Donna Summer's 'Journey'

Excerpted from the magazine for

The fall season may be here, but it appears that a return of Summer is just around the corner.

It all begins with a new greatest-hits collection, "The Journey: The Very Best of Donna Summer" (UTV/Mercury/UM), and the enduring artist's much-anticipated autobiography, "Ordinary Girl: The Journey" (Villard/Random House).

Summer could not be happier. "I am in such a good place right now," she says. "My life story, which I've been wanting to tell for a long, long time, is finally out there -- and it's accompanied by a 'soundtrack' of my musical journey."

"The Very Best of Donna Summer" spans 24 years and includes 18 classics, each digitally remastered. It features all 14 of her top-10 pop hits.

Additionally, the set features three new songs: the trance-laced "You're So Beautiful"; the No Doubt-hued "That's the Way"; and the bubbly "Dream-a-Lot's Theme (I Will Live for Love)," which is from "The Legend of Dreamway," a children's musical created by Summer.

The latter two were helmed by Giorgio Moroder, who produced the bulk of Summer's biggest hits (including the groundbreaking "I Feel Love").

These recordings mark the first time the artist and Moroder have collaborated since the 1992 European single, "Carry On." Released in the U.S. five years later, "Carry On" won the first Grammy Award for the then-new best dance recording category.

"We have had an ongoing [musical] relationship since day one," Summer says. "We have never lost touch, though we may not see each other as often as we'd like."

The Tony Moran/Nathan DiGesare-produced "You're So Beautiful" is included on the collection's bonus disc, which spotlights five remixes. Summer acknowledges she was angry that the track appeared on the Internet nearly two years ago without her consent -- especially since it wasn't finished. "It was out there, and we couldn't stop it. Of course, it has since been completed."

Released Sept. 30, "The Very Best of Donna Summer" is off to a promising start. The two-disc set entered The Billboard 200 at No. 111 in the Oct. 18 issue. In the same week, it debuted at No. 65 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

This marks the first time the artist has charted with a (non-live) greatest-hits collection since "Walk Away-Collector's Edition (The Best of 1977-1980)" in 1980.

Key Summer have been popping up in tracks in TV shows, commercials and films as of late. Capitol One has secured "Hot Stuff" for a national TV ad campaign, and the soundtrack to "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" includes "Last Dance." Such forthcoming films as "The Whole Ten Yards" and "Shrek 2" and the recently opened "Pieces of April" also feature Summer's recordings.

To promote her autobiography and "The Very Best," Summer is on a promotional tour that includes visits to "Good Morning America," "Entertainment Tonight," "The Sharon Osbourne Show" and "The 700 Club," among other programs.

Candid and inspirational, the satisfying "Ordinary Girl: The Journey" is poised to appeal to disco and pop enthusiasts, born-again Christians, African-Americans and the gay community.

But those expecting a "tell-all" may be disappointed, Summer says. "It's a documentation of things that happened in my life. My ups and downs, my triumphs and tragedies, my spiritual awakening."

The reversible book cover, too, displays two sides of Summer. One cover shows the artist as she is today, while the other is a still from her "Bad Girls" era.

Now that the book is completed, Summer hopes to have her much-discussed musical, "Ordinary Girl," up and running soon.

"It has certainly been a journey," she says. "And while there were times when I felt lost and isolated -- and thought that people wouldn't like me if they knew the real me -- I always knew that, deep down, I was this ordinary girl."

Excerpted from the Oct. 25, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Premium Services section.

To order a single copy of the issue, visit The Billboard Store.