There’s barely a person in the western hemisphere who couldn’t tell you that Gloria Gaynor’s most famous song is I Will Survive, and she’s one of the world’s biggest gay icons, but what do we really know about the sweetheart of 1970s disco?
Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1949, Gloria Fowles was brought up in a musical family, listening to the records of Jazz legend Nat King Cole in her family home. Though her family was not rich, she recalls in her autobiography that it was a house full of love, laughter and music. Both Gloria’s father and her older brothers were artists, with her father on the nightclub circuit and her older brothers forming a gospel quartet, so it would seem like it was inevitable that Gloria too should end up in the music business.
In the 1960s Gaynor joined a band called the Soul Satisfiers, performing jazz and R&B music and recorded her first song; it was at this time that she began performing under the stage name of Gloria Gaynor, one which would continue to serve her well for more than 50 years.
Her first disco album was titled Never Can Say Goodbye and unusually for the time on one side of the record three songs were released as a continuous, 19 minute dance marathon. The release exploded in popularity and the format propelled her to fame, with each individual song becoming a hit in its own right too – Honey Bee, Never Can Say Goodbye and Reach Out, I’ll Be There.)
Although Gaynor was enormously popular within the dance scene it was in 1978 that she cracked the mainstream with the release of I Will Survive. Originally released as a b-side, her label quickly changed it to the main track on her single after an overwhelmingly positive initial response.
As well as an anthem for female emancipation (and particularly black female emancipation) the track became a gay anthem – the number one gay anthem of all time, according to Time magazine.
The gay community had been very involved with the beginnings of the disco movement in underground dance clubs, and as such claimed Gaynor as their own – in latter years I Am What I Am also became a rallying cry for gay communities.
To this day Gaynor remains an icon for many, and one of the greatest living musicians – she still tours regularly and recently released new material.
If the queen of disco is who you want to play your next event then you need to get in touch with her music agent. She would make an excellent choice for any audience with a penchant for a little disco, and her star quality is sure to wow, so contact her booking agency today.