Gloria Fowles, more famously known as Gloria Gaynor, was born in Newark on September 7, 1949. Though she grew up in a relatively poor household, she has mostly positive memories of her adolescence; many of which came at the hands of music. Gaynor was engulfed in music from a young age; well before she became a disco era household name.
Her family introduced her to acts like Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughan while she was still a child. Her father played ukulele and regularly sang in nightclubs; Meanwhile, Gaynor’s brothers sang gospel and even founded a quartet. Despite showing interest, Gloria Gaynor wasn’t allowed the opportunity to sing until the 1960s.
During the early 1960s, Gaynor sang with the jazz/R&B musical group the Soul Satisfiers. In 1966, she recorded her first solo single, “She’ll Be Sorry/Let Me Go Baby” for the Jocida label; this was the first time she presented herself as Gloria Gaynor. However, it would be another nine years before she saw success in the grueling music industry.
Notable record producer Clive Davis discovered Gaynor and signed her to the distinguished Columbia records in 1975. Her debut album, Never Can Say Goodbye, released that same year and eventually certified gold. The first side of the record had no gaps in between songs; it provided nearly 20 minutes of nonstop dance music. This made Gaynor a hit at countless popular dance clubs. This album was also the record that introduced disco to the general public. The album’s title track was the first ever song to top Billboard magazine’s dance chart.
Her debut album proved so popular, she immediately released her sophomore effort, Experience Gloria Gaynor, the same year. Her second album was just as successful, with several songs reaching the Top 5 on Billboard’s disco charts; she also held positions on the Hot 100 and R&B charts.
Gloria Gaynor Becomes a Disco Era Sensation
Gloria Gaynor found moderate success over the next few years. However, in 1978, she recorded what would become a timeless disco hit. When she released the studio album Love Tracks, it included a hit single and her most popular song to date; a breakup song, “I Will Survive” continues to be an anthem for women experiencing a rocky end to a relationship. Surprisingly, “I Will Survive” was the B-side to “Substitute,” a song considered to be more radio friendly. A radio disc jockey from Boston, Massachusetts discovered the former; this DJ pushed for the song to attain the attention it deserved. Thanks to his efforts, “I Will Survive” received and continues to receive a number of musical accolades; Rolling Stones named it among the Top 500 Songs of All Time.
Following the release of Love Tracks, Gloria Gaynor recorded 13 more studio albums; but none of them received the same recognition that 1978 album did. Both Gaynor and her most popular song were inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in September 2005, .
Gloria Gaynor continues to perform and inspire audiences and young musicians around the globe. She is a highly regarded face in the world of music thanks to her timeless hit and moving voice.