By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
NEW YORK, USA (BosNewsLife)– Donna Summer has arrived where she wanted to be most: at home with the Lord. At least that’s what later songs reveal of the American superstar and married mother of three children who passed away at age 63 after losing her battle with cancer.
Most media reports remembered Summer as the ‘Queen of Disco’ with hits like ‘Love to Love You Baby’ – the legend of studio ecstasy and the genre’s ultimate sexual anthem – ‘Bad Girls’ or ‘She Works Hard for the Money’, a song about working women inspired by her visit to a bathroom where the cleaning lady slept of exhaustion.
Yet, few recalled that in the 1980s the singer and songwriter took another turn, claiming to have become a born-again Christian.
“In the last few years my life has changed drastically” she said for an enthusiastic crowd at the time when performing her 1984 Grammy Award winning song ‘Forgive Me’. “Those of you who don’t know me, and those of you who do. See about three years ago, I gave my live to Jesus Christ.”
“And, no…No, no, no. I am not ashamed to tell it. I love Jesus so much I got to talk about Him.”
She said she used to have “selfish” prayers. Yet, “One night this came to me that before I could even ask anything of the Father, I had to first going to forgive all those people I was holding grudges against. And than I could go to Him and maybe He would hear me…For those of you who hold grudges, let them go,” she said, raising up her hands.
A visibly emotional Summer than used her smooth, sultry, soulful voice to sing as best as she could “Every day, I give You a reason to cry. ‘Cause I see the hurt in Your eyes. But stronger yet, I see the love that shines.”
“Help me learn to take on the nature of You. And love more than I accuse. And pardon others like you taught me to.”
She also sang “Forgive me as I learn how to forgive. And reach out through the pain. And touch with hands of grace. As You prayed for those who crucified You: ‘Forgive they don’t know what they do’.”
Summer, who was born Ladonna Adrian Gaines in Boston and whose father was a butcher and mother a schoolteacher, sang from the moment she learned to talk. Her debut performance came in church at age 10 when the scheduled singer didn’t show and the pastor asked Donna to step in.
She later recalled that the church performance left worshipers in tears. “It was quite an amazing moment in my life and at some point after I heard my voice came out I felt like God was saying to me ‘Donna, you’re going to be very, very famous’ and I knew from that day on that I would be famous,” she said.
Yet, life wasn’t always easy for the singer. Even at the height of her popularity she reportedly took steps toward suicide, only to be stopped by the interruption of hotel maids.
She overcame the negative dimensions of relentless public attention, and her legacy as a genre-leading vocalist endured decades later among music enthusiasts.
In the 1990s she also spoke of her personal pain of losing her mother and sister, but made clear that Jesus Christ had been holding her as a captain his ship.
“While riding through the storm, Jesus hold me in his arms,” she sang. “And I am not afraid of the stormy winds and the rains. Although clouds become high, Jesus holds me while I ride. I find safety in the Master’s arms, while I’m riding through a storm.”
Her family, who surrounded Summer during her final hours on this earth Thursday, May 17, in Naples, Florida, said in a statement “We lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith. While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.”
Publicist Brian Edwards explained that she died of lung cancer, but said the singer did not smoke.
In a statement Friday, May 18, he said Summer’s family is overwhelmed and appreciates the outreach from fans and friends, though her funeral services will remain private.
She is survived by her husband Bruce Sudano, their daughters Brooklyn and Amanda, as well as her daughter Mimi from a previous marriage.
(Read more about Donna Summer’s faith here )