Disco will never die…

August 30, 2014

A few weeks ago I got a call from a beloved New Orleanian, Anais St. John, a seductive, talented Jazz vocalist who I first heard singing at the Windsor Court bar (I remember a song about a dentist named Dr. Long John “drilling for cavities”). She was calling to tell me about a Donna Summer show she was doing during Labor Day Weekend in New Orleans. I wanted to ask “Donna who?” but didn’t dare. Don’t blame me. I was born in the late 70s and was raised in Europe. Coincidentally, when this call came in, I was in the car in Tennessee between Memphis and Nashville with a man from Kentucky driving. A man who loves Donna Summer and had just started playing a song of hers.

I took this as a sign from the Universe that I needed to attend that show. So I spent last night at Allways Theatre in the lower Marigny watching Anais become Donna Summer. The first thing I realized is that while I didn’t know the name, I knew the music of the “Queen of disco.” The second thing I realized is that my husband knows all the words to every Donna Summer song. And the third thing I realized is that the evening was quintessentially New Orleans. This was not Karaoke. I was listening to Donna Summer music played by a full band involving keyboards, bass, guitar, drums, percussion, saxophone, two vocalists, and two dancers. An analog version of electronic music performed in the digital age – performed perfectly.

Anais’ three costumes were perfectly disco. She started out in  long-sleeved gold lame deep v-neck dress and bright green eyeshadow. Switched to a sleevless black sequined dress cut even lower, and ended as is to be expected in tight black pants and a sparkling gold top (an outfit that at least a few women in the crowd were wearing).

Anais St John as Donna Summer

Anais St John as Donna Summer

Anais was the perfect impersonation of Donna Summer, and described herself as having much in common with LaDonna Adrian Gaines: “We are both chocolate; both tall; we both have big hair. We both married white men, have a background in musical theater, and a flair for the dramatic.” Indeed!

It was an amazing evening. If I could, I would go back tonight. Summer’s songs are still playing in my head, reminding me of a few key life truths:

  • Sometimes, enough is enough is enough.
  • Love to love the one you love.
  • When all else fails, just dance the night away.
  • Don’t ever stop listening to the radio.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover. Bad girls are sometimes good girls.
  • Treat everyone with kindness because everyone is working hard for their money.
  • And disco will never die…

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  • karen August 30, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    I know all the words to her songs too. She is an Icon!!!

  • Karrye Braxton August 30, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Donna Summers was always one of my faves as a child and even though I was too young to get into clubs where she played, her music still raves! Thanks for the memories! kyb

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