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Does Disco Legend Donna Summer Deserve A Monument Here In Her Hometown?

Donna Summer performing as a special guest during the finale of "American Idol" in 2008. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)

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“Let’s Build a Donna Summer Statue in Boston,” the Facebook page announced when it was launched May 22.

“It’s just classic dance music,” David Wedge says of the late, Boston-raised disco queen. “She’s from right here and she’s one of the most successful female artists in any genre of all time. And I think people overlook that stuff.”

Wedge, a DJ, journalist and political strategist, and David Day, artistic director and co-founder of the Together festival, an “annual celebration” of electronic dance music, art and technology in Boston, dreamed up the proposal to erect a monument to the sultry singer after watching Mayor Marty Walsh launch the fifth-annual fest earlier this month. Wedge says, “He went behind the turntables, put on the headphones and put on a Donna Summer record.”

“At that kickoff,” Wedge adds, “we were both like this is a no-brainer. There’s no reason someone of this stature shouldn’t be recognized.”

When Summer died from lung cancer at age 63 in 2012, Rolling Stone called her “disco’s greatest diva—and defining voice of the era.” She scored some of the biggest, most luscious music hits of the 1970s and ‘80s, including “Love to Love You Baby” (complete with fake orgasm), “I Feel Love,” “MacArthur Park,” “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls.” She racked up five Grammys along the way. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame finally got around to inducting her the year after her death.

“She just exuded passion and lust and love. But it wasn’t cheap. It was very organic,” Wedge says. “Any memorial we make has to reflect that part of her.”

Summer was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines and grew up in Boston, singing at Grant AME Church in the South End. After studies at Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester, she moved to New York and then Europe, where she married a German by the name of Helmut Sommer. At the time of her death, she was living in Florida and Nashville, where she was buried.

The monument proposal is just getting off the ground, so considerations of possible locations, designs and funding have barely begun. But after not quite a week, that Facebook page has tallied more than 600 likes. And Wedge says he spoke with Walsh about the idea last week and the mayor is supportive. They also hope to get Summer’s family on board. (Watch her daughter Amanda Sudano’s April performance for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts with her band Johnnyswim. They play The Sinclair in Cambridge on June 24.)

“We’re people that get things done,” Wedge says. “We just think it’s a great thing for the city. I don’t care if it takes 10 years.”

Greg Cook is co-founder of WBUR’s ARTery. Check out whatever he’s going on about today on Twitter @AestheticResear and Facebook.

Comments

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  • dayvidday

    Um, yes!!11111

  • Lawrence

    No, not at all. She exhibited hatred to those who made her famous.

  • Michael “Mickey” Sullivan

    YES YES YES!

  • Michael “Mickey” Sullivan

    Yes she does…without a doubt!

  • leecappella

    That would be nice, coming from her hometown.

  • J Place

    How about some REAL outdoor public ART for Boston?
    Sculptures that CELEBRATES LIFE!,…not more of these boring life-size “memorial” sculptures of dead people. Every “famous for 15-minutes” Bostonite does not deserve a life-size likeness of themselves in a public space.
    (Let’s stop looking backward,…and besides the last few public sculptures of local politicians, and athletes have been public art with a lower case “a”, That is hardly ART.)

  • SWS

    Donna Summer helped change the course of music history, and her influence is still felt today. She was very well respected in the industry as a singer and song writer. With a string of #1 hits, top 10 hits, and several of her songs that are “classics” she was a music legend and icon. She was born and raised in Boston. There are five Bad Boys from Boston, but only one Bad Girl. Donna summer absolutely deserves a statue as a tribute. Not only was she an incomparable artist she was also an wonderful human being- kind, compassionate, caring, loving; and a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. Whether or not a statue is built in her image, she will never be forgotten.

  • fun bobby

    i know a lamp post that would be perfect

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Welcome to the ARTery. The ARTery offers the best of Art news, reviews and features in sounds, words, sights, stages, screens and experiences in and of Boston. The ARTery, presented by WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station, is powered by critic-at-large Ed Siegel and reporter and critic Greg Cook.

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