Lehman Center for the Performing Arts will be experiencing the ultimate dance party on Saturday, April 21 at 8:00 p.m., when singer Gloria Gaynor performs at the venue before a full orchestra. She will also be sharing the stage with the Hitmen and Colonel Abrams.
Part of the disco dance era, Gloria was born in Newark, NJ, and only 19 when she was signed to Columbia Records by Clive Davis. She recorded the single “Honey Bee” for Columbia Records in 1975. Later she recorded her hit song, “I Will Survive” in 1978.
Gloria has proven she has the stuff to survive in an industry that can be pretty tough sometimes. Little did she realize when she initially recorded “I Will Survive,” she would garner a Grammy, the song would become the greatest disco anthem of all time and be inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame. “I Will Survive” has sold over 14 million copies and has been translated into over 20 languages. Then she recorded the first disco record to be played on AM radio, her hit “Never Can Say Good-bye” for MGM. The album went gold. Hit albums “Experience Gloria Gaynor” and “I’ve Got You (Under My Skin)” followed.
I recorded “I Will Survive,” while wearing a back brace. While performing at the Beacon Theatre I fell backwards over a monitor while doing a skit with my background singers. I jumped up, finished the show, went out to breakfast, went home and went to bed and when I woke up, I was paralyzed from the waist down. I ended up getting surgery on my back. That was scary. The surgery was in March and I came out of the hospital in July. I then recorded “I Will Survive” in October, but I was wearing a back brace when I did” said the enduring singer.
“When I first read the lyrics to “I Will Survive,” I saw it as timeless lyrics. The song is now over 35 years old. It contains the type of lyrics that everyone can relate to. The song was about unrequited love. However, I saw it as something related to survival. I thought I would never survive my mother’s death, being in a back brace and getting surgery on my spine. Yet, I survived,” said Gloria.
She toured to Italy and Croatia as part of a Christmas symphony tour, returning to ring in the New Year with a concert in Las Vegas. Her upcoming gospel CD is entitled “He Gave Me Life (I Will Survive).” Later this year, Gloria plans to release a single entitled “All The Man That I Need.”
Gloria appeared in Smokey Joe’s Café on Broadway. She appeared on “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” “Donnie and Marie,” “The Wayan Brothers,” “The 70s Show” and “Ally McBeal” on television. “I am looking forward to going on “Who Do You Think You Are?” This show searches out your ancestry. I am trying to arrange my schedule around it so I can go on. I know I have Native American Blackfoot Indian and Jamaican ancestry, so I am really looking forward to the show to see what else may be in my origins,” said the singer who also wrote a book called “I Will Survive.”
Gloria holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and plans to eventually open a nurturing recreation center for teenage parents in her hometown of Newark, NJ. “I wanted to open up a nurturing recreation center to work with teenage parents and their families here in America. I want to partner with other learning organizations to help the children continue their education. I want them to learn to follow their passions so they can earn money while supporting themselves while being happy doing it,” explained Gaynor.
“I used to love to dance when younger and wore these three-inch heels while doing deep bends as part of a dance. Now I have knee problems and back problems and other things I have had to overcome. The song “I Will Survive” has been important as I have overcome challenges. I have survived the death of my four brothers, my mother’s death, a divorce, and illness, so I have survived and “I will survive,” claims the enduring performer who is quite the humanitarian.
Gaynor lends her support to numerous charities including the Susan G. Comen Breast Cancer Foundation (North Jersey Affiliate), the Hellenic Times Foundation, The Revlon Walk For Women and the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Ms. Gaynor is a member of the United Cerebral Palsy Hudson County Board of Directors. She financially supports Save the Children, sponsors four children through the Christian Children’s Fund, is a chair holder for the New Jersey Crime Victims’ Law Center, was 2008 Honorary Chair for the New York Diabetes Association and supports Denise Rich’s Angel Ball, a foundation for Melanoma research.
In addition to these charities, Gloria also supports Bailey House New York Restoration Project, WomensLaw.org, Miami Children’s Hospital and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
“God has been good to me and I believe I should share my blessings. Therefore, I sponsor four Ethiopian children, children who have lived in poverty due to the drought there. Americans could not survive some of the conditions others experience around the world. We are so lucky,” remarked the generous performer.