Gloria Gaynor

  • Disco singer born Gloria Fowles in Newark New Jersey in 1949.
  • Gaynor grew up in a house that always was full of music. She listened to Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughan, and her father sang in a group at nightclubs, while her brother formed a gospel group. As a teenager, she practiced singing in mother’s apartment, and an upstairs neighbor was a bandleader at a local nightclub, who invited her onstage to sing – this got her into her first band, Eddie McClendon and the Pacesetters. She sang in a jazz/R&B group called the Soul Satisfiers, and in 1965, she recorded her first song as a solo artist (as Gloria Gaynor), She’ll Be Sorry. She then sang for a group called City Life for 5 years. She would not record again until 1974, when she was signed to a recording contract after several auditions.
  • Music oriented to dance clubs had been developing since the late 60s. Disco would become mainstream in the mid-70s, and Gaynor was an important part of its success. Her first album was released in 1975 – Never Can Say Goodbye. It was one of the first records where an entire side of music consisted of songs without a break between them. The 3 songs – Honey Bee, Never Can Say Goodbye, and Reach Out, I’ll Be There, became a 19 minute dance marathon, and it was enormously popular. Dance clubs today continue to use this technique of running songs together without a break – and Gaynor’s work was the first to use the technique.
  • Radio edits of all three songs were released as singles. Never Can Say Goodbye reached #9 on the Hot 100 chart, and it was the first #1 ever on Billboard’s Disco chart. The other 2 songs reached #2 on the same Disco chart.
  • Gaynor released 4 more dance oriented albums between 1976 and 1978. These albums did not chart highly, and the singles barely made the Hot 100, though 6 songs were top 5 Disco chart songs. She continued to utilize the technique of performing songs without a break between them – with Casanova Brown/Do It Yourself/How High The Moon topping the Disco chart, and Let’s Make A Deal/I’ve Got You Under My Skin/Be Mine peaking at #4.
  • In late 1978, her place in disco was forever set with the release of her album Love Tracks. It included the song I Will Survive. The song originally was the B-side to another song on the album, but when DJs started playing it, the record company quickly re-issued it as the main single on the album. It reached #1 on the Hot 100 and in other countries, selling over 14 million copies worldwide. It became an anthem for female strength, as well as the LGBT community. In 2016, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Recording Registry. It received a Grammy award for Best Disco Recording in 1980 (the only year that a Grammy was awarded for this category), and Rolling Stone puts it at #492 on the Greatest Songs of All Time list. It is in every list of the Greatest Disco songs of all time, often topping the list.
  • Gaynor never again had the success she enjoyed after this mega-hit. Six albums released between 1979 and 1986 were not successful – disco music had run its course, and the anti-disco backlash was in full throttle by the early 80s. One song, I Am What I Am, became a dance hit in 1983, reaching #3 on the Dance Music chart. It became an anthem for the pro-gay movement.
  • She enjoyed a revival of her career in the mid 90s, as the disco kids got older and nostalgic. New studio albums were released in 1997 and 2002, with 2 singles from 2002’s I Wish You Love album reaching #1 on the Dance Club Songs chart. She released an album of contemporary Christian songs in 2013, aptly titled We Will Survive. She frequently performs I Will Survive on TV and in concerts, as she basks in the glow of her success 40 years after her song made her what she is today.
  • In 2019, Gaynor released a Gospel album titled Testimony. It won a Grammy award for Best Roots Gospel Album, her second Grammy, 40 years after her first Grammy.
  • Seems obvious that I should link you to her hit. Here is I Will Survive.

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