If anyone tells you about “Instant success” to any endeavour, I’ll advise you to run away from them. They may want to scam you or make you have an indifferent attitude towards what you do. And that will automatically lead you to apparent failure.

Even the greatest footballer of all time Pele says: “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love what you are doing or learning to do.” His quote about success is clear and concise; as he identified hard work as one of the key ingredients.

We can view hard work from different perspectives but today, we will study the life of Donna Summer referred to the “Queen of Disco” and how she rose to fame through this key ingredient of success – hard work.

LaDonna Adrain Gaines was widely known as Donna Summer. She is an American singer, songwriter and painter who gained prominence during the disco era of the 70’s. She is a Grammy Award winner and the first artiste to have three consecutive double albums to reach number one on the United States Billboard 200 chart and charted four number-one singles in the U.S. within a twelve-month period. With this kind of result, I believe both established and upcoming artiste will want to know the secrets of her journey to fame and stardom.

Like every other child, LaDonna Adrain Gaines was born in 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts to Andrew and Mary Gaines. And was one of seven children. She was raised in the Boston neighbourhood; her father was a butcher and her mother a schoolteacher.  As I studied Donna Summers’s biography, there were certain qualities I believe any artiste who wants to succeed should imbibe. And they are:

1. Relentless Hard work

One quality of successful people is their commitment to work. This total commitment and dedication keep them in constant pursuit of their dreams. They are not distracted by their part-time jobs. All they do is work hard while keeping their eyes on the set goal. Immediately after high school, Summer moved to New York to sing and act in stage productions. Her continuous drive landed her a role in a German Production of Hair. She was always on the move searching for the next project. Summer performed in various stage musicals and worked as a studio vocalist in Munich, recording demos and background vocals. Her first solo recording was 1971’s “Sally Go ‘Round the Roses.” Despite all her efforts and hard work, success would not come until 1974 when she met producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte while working on a Three Dog Night record. 

This should be an encouragement to artistes, success doesn’t happen to idle people but will only happen when you’re busy engaging your talent and passion in what you’ve chosen to do.

2. Team Work

There is a popular quote that says: “If you want to run fast run alone, but if you want to run far run together.” 

Donna Summer did not sing alone but opened herself for opportunities by teaming up with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. The three teamed up for the single “The Hostage,” which became a hit around Western Europe. After gaining popularity and acceptance Summer then released her first album, Lady of the Night, in Europe only. The trio further released more songs in 1975 recording more successful hits.

3. Consistency in her Release of Songs

Her songs were making hits, yet she never stopped for a moment. She was always releasing new hits in between. I often advise artistes that even if they are singing gibberish and the public accept their brand of music, they should continue and be consistent. The day they lose consistency, they lose their audience. 

For Instance, in Nigeria when you think of a “wack” songs with no message in its content Terry-G comes to mind. Today, where is Terry-G? He has lost it because he lacked consistency. If you desire last longing success, then you must stay constituent in releasing new songs.


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Summer’s 1979 double-LP Bad Girls featured more of her songwriting contributions than ever, and went straight to number one, as did the lusty singles “Bad Girls” — co-written with husband Bruce Sudano — and the rock-oriented “Hot Stuff,” which made Summer the first female artist ever to score three number one singles in the same calendar year. Her greatest-hits package On the Radio also topped the Billboard 200, the first time any artist had ever hit number one with three consecutive double LPs; the newly recorded title track became another hit, and Summer’s duet with Barbra Streisand, “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough),” became her fourth number one single.

4. She knew there was always more

Some people who get to the pick of their careers and then stop pushing for more. That was not the same for Summer. At the peak of her success, Summer left Casablanca and became the first artiste signed to the new Geffen label. She sensed that the disco era was coming to a close, she changed her style to include more R&B and pop/rock on her first Geffen album, 1980’s The Wanderer; the album and its title track were both hits. She was also careful not wanting to alienate her core audience, Summer then returned to pure dance music on an attempted follow-up; however, Geffen deemed I’m a Rainbow not worthy of release (it was finally issued in 1996). Instead, Summer ended her collaboration with Moroder and Bellotte and teamed up with Quincy Jones for 1982’s Donna Summer. As an artiste, if you want to stay long in the industry, there are always new territories to conquer. The day you stop reaching for new challenges that is the day your fame and popularity in the industry will dwindle.

Listen to one of her hit singles: “I feel love”

Summer continued to perform in concerts and having media appearances during the next several years. She then released “To Paris with Love,” her final chart-topping single, in 2010. After battling lung cancer, Donna Summer died in Naples, Florida on May 17, 2012. The following April, she was inducted into the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Collin Powell


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