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Ordinary Girl: The Journey Hardcover – October 7, 2003

3.8 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Ordinary Girl is legendary singer-songwriter Donna Summer?s delightfully candid memoir about her journey from singing in a Boston church to her unexpected reign as the Queen of Disco?and the tragedy and spiritual rebirth that followed.

Donna Summer was born on New Year?s Eve in Boston. Her childhood was filled with music. Inspired by Mahalia Jackson, she began singing in church choirs at the age of ten. A few years later she joined a Boston rock group, and by the end of the 1960s she was living the life of an artist in New York City?s Greenwich Village.

Soon after, Donna left the United States to join the German cast of Hair. She was still in her teens, a shy, ordinary girl who was suddenly feeling the jolt of the sexual revolution. She lived in Germany for seven and a half years, modeling, acting, falling in love, getting married, and giving birth to a daughter. She met a producer named Giorgio Moroder, and together they created a song called ?Love to Love You Baby.? It became one of the world?s premier disco hits.

Donna Summer returned to America as a star, a ?sex goddess? who bore little resemblance to her own sense of who she was. She describes what that personal transformation felt like from the white-hot center of the disco era, and how, over the next two decades, it contributed to a sometimes harrowing spiritual journey.

With heart and humor, Donna Summer relives the decadent days of disco and shows how she transcended them. This is the inspiring tale of an ?ordinary girl? on an extraordinary journey.

About the Author

Donna Summer is an internationally known singer-songwriter whose music has earned five Grammy Awards, three consecutive number one platinum albums (she is the only artist, male or female, ever to have accomplished this), eleven gold albums, four number one singles, two platinum singles, and twelve gold singles. Considered the voice that ignited the disco generation, she has been an enormously popular and enduring performer and recording artist for more than a quarter of a century. Her website is www.drivenbythemusic.com.

Marc Eliot is the New York Times bestselling author or coauthor of several biographies and books about popular culture, including Down Thunder Road: The Making of Bruce Springsteen, Barry White’s Love Unlimited, and Erin Brockovich’s Take It from Me. He divides his time between New York and Los Angeles.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; 1 edition (October 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400060311
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400060313
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #570,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
With the recent passing of Whitney Houston, this book came to mind. While we're all asking ourselves how in the world could such a gifted and successful artist like Whitney succumb to the drugs and seemingly non-nrealities of fame, this is a book of a certified superstar who was able to extract herself from the spiral of meaningless attention and find peace and joy in normalcy. It's a great read with this frame of mind.

Take this simple excerpt from the book and you'll begin to see what I mean, "The public life of a singer who is on the charts, as I was at the time, becomes all-consuming and eventually takes everything out of you. If you're not extremely careful, if you don't keep a tight inventory on your own self-worth, you will wind up in some very strange places mentally and physically. That's why so many people in music take drugs or drink. It's their only way to cope, and it either kills them or forces them to look at the reality of their lives. The only way to survive the fame is get control of your perspective on reality, and to do that you have to have a fairly strong frame of reference to the real world. Often it is extremely difficult to know who you ca trust."

To everyone who is trying to come to terms with Whitney's death, or the deaths of other stars such as Michael Jackson or Kurt Cobain, I highly recommend this book. It's not a preachy self-help, but that's sort of the whole point. It's a basic story of someone who was at the top, yet chose to step down to live a real life.

Kudos to Donna Summer. Not only did she save her own life by choosing normalcy, she also preserved her own God-given gift, and still continues to share it with her fans many years later. She's always been my favorite diva, but not because she is a "Bad Girl." It's simply because she's extraordinarily gifted, yet ordinary at heart.
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Format: Hardcover
For people who are even nominally familiar with her name, Donna Summer is the Queen of Disco. Critically acclaimed as the only true artist from that musical genre, she left behind the many one-hit wonders and continued a career for the next couple of decades.
So how disappointing is this book that is a highly personal look at her faith but says little about her music. The first couple of chapters are interesting, outlining her family background and her almost hippie past in German stage productions like HAIR, but she gives her biggest collaborator, Giorgio Moroder a light dust-over. This is the man who produced and co-wrote many of her biggest hits. This is also the guy who said that in disco, the producer is the absolute dictator! Surely there are stories to be told about working with him and Pete Bellotte for so many years. Surely there were stories when she split with Moroder to work with other producers.
It becomes very clear that Summer has avoided dissing the living. She spends some interesting chapters looking at her love/hate relationship with Casablanca Records president, Neil Bogart, but he's dead. Meanwhile, she carefully and diplomatically mentions David Geffen but she glances over her well-documented turbulent years with Geffen Records. That omission is testament to Geffen's continued clout. (Summer fans may recall her thank-you notes in CATS WITHOUT CLAWS which thanked Geffen for 'staying out of the kitchen this time'.)
Like other reviewers have noted, she also barely mentions the urban legend that she became homophobic when she became a Born-Again Christian. True or false?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished reading "Ordinary Girl, The Journey." On a personal note: It took me nearly two years to even acknowledge that Donna Summer had passed on because I had no idea she was ill, her death hit me kind of hard. It is also the reason I never bought her book until now, I thought I would wait a few more years, perhaps until she wrote even more books then I would collect them all. I adored Donna, I actually wished I could have been her, career woman, with loving husband and kids. More importantly, her voice sang me through a painful adolescence, but thankfully, hers was a voice I could emulate. Singing Donna Summer songs around the house and Karen Carpenter songs and Roberta Flack songs was very comforting for me back then.

On the book itself: it was an easy and very comfortable read that took me less than two days to complete which for a Dyslexic is a miracle. It was not as detailed as I would have liked, especially concerning her relationship with Neil Bogart and her foray into the Disco era, my teen years. But, I have come to realize one thing, people who write memoirs express their lives as they choose, and as readers we accept it or not. I, therefore, chose to accept what Donna had to offer in her memoirs, her beginning life, her many loves, her "close calls" and eventually her one true love, her husband Bruce Sudano, an accomplished producer/songwriter/musician whom I remember from the tight bell-bottom pant wearing, head-bobbing disco era and the talented-as-hell band, Brooklyn Dreams. I think I remember seeing B.D. on American Bandstand with Donna as host back in the day. (thank goodness for internet videos!)

I liked this book because it showed me a little of what I needed to know about Donna.
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