Soul music and Pop queen, Donna Summer died on Thursday morning aged 63 after a battle with cancer. Her family has confirmed that the music legend has passed on.
The star, known as the Queen of Disco, passed away in Florida, United States
TMZ is reporting the Seventies icon was battling lung cancer, with sources telling the website Donna believed she contracted the illness by inhaling toxic particles after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.
In a statement to the website, the singer’s family said they ‘are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continue legacy’.
Sources say she had attempted to keep the extent of her illness from fans and was recently trying to finish up her latest album.
Summers, real name LaDonna Gaines, is best know for her string of 70s hits, including I Feel Love, Last Dance and Bad Girls.
She was a five-time Grammy Award winner and the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach number one on the US Billboard chart.
She also charted four number-one singles in the United States within a thirteen-month period.
Summers married actor Helmuth Sommer in 1973 before giving birth to the couple’s daughter Mimi later that year.
Although the marriage crumbled in 1975, she kept an altered version of her ex’s surname to use as her stage name. She married Brooklyn Dreams musician Bruce Sudano in 1980 and the couple went on to have two daughters, Brooklyn, born in 1981 and Amanda the following year.
In 1994, the family moved from Los Angeles to Nashville where Donna took time out from showbusiness to focus on painting but had recently returned to the recording studio.
As well has staggering career highs, Summer also endured personal lows.
She suffered serious depression in the wake of September 11 terrorist attacks in New York.
‘I was really freaked out by the horrific experiences of that day,’ Summer, who was at her Manhattan apartment during the 2001 attacks, once said.
Friends eventually intervened and the born-again Christian also found strength in her faith.
‘I went to church, and light came back into my soul,’ she said in 2008. ‘That heaviness was gone.’
Love to Love You Baby, with its erotic moans, was her first hit and one of the most scandalous songs of the polyester-and-platform-heel era.
Unlike some other stars of disco who faded as the music became less popular, Summer was able to grow beyond it and later segued to a pop-rock sound.
She had one of her biggest hits in the 1980s with She Works Hard For The Money, which became another anthem, this time for women’s rights.
Soon after, Summer became a born-again Christian and faced controversy when she was accused of making anti-gay comments in relation to the AIDS epidemic. Summer denied making the comments, but was the target of a boycott.
Still, even as disco went out of fashion she remained a fixture in dance clubs, endlessly sampled and remixed into contemporary dance hits.
Summer, real name LaDonna Adrian Gaines, was born in 1948 in Boston. She was raised on gospel music and became the soloist in her church choir by age 10.
Love to Love You Baby was her U.S. chart debut and the first of 19 No. 1 dance hits between 1975 and 2008 – second only to Madonna.
During the disco era she burned up the charts: She was the only artist to have three consecutive double-LPs hit No. 1, Live and More, `Bad Girls and On the Radio.
She was never comfortable with the ‘Disco Queen’ label. Musically, she began to change in 1979 with Hot Stuff, which had a tough, rock `n’ roll beat.
Her diverse sound helped her earn Grammy Awards in the dance, rock, R&B and inspirational categories.
Dionne Warwick said in a statement that she was sad to lose a great performer and ‘dear friend’.
‘My heart goes out to her husband and her children,’ Warwick said. ‘Prayers will be said to keep them strong.’
Summer released her last album, Crayons, in 2008. It was her first full studio album in 17 years. She also performed on American Idol that year with its top female contestants.