Gloria Gaynor (born September 7, 1947) is an American singer, best known for the disco era hits "I Will Survive" (Hot 100 number 1, 1979), "Never Can Say Goodbye" (Hot 100 number 9, 1974), "Let Me Know (I Have a Right)" (Hot 100 number 42, 1980) and "I Am What I Am" (R&B number 82, 1983).
Gloria Fowles was born in 1947 in Newark, New Jersey, to Daniel Fowles and Queenie Mae Proctor. Her grandmother lived nearby and was involved in her upbringing. "There was always music in our house", Gaynor wrote in her autobiography, I Will Survive.
Gaynor was a singer with the Soul Satisfiers, a jazz/R&B music band, in the 1960s. She recorded "She'll Be Sorry/Let Me Go Baby" (for the first time as Gloria Gaynor) in 1965, for Johnny Nash's Jocida label. Her first real success came in 1975 when she was signed to Columbia Records by Clive Davis. The fruit of that was the release of the flop single "Honey Bee." Moving on to MGM Records she finally hit with the album Never Can Say Goodbye on MGM. The first side of the album consisted of three songs ("Honey Bee", "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "Reach Out, I'll Be There") with no break between the songs. This 19-minute dance marathon proved to be enormously popular, especially at dance clubs. All three songs were released as singles via radio edits and all of them became hits. The album was instrumental in introducing disco music to the public, "Never Can Say Goodbye" becoming the first song to top Billboard magazine's dance chart. It was also a hit on the mainstream Pop Charts, peaking at #9, and on the R&B Charts, reaching #34 (the original version by The Jackson 5 had been a #2 hit on the Hot 100 in 1971). It also marked her first significant chart success internationally, making it into the Top 5 in Australia, Canada, Germany and the UK. The song would go on to be certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry, and subsequently gold in the US. Capitalizing on the success of her first album, she quickly released her second album, Experience Gloria Gaynor, later that same year. Some of her lesser-known singles, due to lack of recurrent airplay — including "Honey Bee" (1974), "Casanova Brown" (1975), and "Let's Make A Deal" (1976), as well as her cover of The Four Tops' "Reach Out, I'll Be There" (which also became a #14 hit on the UK Singles Chart) — became hits in the clubs and reached the Top 5 on Billboard's disco charts. Many charted on the Hot 100 and R&B charts as well, with songs like "(If You Want It) Do It Yourself" - a #1 disco hit - peaking at #98 on the Pop Charts and #24 on the R&B Charts. Her cover of "How High The Moon" topped the US Dance Charts, and made the lower parts of both the Pop and R&B charts, as well as achieving some international chart success. After her 1976 album, I've Got You, she shifted from her hit production team, to work with other productions.
in late 1978, with the release of her album Love Tracks, she climbed the pop charts again with her smash hit single "I Will Survive". The lyrics of this song are written from the point of view of a woman, recently dumped, telling her former lover that she can cope without the person and does not want anything more to do with the person. The song has become something of an anthem of female emancipation. Interestingly, the song "I Will Survive" was originally the B-side when Polydor Records released it in late 1978. The A-side, a song called "Substitute", then a recent worldwide hit for South African girl-group Clout, was considered more "radio friendly". Boston Disco Radio DJ Jack King, turned the record over and recalls being stunned by what he heard. "I couldn't believe they were burying this monster hit on the B-side", says DJ King. "I played it and played it and my listeners went nuts!" This massive audience response forced the record company to flip the songs, so that subsequent copies of the single listed the more popular song on the A-side.
Gaynor would achieve her final success in the 1980s with the release of her album I Am Gloria Gaynor in 1984. This was mainly due to the song "I Am What I Am", which became a hit at dance clubs, and then on the Club Play chart in late 1983/early 1984. "I Am What I Am" became a gay anthem and made Gaynor a gay icon. Her 1986 album, The Power of Gloria Gaynor, was almost entirely composed of cover versions of other songs that were popular at the time.
In 1987 she recorded a song, Be Soft With Me Tonight with Stock Aitken Waterman that peaked at #80 in the charts. It was re-released 2 in 1992.
Forty years after its release, Gaynor continues to ride the success of "I Will Survive", touring the country and the world over and performing her signature song on dozens of TV shows.