Originally posted November 2005 in Legends Online
Gloria Gaynor is an international household name. From the start of her career back in the early 1970’s, she has become an icon and inspiration to the masses worldwide. With her signature song, “I Will Survive,” the Newark, NJ native, has toured all over the globe performing for kings and dignitaries.
Gaynor, 56, prefers to perform before a live audience in fact singing has always been an important part of her life. Her vocal style has influences from traditional R&B and jazz to pop and gospel music. “I vocalize (perform vocal exercises) at least 3 times a week,” she said. “I don’t indulge in alcohol or drugs, and I protect my vocal cords during the winter and just before I have to sing I will not talk as much.”
In 1975, she had the honor of making dance music history with the recording of “Never Can Say Goodbye” which contained the #1 hit “Honey Bee,” delivering disco music to the world. With a career that spans over 3 decades Gloria shows no signs of slowing down. In March of 2001, she released, “Just Keep Thinkin’ About You,” which topped the Billboard Dance/Club charts at #1. These last few years she continues touring abroad all while maintaining her residence in the United States. When she’s not touring Gloria uses her talents to developing projects back home. Currently she’s working on several projects including the development of a screenplay based on her autobiography, “I Will Survive.”
On the eve of her induction into the Dance Music Hall of Fame she took some time out of her busy schedule to speak with us.
LEGENDS: Thank you Ms. Gaynor for allowing us to interview you. My parents are big fans and for as long as I could remember I recall hearing your music.
GLORIA: Thanks, I’m honored.
LEGENDS: Your career spans over 3 decades, what do you attribute your longevity to?
GLORIA: I think it’s because I’ve chosen the right songs with good lyrics, melody and good production. Music that people could relate to.
LEGENDS: Where do you find your personal inspiration?
GLORIA: It’s my relationship with Christ.
LEGENDS: Okay well put.
LEGENDS: If you could travel back in time, to the days when your career started to take off what advice would you give to yourself?
GLORIA: I would tell myself; be more assertive about the things that you want. I was laid back during those days because I was always surrounded by people that knew what they were doing. Don’t get me wrong I don’t believe that I made any wrong choices but I would have had more input. I would have made sure that I did what I wanted more often.
At this point we drifted off to the subject of movies and her book. I’d forgotten that I was speaking with a woman of Ms. Gaynor’s stature. She was totally at eased; before getting back to business we shared a few laughs, it was if I was talking to one of my good friends.
LEGENDS: Who would you cast in the lead role in the story of your life?
GLORIA: (A deep sigh before a short pause then she quickly responds)
Angela Bassett. I wish that I had that girl’s body. All those nice rips and cuts girlfriend sure looks good.
I wrote a screen play to complement my book “I Will Survive” (St. Martin Press) written in 1997. I will make some changes and maybe work with someone to make the movie happen. I’m going to be in a movie called “Gray Matters” with Tom Cavanagh, Heather Graham and Sissy Spacek coming soon.
LEGENDS: Of all the songs that you have recorded which one is your personal favorite?
GLORIA: “I Will Survive” is my personal favorite because the public loves it and it has taken me to 80 different countries around the world. The song is an inspiration to everyone. It has lyrics that’s relatable, a mirror image that underscores what folks are going through.
LEGENDS: It has been well over a decade since you’ve last recorded a major album, why did you wait so long?
GLORIA: I have been recording and touring in Europe. They’re kind of old school over there not as techno. They love old school music over there, which to me will always be good music with good writing. I have recorded a couple of albums that were released in Italy and I did a project in Germany unfortunately the label closed without notice and the music did not reach audiences in the United States. There’s so many politics in the industry.
LEGENDS: Do you still reside in the United States? If not, where do you currently reside? I believe that many of your fans assumed that you lived and worked in Europe.
GLORIA: I am 200% African-American I still live in the United States.
LEGENDS: I’ve heard that you are good friends with Ms. Candi Stanton (When You Wake Up Tomorrow, Young Hearts Run Free) tell us a little bit more about your friendship?
GLORIA: I’m also good friends with Evelyn Champaign King, Donna Summer, Thelma Houston and others. Donna and Thelma calls sometimes. I do not see Evelyn as much because she lives out West. But I‘m closer to Candi than the others.
LEGENDS: Wow you have named some heavy hitters in the dance disco world have you ever considered coming together to record an album? I’d pay to top dollar to see you all tour together.
GLORIA: It would all depend on several factors like our schedules, commitments to our record labels, what projects that we’re working on, if our contracts would allow us to do it, what material we have and so on.
LEGENDS: Who are some of your influences?
GLORIA: Early on I liked Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Barbra Streisand; I went on to like Marvin Gayle, Stevie Wonder and many others.
LEGENDS: What projects are you currently working on?
GLORIA: I am working on a jazz album and writing songs for a gospel album.
LEGENDS: What advice would you offer someone wanting to a career in show business?
GLORIA: I would tell that person 2 things; 1. Make sure that some one thinks that you have talent other than you and your momma. 2.) You have to love it, really love what you’re doing.
Gloria Gaynor will be inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame on Monday September 19, 2005 Legends congratulates and thanks her for the many years of wonderful music.
JUST THE FACTS:
“I Will Survive” has sold millions of copies throughout the world. It has the distinction of being the only song to be given a Grammy in the category of Best Disco Song (1980) and it has been named as VH1’s all time Dance Record of the 20th Century. Here are a few other facts:
Number of times it has been re-recorded since Gloria’s original 1979 release: 213.
Number of times it went to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top 100 charts: 2 times.
Number of times it was featured in films in the year 2000: 6 times.
Dance Music Hall of Fame 2005: www.dmhof.com/dmhofi2005
Disco Museum: www.discomuseum.com