Put on your dancing shoes: nearly 17 years since releasing her last original studio album, the first lady of dance is ready to shake things up again with a new record.
Dominating the disco scene in the late ’70s and early ’80s with her unique hybrid of American soul, European synth-pop and undeniable sex appeal, Donna Summer has won five Grammys, is one of only three artists (along with Madonna and Janet Jackson) to ever have three consecutive number one platinum albums and was inducted—twice—into the Dance Music Hall of Fame.
She’s also an accomplished abstract painter, and smaller prints of her work will be on sale during her 30-city North American tour in July and August, which includes stops in Vancouver, Ottawa, Los Angeles and New York City.
Summer has a soft spot for the Italian charm hidden in Napa Valley’s wine country, but when she’s looking to relax and recharge, she heads for a tropical paradise like Hilo, Hawaii.
"I like wine country. The Napa Valley, it is just... breathtaking. You drive down some of these little highways and left and right of you there are grapes growing everywhere and it feels so much like Italy—you can’t tell that you’re even in the United States.
"I’m not much of a wine drinker, but there are some wonderful American wines being produced there. The atmosphere [makes] you feel connected to the earth. You feel like you’re part of something that’s bigger than yourself, and yet something that’s so peaceful and so magnificent that you don’t want to leave.
"My friends just bought a house [in] Hilo, and it has a lot of greenery and it’s very, very pretty there. I don’t know it that well, I was only there that one time, but it is really magnificent.
"It feels more like what you think Hawaii should be. I would describe it as green, moist, voluptuous. It is a voluptuous place; everything that grows there grows big. Because of the sun and the humidity, there is a sense of density to the place that I like.
"[You can] explore the island and just drive around, look at the water, lay in the sun, go to the beach. My friend has an orchard behind his house, so we just go up in his garden and pick oranges or just do natural things.
"I’m a very naturally oriented person. I like to live a green life and I like things [being] green around me. I like watching deer and birds and—you know, I could be in the garden for hours just watching birds fly around.
"What’s nice about being in places that are tropical and subtropical is that you get all of these wild birds and parrots, and it’s just amazing to be there. It’s like, ‘Wow, this is what it used to be like on the planet!
"I live an active, public life, and there are always things you want to do and you don’t want to do. But the thing that’s special is to be able to draw away to some place that affords you some incredible privacy and silence, so that you can hear the waves and you can aspire to your inner self and get in touch with the things that you really want in your own life."