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Gloria Gaynor

Gloria Gaynor performing in 2003
Background information
Birth name Gloria Fowles
Born September 7, 1949 (1949-09-07) (age 60)
Origin Newark, New Jersey
United States
Genres Dance-pop, disco, R&B
Occupations Singer-songwriter, actress
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1965–present
Labels MGM (1965–76)
Polydor (1976–83)
Chrysalis (1984–85)
Stylus (1986–88)
Hot Productions (1996–97)
Logic (2000–04)
Radikal (2005–Present)
Associated acts Soul Satisfiers, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross

Gloria Gaynor (born Gloria Fowles on September 7, 1949 in Newark, New Jersey), now living in Green Brook, New Jersey, is an American singer, best-known for the disco era hits; "I Will Survive" (Hot 100 #1, 1979), "Never Can Say Goodbye" (Hot 100 #4, 1974), "Let Me Know (I Have a Right)" (Hot 100 #42, 1980) and "I Am What I Am" (Hot 100 #82, 1983).


Early career

Gaynor was a singer with the Soul Satisfiers, a jazz/pop band, in the 1960s. Her first solo single was "She'll Be Sorry/Let Me Go Baby" (1965).

Her first real success came in 1975 with the release of her album Never Can Say Goodbye, which established her as a disco artist. The first side of this album consisted of three disco songs ("Honey Bee", "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "Reach Out, I'll Be There"), with no breaks in between the songs. This 19-minute dance marathon proved to be enormously popular, especially at dance clubs. All three songs were released as singles via radio edits, and all of them became hits. This album was so instrumental in introducing disco music to the public, that many later believed that Gloria Gaynor had been the first artist to record disco. "Never Can Say Goodbye" became the first song to top Billboard magazine's dance chart. So, in that sense, she was the first. Capitalizing on the success of her first album, Gloria Gaynor quickly released her second album, Experience Gloria Gaynor, later that same year. While this album was also successful, it was not quite as popular as her previous album in the mainstream.

Some of her lesser-known singles, due to lack of recurrent airplay — including "Honey Bee" (1974), "Casanova Brown" (1975), and "Let's Make A Deal" (1976) — became hits in the clubs and reached the Top 5 on Billboard's disco charts. After her 1976 album, I've Got You, Gaynor shifted from her hit production team, to work with other productions. While it seemed like a good move, her subsequent producers did not seem to match Gaynor's vocal approach and style as well. Gaynor is a former Scientologist.[1]

Major mainstream breakthrough

In the next few years, Gloria Gaynor released the albums Glorious and Park Avenue Sound, but would only enjoy a few moderate hits. However, in late 1978, with the release of her album Love Tracks, she climbed the pop charts again because of her song "I Will Survive". The lyrics of this song are written from the point of view of a woman, recently dumped, telling her former lover that she can cope without him and does not want anything more to do with him. The song has become something of an anthem of female emancipation, and is still a staple of office parties and karaoke nights. Interestingly, "I Will Survive" was originally the B-side when Polydor Records released it in late 1978. The A-side, a song called "Substitute", then a recent worldwide hit for South African girl-group Clout, was considered more "radio friendly". Boston Disco Radio DJ Jack King turned the record over and recalls being stunned by what he heard. "I couldn't believe they were burying this monster hit on the B-side", says King. "I played it and played it and my listeners went nuts." This audience response forced the record company to flip the songs, so that subsequent copies of the single listed the more popular song on the A-side. King was honored at New York's "Disco Masters Awards Show" for 3 consecutive years (1979-1981) in recognition of his relentless push of the song. The song was awarded the only Grammy Award ever for Best Disco Recording in 1980.

In late 1979, she released the album I Have a Right which contained her next disco hit, "Let Me Know (I Have a Right)", which featured Doc Severinsen of The Tonight Show fame, on trumpet solo. Gaynor also recorded a disco song called "Love Is Just a Heartbeat Away" in 1979 for the vampire movie Nocturna: Granddaughter of Dracula which featured a number of disco songs.

Stateside career decline

In 1980 and again in 1981, Gaynor released two disco albums which were virtually ignored in the United States due to the backlash against disco, which began late in 1979. The album's singles barely registered on Urban contemporary radio, where disco music remained popular. In 1982, she became a Christian and began to distance herself from a past she considered to be sinful. She would not release an album in 1982. In 1983, she released an album entitled Gloria Gaynor, in which she rejected disco for mid-tempo R&B and Pop style songs. The album contained a patriotic song called "America" as well as a new version of "I Will Survive". In this new version of "I Will Survive", she changed the lyrics of the song in order to advertise her new conversion to Christianity. The words "It took all the strength I had not to fall apart" were changed to "Only the Lord could give me strength not to fall apart". The album was not a success in the Pop, Dance or Urban markets. This move proved to be a turn off to all other than her devoted fans.

Gaynor would achieve her final success in the '80s with the release of her album I Am Gloria Gaynor in 1984. This was mainly due to the song "I Am What I Am", which became a hit at dance clubs, and then on the Club Play chart in late 1983/early 1984. "I Am What I Am" made Gaynor a gay icon. However, her career went into sharp decline following this hit. She mainly made her living outside of the US where there was never any disco backlash. Her 1986 album, The Power of Gloria Gaynor, which was almost entirely composed of cover versions of other songs that were popular at the time. The album was ignored, becoming a commercial failure.

Career revival

Gloria began to revive her career worldwide with the revival of disco beginning in the early to mid 1990's.

During the late 1990s, she dabbled in acting for a while, guest starring on The Wayans Bros, That '70s Show, and Ally McBeal before doing a limited engagement performance in Broadway's Smokey Joe's Cafe.

In 2001 she sang "I Will Survive" in the 30th Anniversary Concert for Michael Jackson.

She returned to the recording studio in 2002, releasing her first album in over 15 years, entitled, I Wish You Love. The two singles released from the album, "Just Keep Thinking About You" and "I Never Knew", both topped Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play. Both singles also secured moderate to heavy Dance format radio airplay. The latter song also charted #30 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart.

After almost 30 years of its release, Gaynor continues to ride the success of "I Will Survive", touring the country and the world over and performing her signature song on dozens of TV shows. A few successful remixes of the song during the 1990s and 2000s along with new versions of the song by Lonnie Gordon, Diana Ross, Chantay Savage, rock group Cake and others as well as constant recurrent airplay on nearly all Soft AC and Rhythmic format radio stations have helped to keep the song in the mainstream.

On September 19, 2005, Gaynor was honored twice when she and her music were inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame. She was inducted in the Artist Inductees category along with fellow disco legends Chic and the late Sylvester. Her classic anthem "I Will Survive" was inducted under the Records Inductees category.

In 2004, Gaynor re-released her 1997 album The Answer (also released under the title What a Life) as a follow up to her successful album I Wish You Love. The album includes her popular club hit "Oh, What a Life".

In January 2008, The American Diabetes Association named Gaynor the Honorary Spokesperson of the 2008 NYC Step Out To Fight Diabetes Walk.[2]

In July 2009, she appeared on The John Kerwin Show to promote the 30th anniversary of "I Will Survive".[3]




  • 1977 - The Best of Gloria Gaynor
  • 1982 - Greatest Hits
  • 1994 - Reach Out
  • 1995 - I'll Be There
  • 1998 - I Will Survive: The Anthology
  • 1998 - The Gloria Gaynor Album
  • 2000 - 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Gloria Gaynor
  • 2001 - Ten Best: The Millennium Versions
  • 2002 - I Will Survive
  • 2006 - All The Hits Remixed
  • Universal Masters Collection


Year Single Peak chart positions
1974 "Honey Bee" 55
"Never Can Say Goodbye" 9 34 1 2
1975 "Reach Out I'll Be There" 60 14
"Real Good People" 6
"Walk on By" 98 8
"All I Need Is Your Sweet Lovin'" 44
"Casanova Brown" 1
"(If You Want It) Do It Yourself" 98 24
"How High the Moon" 75 73 33
1976 "Let's Make a Deal" 95
1978 "I Will Survive" 1 4 1 1
"Substitute" 78
1979 "Anybody Want to Party" 16
"Let Me Know (I Have a Right)" 42 32
1981 "Let's Mend What's Been Broken" 76
1983 "I Am What I Am" 82 13
1984 "Strive" 86
1985 "My Love Is Music"
1987 "Be Soft with Me Tonight" 80
1993 "I Will Survive" (remix) 5
1997 "Mighty High" (with The Trammps) 12
2000 "Last Night" 67
"Just Keep Thinking About You" 1 99
2002 "I Never Knew" 1 30
2006 "The Power of a Woman In Love"
2008 "Hacer Por Hacer" (with Miguel Bosé)[A]
"—" denotes releases that did not chart
  • A^ "Hacer Por Hacer" reached #17 in Spain.

See also


  1. ^ The Guardian staff (October 4, 2006). "Listed Scientologists". The Guardian: p. 29. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ [1]

External links

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