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|04-30-2008, 08:13 AM||#1|
I'm Rich Bitch
Join Date: Feb 03, 2002
Location: What Ain't No Country I Ever Heard Of...They Speak English in What?
'Disco Diva' Donna Summer releasing first album in 17 years
NEW YORK (Billboard) - Seventies flashbacks aside, Donna Summer is not Rod Stewart.
When executives at her label saw the massive success that Stewart was having with his oldies albums a few years back, they suggested that the 70s disco diva do the same thing.
Summer had different ideas, and played them a new song she co-wrote with Lester Mendez (Shakira, Santana) and Wayne Hector. The tune, "Be Myself Again," was inspired by James Blunt's smash ballad "You're Beautiful."
"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,"' Summer recalled.
The lyrics sketch a life lived in the public eye, lamenting the resulting loss of self ("I gave everything to play the game/My soul fell apart at the seams"). And at the bridge, when Summer opens up that throaty, yet crystal-clear voice, as familiar to millions as the sound of running water, it's a moment.
"They never mentioned that oldies thing again," Summer said. "Not once."
The track appears on the May 20 release "Crayons (Burgundy/Sony BMG), her first album since 1991's "Mistaken Identity." Not that she was taking it easy in that time.
The 59-year-old is mother to three daughters, two of whom are "in the business"; wife of 27 years to musician Bruce Sudano; and grandma, not to mention painter, amateur interior designer and consistent touring artist (she was at home in Nashville a total of eight short weeks last year).
But the diva -- who is estimated to have sold 130 million albums worldwide -- is also a consummate songwriter, and that was what finally pushed her back to the studio.
"I've been extremely blessed, and I am obviously aware of it. That was one of the reasons I felt that I shouldn't even bother to be out there again, because there are so many people who haven't even had a chance yet, and it just clutters up the market," she said. "But at some point, I just got bored. There were songs that were in me, and the little head kept popping up. I felt like, 'You know what, I'm supposed to do this.' "
"Crayons" brings the unmistakable Summer sound into the 2000s, with the help of a slew of of-the-minute writers and producers, including Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen, Pink), Danielle Brisebois (Natasha Bedingfield, New Radicals), JR Rotem (Sean Kingston, Rihanna) and Evan Bogart, who co-wrote Rihanna's "SOS." Bogart is the son of Casablanca Records head Neil Bogart, who discovered and nurtured Summer before succumbing to cancer in 1982, at the age of 39. Working with the younger Bogart, who "looks just like his dad," was "interesting and very joyful," Summer said.
Bogart's two tracks, "The Queen Is Back" and "Mr. Music," wear their modern influences -- Rihanna, Ciara --on their sleeves, but don't betray what made Summer great in the first place.
"She's still got it," Bogart said. "Her voice is so powerful; she still has that Donna diva swagger. I knew she wanted to stay away from most of the disco elements. She really wanted to come into today's sound. It was finding a compromise -- what's a Donna Summer kind of melody, what's a Donna Summer kind of concept -- and melding them with today's melodies and concepts."
The rest of the material genre-hops without leaving the pop realm. First single "Stomp Your Feet" rocks a big room like a hipper Celine Dion anthem; the Latin-flavored "Driving Down Brazil" has a breezy, windows-down pulse; and "I'm a Fire," the lone electronic dance entry, has "a mellow softness to it that makes it sound unlike a thumping typical dance tune," Summer says. And definitely unlike disco.
"I think her old fans are going to be really excited to hear ("Crayons"). And I definitely think she'll be pulling in new people," Bogart said. "This isn't what Donna Summer sounds like; this sounds like something new."
Summer will hit the road starting in July. She is also scheduled to perform on NBC's "Today Show" on May 30.
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