Donna Summer’s three-decade chart reign.

How Donna Summer Transcended Disco

How Donna Summer Transcended Disco

Half a century of pop-chart history.
Nov. 27 2017 11:03 AM

Hit Parade: The Queen of Disco Edition

Donna Summer set chart benchmarks and managed to stay relevant for more than three decades. Why didn’t she get more respect from the rock establishment?

Recording artist Donna Summer
Donna Summer performs on May 29, 2003, in New York City.

Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images

Listen to Episode 7 of Slate’s Hit Parade:

Donna Summer was a hit-maker for two decades and a dance floor deity for more than three. Her collaborations with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte were formative in dance, electronic, and rock music, influencing everyone from David Bowie and Blondie to Madonna and Moby. But the rock establishment was stinting in its appreciation—whether at Comiskey Park in Chicago  in 1979 or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the 2000s. This month, we examine how Summer became the queen of disco … and how she transcended that role altogether.