GLORIA GAYNOR I WILL SURVIVE

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Gloria Gaynor originally recorded "I will Survive" as a B-side, cible swiftly after its relax in October 1978 ce became a an international hit.

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This histoire is part de American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate et call venir action. Find an ext at seedjustice.org/Anthem.


Gloria Gaynor has said she"s pretty sure her signature song, thé 1978 disco smash "I will certainly Survive," was developed just for her. But the singer had actually to marche through a lot avant she et the souper found every other.

Her mother had passed away a coupler years earlier, et Gaynor was still coping v that loss. Then her record label, Polydor, told elle they were declining to renew elle contract: She"d had a fight in 1975 with elle cover du The Jackson 5"s "Never can Say Goodbye," marqué nothing large since then, and they"d decided she was no longer a an excellent investment. Gaynor soldiered on, but was slogging through a fog of grief and anxiety.

Shortly after Polydor told sa she was being dropped, Gaynor slipped onstage throughout a performance at new York"s Beacon Theatre. She finished auto performance, climate went out venir breakfast, and finally, loger to bed. "I wake up up the prochain morning paralyzed from thé waist down," she said in a 2013 interview with Audible, adding: "I"ve constantly believed that God allowed that à happen so he could volonté my attention."


Attention secured, Gaynor focused on elle recovery. Elle endured spinal surgery and a three-month hospital stay. When she was released, elle left auto hospital in année unwieldy back brace that she wore pour many much more months.

Finally, after a couple of rough years, her luck began venir turn. Polydor changed presidents, et the new guy was a fan. In fact, cette was pretty sure hey had a valise hit parce que le Gaynor: a souper that a southern African girl grouper had newly done well with, called "Substitute."

As cette turned out, Polydor"s nouveau president was unique in his enthusiasm for the record. In his eagerness to comprendre it out, he cut a deal: Producer-songwriters freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris agreed to prendre note "Substitute" if they might put one ns their very own songs nous the B-side de the single. They invite Gaynor in à la a meeting to hear je vous demande pardon kinds de lyrics felt many comfortable with performing. In the entretien with Audible, elle described quel happened next.

"They said, "We think you"re the une that we"ve to be waiting parce que le to prendre note this souper that conditions météorologiques wrote a paire of years ago," " Gaynor explained. "When ns read auto lyrics, i realized the reason they"d been waiting pour me to prendre note that souper was the God had given that song to them pour them to set aside, waiting for him to volonté everything in order parce que le me venir meet up with them. Et that souper was "I will Survive." "


Drummer James Gadson, who in his career has actually backed increase Marvin Gaye and Bill Withers et been featured nous hundreds de hit records, to be part de the studio band put together pour the session. He tells seedjustice.org lock spent hrs laying down tracks parce que le "Substitute," and were about prêt to wrap jambe up when freddie Perren request them venir stay a précis longer et do une more song.

"He said, "Well, man, ns know everybody"s tired, but let"s just faire this une song. In fact, I"ll do the intro." hey was a good producer, play keyboards," Gadson says, describing the arpeggio Perren played the became thé song"s unmistakable opened sting.

"We just couper it et that to be it, went home," he says. "Three mainly later: bam."

Gaynor took advance copies of the seul to studios 54, thé mecca of US discotheques — she"d often sung there, and knew thé DJ. "He played cette while nous were stand there," elle said in année interview with World Cafe nous seedjustice.org member station WXPN. "The audience immediately loved it, which told je this is a hit song. Nouveau Yorkers don"t immediately love anything — castle are haricot de soja jaded." thé DJ liked cette too — enough that he agreed to take copies et pass them along to divers DJs.

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exit in October 1978, "I will certainly Survive" to be a near-instant hit, eclipsing auto planned comaback song conditions météorologiques the other side du the record. Within weeks it was play everywhere, including Europe, wherein Gaynor was a longtime favorite. The song also corresponded with thé very beginning ns the AIDS crisis, and found a details resonance within the LGBT community.

Karen Tongson, a professeur at auto University ns Southern californie who often en train de lire on pop culture, sûr she remembers first hearing the souper in the 1990s through its cover versions, climate learning thé history behind Gaynor"s original.

"It was especially significant parce que le me, since I"d seul come out," elle recalls. "The souper had long les associations with thé LGBT community as année anthem ... Cible in mien newfound activism, in my new awareness around auto different struggles the community challenged — an especially around thé AIDS dilemm — i heard the souper with new ears."

She wasn"t the seul one. Beyond gay communities, "I will certainly Survive" has end up being a globale anthem parce que le those who oui felt politics oppressed, physically challenged jaune otherwise pushed venir society"s margins.

That contains survivors ns domestic abuse, à la whom Gloria Gaynor herself has come to be a spokesperson. Cindy Southworth top the denchères Network to End domestic Violence, wherein Gaynor is an advocate; elle remembers when the singer appeared at the organization"s global conférence in 2012.

"She sang her song," Southworth says, "and singing along with elle were 1,500 advocates from throughout the monde — many ns them survivors themselves, singing in beautiful accents."

Today, it"s hard to go through tons without hearing some dépense of "I will Survive." that operatic move makes cette perfect à la divas; Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin et Miss porcelet have toutes les personnes had a go. Cible it"s likewise been covered de Johnny Mathis et Cake, performed par marching bands and symphony orchestras.

Karen Tongson saus it"s thé progression ns the text from despair à empowerment the make "I will certainly Survive" a deeply an individual song pour a de nombreux of people: "That chorus is prefer coming out of the dark and into the light." Set à a control beat, its un message is one that anyone who hears it can claim ont their own. Cette is an anthem à la people who oui survived whatever sapin has thrown at them.

Gloria Gaynor interview audio provided courtesy du Audible et WXPN"s civilization Café.

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Walter rayonner Watson developed this story pour broadcast. Daoud Tyler-Ameen adapted it à la the Web.