Gloria Gaynor (born Gloria Fowles, September 7, 1949, Newark, 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).
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.
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 commercial failure.
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 1998 album What a Life under the name The Answer as a follow up to her successful hit 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.
In July 2009, she appeared on The John Kerwin Show to promote the 30th anniversary of "I Will Survive."