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Gloria Gaynor Biography

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Birth Name: Gloria Fowles
Born: 1949/09/07
Birth Place: Newark, New Jersey, United States
Years Active: 1965–present
Genres: Dance-pop, Disco, R&B

Gloria Gaynor (born September 7, 1949) is an American singer from Newark, New Jersey. Gaynor was born into a house full of music and grew up on Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughan records, while her father played the ukulele and guitar, and sang professionally in local nightclubs with the group Step 'n' Fetchit. Gaynor's brothers were also gospel singers and formed a quartet. Gaynor knew that she wanted to sing from an early age, but with a family of singers involved in their own careers, Gaynor's singing voice went unnoticed. By the time Gaynor had graduated high school she had already been singing in the school choir for years and was determine to make a career out of her voice.

Gaynor joined the Soul Satisfiers in the 1960s, a jazz/pop band. As Gloria Fowler she recorded “Will You Be My Guy / Train Of Love” for a small Chicago label, releasing a second single “She'll Be Sorry/Let Me Go Baby” as Gloria Gaynor in 1965.

Gaynor's first taste of success didn't arrive until 1975 with the release of her album “Never Can Say Goodbye.” 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. The album was instrumental in introducing disco music to the public, “Never Can Say Goodbye” becoming the first song to top Billboard magazine's Dance chart. Capitalizing on the success of her first album, 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. Gaynor's third album “I've Got You,” arrived in 1976.

In the next few years, 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.” Interestingly, the song "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. The massive audience response to "I Will Survive" forced the record company to flip the songs, so that subsequent copies of the single listed the more popular song on the A-side. 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.

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, having looked into a wide variety of faiths and religious movements, 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 recent conversion to Christianity.

Gaynor would achieve her final success in the 1980s 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 Billboard Club Play chart in late 1983 and 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 U.S. where there was not the same disco backlash. Her 1986 album, “The Power of Gloria Gaynor,” was almost entirely composed of cover versions of other songs that were popular at the time. The album was ignored, becoming a commercial failure.

The 1990s saw Gaynor try her hand at acting, guest starring on “The Wayans Bros,” “That '70s Show,” and “Ally McBeal.” In addition, Gaynor took a Broadway role in “Smokey Joe's Cafe.”

2002 saw Gaynor back in the studio again, with a new album, her first in 15 years, “I Wish You Love” emerging that year. The album produced the singles, “Just Keep Thinking About You” and “I Never Knew,” which impacted Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts.

In 2005, Gaynor was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame.