Gloria Gaynor Interview
("Queen of Disco")
In 1976, the International Association of Discotheque Disc Jockeys officially
crowned her the “Queen of Disco”.
In 1979, her recording of “I Will Survive” won a Grammy for
Best Disco Recording.
By now, you know who we’re talking about-----Miss Gloria Gaynor.
Last year Polydor Records released “I Will Survive: The Gloria Gaynor
Anthology” and Gloria penned her autobiography titled “I Will
Survive” ( St. Martin’s Press).
Gloria Gaynor has indeed survived and we’re proud to present an
interview with the “Queen of Disco”.
Q – You’re about to launch both a modeling
and acting career, is that correct?
A – Yeah.
Q – What’s the acting career going to
A – Oh well, what I’m doing now is about to go into a six
to eight week intensive with a theatrical coach so that I can prepare to
go out to LA for a TV pilot. So, I’m hoping to start there. Then,
if I’m good enough, if I’m liked enough, then move into motion
Q – You were in Top 40/Dance band early on in your career called
the “Soul Satisfiers”. Did you ever perform here in Syracuse?
A – Yeah, sure.
Q – Do you remember where?
A – No. (Laughs). I just know that I did, ‘cause I’ve
been through Syracuse a couple of times, and that would be my only reason
Q - You enjoy great popularity in Europe and the Middle East. Why do you
suppose that is?
A - I don't know, except that when I sing, I'm more interested in
trying to portray the emotion that the writer intended in writing the song.
I try to bring that out in my vocal experience, and my phrasing, and my
tonality, and I think that comes across no matter what the language is.
Q - You write, "One of my philosophies of life
is that you should never feel poor because you don't have what somebody
else has, or what somebody else thinks you should have."
A - Right.
Q - What then was the driving force for you to succeed in the world of
A -I think my only driving force in that was to do the best I could at
something, the talent, I believe God had given me. I think that was all
there was to it. When you do the best you can and put everything you have
into one particular talent, then the success is inevitable.
Q - Does it ever upset you to see a fuss made about a singer who really
A - No, because I feel like whatever the fuss is made about it, they're
offering something. Sometimes it's not necessarily a vocal. Sometimes it's
just charisma. Sometimes you're just a good show person. And sometimes it's
just God's favor.
Q - Do you remember that whole "Disco Sucks" movement
back in 1979?
A – Oh, yes. Sure.
Q - Why do you think so many people hated disco?
A - I tend to believe the whole movement was started by people who were
adversely affected by the popularity of disco in that they felt people were
moving from their music, dollars were being pulled away from their efforts
into the people who were producing and performing disco music. I think they
started that thing and people are sheep, and it just caught on. I think
it was something done on purpose.
Q - Do you think the fact that guys had to learn how to dance a certain
way and dress a certain way had something to do with it?
A - That could have very well been it. I can't imagine them becoming
that passionate about it, because of that, but, who knows?
Q - Your first hit was "Never Can Say Goodbye"?
A - Yeah.
Q - Didn't Michael Jackson also record that song?
A - Yes. He recorded it first.
Q - When you recorded "I Will Survive" did
you realize how good of a song it was?
A - When I heard the music to it, and realized it was such a melodic song,
such an easy song to sing, and also the kind of a song an artist can really
put herself into, and that kind of song an artist can really put herself
into, and that made me know even more it was going too be a hit. It was
going to be copied by everybody who even thought they could sing. So therefore,
it was gonna get even more exposure. Secondly, it’s kind of a song
lyrically that hits home. It becomes very, very personal. And when a song
is very personal to you and you can sing it, and all of the emotions it
brings out is positive, uplifting and encouraging, well, I mean you just
Q – Did anyone else record that song besides
A – Oh, yeah. That song has been recorded in probably 15 or 20 different
languages. I myself recorded it in Spanish. It was recorded by Gladys Knight,
Johnny Mathis, Shante Savage, another group called Cake, another group
out of college in Holland. It's been recorded any number of times.
Q - Do you ever get tired of singing it?
A - No. I never get tired of singing it, because the people never get
tired of hearing it. It's like when you know a really good joke, are you
gonna get tired of telling it? (Laughs).
Q - Drugs seem to be the downfall of so many talented singers and musicians.
What do drugs have to do with music anyway? I never understood the connection.
A - Drugs have nothing to do with music. Drugs are never the problem.
Drugs are always symptomatic of a problem. For me, drugs were truly not
a problem because I hated them. I only took enough drugs to be accepted
by the people who were taking them. I wanted to be a part of the crowd.
I didn't want to be left out. I had very low self esteem. I was very insecure.
So, they helped me to be accepted. These people seeing that I would indulge
in what they were indulging in, helped me, I felt, to be accepted by them
and helped me to be a part of the crowd, not to be left out, and not to
be alone. I had a fear of loneliness. And so, I never had a drug problem
although people always want to think that. You know, the minute an
artist says that they dabbled in drugs, suddenly you're a junkie. I never
had a drug problem. I had a problem with insecurity.
Q - You write in your book, "We were invited to wild parties
and we gave wild parties." What was so wild about these parties?
A - Probably this is all relative and to a lot of people it wouldn't be
considered wild at all, because their parties were what I would’ve
considered wilder. To me a wild party is a party where you did have alcohol.
You had some marijuana. You had some cocaine. You didn't have a bowl of
it. But, there was a little packet of it, they were passing around. There
was maybe a few dollars of marijuana. There was some champagne. To
me a wild party lasted past 3 or 4 a.m.
Q - What is life like for you these days? Do you have a routine down?
A - No. There's very little routine about my life, because I travel so
much and have to be ready to go on the spur of the moment. When I'm home
I try to get up every morning early enough to pray for a couple of
hours, and read the Bible. I try not to be too wiped out before I go to
bed so I can study a little bit, and plan my next day. That's the extent
of my routine. I also try to get in some exercise which I don't do very
Q - Don't you get a good workout running around the airports catching
A - No. It doesn't work at all. (Laughs). Your body doesn't pay any
attention to that. It just gets tired. You travel 15-16 hours to get someplace,
you don't feel like lifting weights and getting on a treadmill.
Q - How many days a year are you on the road?
A - Well, you know, it's difficult to say, but I'm rarely home for more
than two weeks at a time, and I'm rarely gone for more than two weeks at a
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