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Donna Summer Dead at 63

Donna Summer
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Donna Summer died on Thursday, and though she may be best known as the Queen of Disco, the ‘Last Summer’ singer’s passing and an outpouring of support from country music artists proves the influence of an icon can transcend any genre.

“So sad to hear of Donna Summer passing,” Sara Evans tweeted Thursday after learning of her sudden death. “I absolutely love her music! Had her albums as a child and memorized them! She’ll be missed!” Billy Ray Cyrus also took to his official Twitter page to mourn Summer’s passing. “RIP #Donna Summer LEGEND !!! Your music will live forever,” tweeted the singer.

Even in the wake of what most would consider a tragic loss, Jimmy Wayne chose to keep things positive, focusing on the contributions Summers made in the music world. “Did you know that #DonnaSummer was the producer & conductor on ‘We are the World,’” Wayne posted, referring to the massively successful charity single.

Born LaDonna Gaines in Boston in 1948, Summer first charted with ‘Sally Go ‘Round the Roses’ in 1971 under the name Donna Gaines. The singer soon changed her stage name and overhauled her sound before scoring a No. 2 single on the Hot 100 chart  in 1975 with the overtly sexual, ‘Love to Love You Baby.’ Summer earned an additional 13 Top 10 singles spanning 14 years, including the No. 1 hits ‘MacArthur Park,’ ‘Hot Stuff,’ ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘No More Tears (Enough is Enough),’ a duet with Barbra Streisand.

Summer also had connections to country music — at least as a songwriter. The one-time Nashville resident penned the song ‘Starting Over Again’ with her husband, and the track later became a chart-topped for both Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire. According to the Boot, Summer was even a Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum board member.

A statement issued on behalf of her family reads, ”Early this morning, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith. While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.”

“Words truly can’t express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time,” writes her family.

Donna Summer died at the age of 63 after a battle with lung and breast cancer. She is survived by her husband Bruce Sudano, their daughters Brooklyn and Amanda, as well as her daughter Mimi from her previous marriage.

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