Gloria Fowles, best known as “Queen of Disco” Gloria Gaynor, was born on September 7, 1949. She was born in Newark, New Jersey, and her parents were Queenie May Proctor and Daniel Fowles. Her grandmother lived nearby and played a strong role in her upbringing. The house was open to family and friends even though there was not a lot of money.
Gaynor’s father Daniel played the ukulele and guitar and sang professionally in nightclubs, and there was always music playing in the house. Gaynor’s brothers sang gospel music with one of their friends, but Gaynor was not allowed to join the all male group.
Gaynor and her family did not take her singing seriously when she was young. She was a member of the chorus and glee club, and it was only after her first solo that her confidence began to grow. By the time she graduated high school, she knew that she wanted a career in singing.
She began singing with an unknown R&B company, the Soul Satisfiers, until signing with MGM Records after several additions. She produced several albums starting in 1975, and in 1976 released Never Can Say Goodbye. It was the first dance album geared primarily for dance club use. The tracks automatically flowed into each other, making it perfect for DJs and dance artists. Several songs from this album hit the top charts.
In the next few years she had moderate success, but in late 1978 her album Late Tracks was released. The song “I Will Survive” became a monster hit and became a “women’s anthem.” The song is from the perspective of a woman who has recently broken up with her former lover, and as she painfully pulls all of her strength together she knows she will get on without him. The song still remains popular in dance clubs and has been used in numerous movie sound tracks, dance, and disco compilations. The song won a Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording in 1980.
Her next few albums achieved moderate success, but the disco era had disappeared. In the mid-1990s there was a disco revival that brought Gaynor back into the spotlight. She even began a little acting and appeared on “The Wayans Brothers,” “That ’70s Show” and “Ally McBeal.” She has also appeared on “The Wendy Williams Show,” “The View” and “The Tonight Show.”
Gaynor continues to travel all over the world performing. She remains a practicing Christian, and her most recent project is a Christian album.