul Conspiracy Mix Show and Amazon.com has Matty's Soulflower Club mix.

 

The Podcasts

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Other Stuff:

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To start the buzz for the album, I'm A Fire was sent to club DJs on February 15, 2008 - when it promptly took over the whole internet.  ;-) Originally there were 4 mixes, Craig C's Burning Mix, Extended Red Top Mix, Solitaire Club Mix, and the Sebastian Arocha Morton original album version.) That was followed by a second round of mixes that included Baggi Begovic & Soul Conspiracy Original Mix, Redtop’s Dub, Matty’s Soul Flower Club Mix, Rod Carrillo’s Leave It On The Floor Mix, Rod Carillo’s Groove Dub 8:30. An MP3 single with some of the original mixes appeared on March 11, 2008
A few more I'm A Fire mixes showed on on eBay on a 2 disk  DJ promo set (that ended up selling for about $500!) That set had: Baggi Begovic & Soul Conspiracy Mix 9:01, Baggi Begovic & Soul Conspiracy Mixshow 6:01, Matty's Soulflower Club Mix 9:10, Matty's Soulflower Reprise 5:59, Matty's Soulflower Beats 3:15, Matty's Soulflower Acapella 5:56, Rocasound Original Album Mix 7:23, Craig C. Mixshow 6:15, Lost Daze Remix 8:17, Solitaire Club Mix 7:12, Solitaire Instrumental 7:12, Craig C's Burnin' Club Mix 7:46, Craig C's Master Mix 11:01, Rod Carillo Leave It On The Floor Mix 9:27, Rod Carillo Groove Dub 8:30, Redtop's Extended Mix 7:18, and Redtop's Dub 7:51. That's 17 mixes in all.
I'm A Fire became a number one dance hit on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. For the chart buffs out there, here is the climb: March 15 #28 (debut), March 22 #23, March 29 #14, April 5 #9, April 12 #4 and April 19 #1. It dropped to #4 the following week and continued its descent from there.
When I'm A Fire went to number 1, Donna became the ONLY artist to have a number 1 dance hit in every decade since the 70s.
Limited edition CD copies of I'm A Fire became available through PerfectBeat on April 10, 2008. They sold over 1500 copies in only 2 days. The track list was the same as the ebay disks listed above.
I'm A Fire includes a couple of lines in Spanish:  Que sera/ Esta vida/ Ooo yo te quiero, ooo yo te quiero, ooo yo te quiero/ Esta mañana. Roughly translated, it means "What is it, this life? Oh, I love you , I love you I love you this morning."
Before the album cover was shown anywhere else, it turned up on a Slovenian website of all places. Then before Stamp Your Feet was released as a single, a clip showed up on a Russian music website and apparently the song was getting some airplay on Russian radio.  I'm still trying to figure out how they got it first!  LOL
The first official single was Stamp Your Feet and that was released April 15.
Stamp Your Feet was originally called The Player's Anthem.
In May a number of mixes of Stamp Your Feet were issued: Escape/Coluccio Club, Jason Nevins Extended, Granite & Sugarman Club, Ranny’s Big Room Club, DiscoTech Mix, Escape/Coluccio Mixshow, Jason Nevins Mixshow, Granite & Sugarman Mixshow, Ranny’s Mixshow,  and DiscoTech Edit. These were made available to the fans on a limited edition CD put out by Perfectbeat on May 15.
Sand On My Feet was released to AC Radio in early July of 2008. A couple of weeks later, a promo CD for the song turned up on eBay.  The promo had only the one track.
The the US, the song, It's Only Love, was available only on Circuit City exclusive editions of Crayons.  In July the track finally became available for download on Amazon.com and on August 5, Amazon listed it separately as a single with its own cover. (See the artwork above.)
On at least one track list, Fame (The Game) was missing and in its place was Run With It. Additionally,  a Circuit City exclusive release in the US had both It's Only Love and a remix of I'm A Fire. (International releases include It's Only Love.)
In keeping with the global theme, Driving Down Brazil has a few words of Portuguese in it. It opens with the line "Tudo bem, tudo bem, tudo bom - bom?" repeated a couple of times.  Roughly translated it means "How are you, how are you? How's everything?"
Originally Burgundy wanted Donna to do an album of covers - sort of like Rod Stewart had done. Donna played them Be Myself Again, and that was the end of any talk about a covers album.  :-)
Slide Over Backwards introduces Donna's "special guest", Hattie Mae Blanche Dubois.

During the Stamp Your Feet tour, Donna sang (usually) 8 or 9 tracks from the new album - the most new material she's ever added to a tour. Over the course of the tour, every song but It's Only Love was performed at some point.  Driving Down Brazil and Science Of Love were only performed at a few venues, Fame (The Game) was sung at most (but not all) venues, Be Myself Again was sung at many venues, Bring Down The Reign was only performed in the second half of the tour (at West Coast venues), I'm A Fire was sung at every venue where Driving Down Brazil wasn't performed, and the rest were performed everywhere.

Donna's royalties for Bring Down The Reign are being donated to charities that provide aid in Darfur.
In November of 2008, 12 mixes of Fame (The Game) were released in CD format on Perfectbeat.com and in MP3 form on Masterbeat.com. The mixes are: Ralph Rosario Club, Ralph Rosario Dub, Dave Aude Club, Dave Aude Dub, Dave Aude Dub Instrumental, Dan Chase Full Vocal, Dan Chase Dub, Dan Chase Instrumental, Extended Ultimix Album, Dan Chase Radio, Dave Aude Radio and Ralph Rosario Radio. The original album version was bundled in with the remixes to make a 13 track downloadable album, or a 13 track 2 CD set.
2008 is the 50th anniversary of Crayola's 64 count box of crayons.  Now that's what I call an interesting coincidence!

 

The Critics Have Spoken....

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Note: Thanks to HarriSonic for compiling these.  :-)

This surprisingly lively set finds the former disco diva teaming with a crew of young collaborators for a series of uptempo forays into stomping dance-pop, juke-joint blues-rock, breezy Latin jazz and African-accented soul. Standouts include "I'm a Fire" (which recently topped Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart) and "Stamp Your Feet..."

-  Billboard

The album is Summer�s most audacious effort since "The Wanderer" (1980), drawing upon a myriad of thematic and musical motifs.

-  Popmatters

With humor, style and still-strong pipes, Summer sums up her situation on 'The Queen Is Back,' a nifty back-to-the-disco romp that proclaims her return.

- Boston Herald

Variety marks Summer's return. It's a 12-song tour de force spanning a variety of pop genres from rhythm and blues to samba to dance-hall reggae to old-school disco.

- Washington Times

Queen of Disco's new CD has hot stuff and cool ballads. "Crayons" gives you no reason to doubt her-and it sounds like a labor of love.

- Cleveland Plain Dealer

To hear the breadth of her gospel-trained pop voice and to consider how younger D.J.�s and bands (Tim Goldsworthy, Hercules and Love Affair, Cut Copy) have seized upon and expanded Ms. Summer�s kind of late-�70s disco is to know that it is possible for her to make a great new record.

- NY Times - Critics Choice

On her first album of new material in seventeen years, Crayons, Summer is invigorated and sensational, demonstrating to all aspiring divas and dynamos that nothing takes the place of genuine talent. In ways that embrace her classic sound while exploring diverse and contemporary sonic textures, Summer thrives here with songs simmering with discoth�que thrust and body-rocking bravado.

- Blogcritics

The long-lost queen of disco returns with one of the 17 Marley sons on lead vocals and a clubby, clappy reggae beat. Colour her k-os.

- Globe and Mail

Not only does Crayons remind listeners about the thrill of discovering a brand new song, it's among the very best albums of Summer's four-decade career. Donna Summer deserves a vociferous round of applause for staying true to her artistry on Crayons. Her first album of new material in 17 years honors her legacy while unveiling other facets of her creativity.

- Soul Tracks

For sheer guilty pleasure, "Stamp Your Feet" is one of those uplifting numbers that'll get you moving. "Be Myself Again" is a lovely little ballad. "Crayons," featuring Ziggy Marley, is a fun slice of amped-up reggae. "Fame (the Game)" is like a musical strobe light.

- Dallas Morning News

The album won't have trouble pleasing fans who just want to hear their queen have a blast and tear it up.

- AllMusic

A Disco queen reclaiming her throne. Perfect for: Sweaty nights at the club.

- Vibe

Her new single 'I'm a Fire' sees Donna's trademark pitch perfect voice ripping into this dance number like the true pro that she is.

- QX

The diva of nightclub jams makes some savvy modernizing tweaks to her sound on her first album of new material in 17 years, "Crayons," and maintains an appeal that relies in equal measure on enticing grooves and the manner in which she spins them.

- courant.com

Summer co-wrote all 12 songs on Crayons and just in case you were wondering, her voice is still terrific. The title track features vocals from Ziggy Marley, the son of reggae legend Bob Marley, and the reggae beat is quite catching. Interestingly, two of the strongest tracks are ballads: "Sand On My Feet" and "Be Myself Again." "Sand On My Feet" is stripped down to an acoustic guitar and Summer's voice while "Be Myself Again" is a piano-driven ballad.

- The Leader Post

Donna Summer makes a big return with an appealing new album.

- MetroWeekly

Donna Summer is back and ready to take on anyone in the music industry with Crayons; she does not even have to prove herself as an artist who can transform her sound and keep old fans and gain new ones. She succeeds in creating great music for anyone of any age to love.

- Celebrity Cafe

Highlights include the electronic I'm a Fire, which has already given Summer the distinction of having a Billboard No. 1 Club Play hit in every decade since the '70s. Pod Picks: Fame (The Game), I'm a Fire.

- Miami Herald

Crayons with all its songs co-written by Donna Summer, is an international banquet of musical delights and surprises.

- Jazz-Quad

The overall album is a collection of fine songs that showcase Donna's interests and diversity.

- PartyFavorz

"Crayons," her first release of all-new material since 1991, is a surprisingly intense bid for a comeback, a thoroughly contemporary release loaded with vigorous diversity and relevance.

- Kansas City Star

As a quality pop album and as a showcase of Summer's versatility, it's a roundly successful effort. Although her last original album was released seventeen years back, it's been even longer since Donna herself has sounded this engaged and exciting.

- Disco Delivery

 

Purchase Info:

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Crayons can be found at Amazon and Amazon UK and  other on and offline vendors. 

 

     

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