Donna

Donna Summer died Thursday at the age of 63 after a battle with lung cancer. The singer will forever be remembered for her legendary disco songs that shaped a generation of music. Photo courtesy of Donna Summer official Facebook fan page.

Legendary disco singer Donna Summer died Thursday morning in Florida at the age of 63, her family said. The singer lost her battle with lung cancer, a struggle that she kept very much out of the public eye.

Early this morning, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith, reads a statement from the 63-year-old's family. 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.

Donna Summer's death came a shock to many. I mourn Donna Summer's death but celebrate her life. She shared her gifts with the world and left it enriched by her artistic genius, tweeted Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker.

Summer was born and raised in Boston. She grew up singing in the church before joining the production of Hair and moving to Germany. There, she met Giorgio Moroder and collaborated on the song Love to Love You Baby, a breathy 1975 tune that became one of the singer's biggest hits.

People didn't think I could sing, because I was whispering, she said. And it was a persona ... It was never something that I felt comfortable with. I struggled with it from the beginning ... but it's nothing I'm ashamed of, Summer told the Chicago Tribune. 

The overtly erotic tone of the song, with coos and moans, scared off radio programmers, but Love to Love You Baby quickly became a dancefloor hit of the disco era. 

Donna Summer went on to release hits like Last Dance, Bad Girls, Hot Stuff and Heaven Knows. Her songs helped to define the 1970s.

A succession of double albums, side-long suites and extended tracks created a new type of progressive music, created largely with keyboards, that expanded on some of the innovations of electro-pop and avant-garde artists such as Kraftwerk, the Chicago Tribune noted about Summer's legacy. 

In 2008, with the release of her album Crayons, Summer told Rolling Stone that she was truly proud of her long career.

I don't think they made fun of my music as much as they made fun of some of the music that maybe came as a result of that whole genre. But I do think in the course of time it is nice to reestablish something and to say, 'Okay, this stood the test of time...' I have nothing to prove to anyone. I just get out there and do my best, and those who love it, great. And those who don't, they'll move on to something else.

The five-time Grammy-winning artist was a true icon in the music community, blazing the trail for female artists who would eventually follow in her footsteps. Urban Daily published an article noting the five artists who would not be here if it hadn't been for Summer.

Part of that contribution is the artists she inspired directly or indirectly. In remembrance of the Queen of Disco, The Urban Daily is running down a list of five artists who took a cue from Donna Summer to create their own musical career, wrote Jonathan Hailey, assistant editor.

Urban Daily's list is Beyonce (who mentioned Donna Summer as an inspiration during the 2008 Grammy Awards), Aaliyah, Pink, Brandy and Christina Aguilera (whose powerful vocals against dance tracks echoes Summer's own specialty).

Donna Summer was married to Brooklyn Dreams band member Bruce Sudano. She is survived by her two children.

Here is a video compilation of Donna Summer's best songs over the years.