Ra SHAWN-DA-PROFESSOR

Ra SHAWN-DA-PROFESSOR

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

CLASSIC FLASHBACK: DONNA SUMMER'S WORKING WOMEN'S NATIONAL ANTHEM

DONNA SUMMER
SHE WORKS HARD FOR THE MONEY
1983 MERCURY/POLYGRAM RECORDS
# 1 R&B/# 3 Pop
SINGLE ORIGINALLY RELEASED MAY 20, 1983

Disco/Rock/Soul Legend and recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Donna Summer had recorded many classic songs, that made people dance, feel good, empowered and liberated, and her 1983 classic "She Works Hard For The Money" is one of her most famous songs that became a classic and became the national women's working anthem. The song also shed her previous sex-kitten image that her former record label boss had created for her and showed her as a powerful working and talented lady. This classic co-written by Summer and producer Michael Omartian was inspired while Donna was in the ladies room where she saw Onetta, a bathroom attendant sitting in a chair taking a nap with the television on. Summer took one look at her and said God she works hard for the money. Then she got so excited that she asked her manager to give her a pen and some paper so she ran into the women's stall, wrote the lyrics on toilet paper, contacted her producer at the time, and recorded the song the next day, and the rest is hestory. The classic has a great combination of Soul, Dance, Rock and Gospel courtesy of the horn section, keyboards, synsesizers guitar and saxophone solos and vocals by Summer and the background vocalists who sings the chorus with lots of soul and passion, but it's the lyrics that makes the song inspirational and powerful.

She works hard for the money
So hard for it honey
She works hard for the money
So you better treat her right.

Donna created a great empowering classic that many women still love and enjoy to this day. This song reminds people that women are human beings and they are capable of doing the same type of work as men, and they have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Whether she's a maid, a janitor, a cook, a teacher, a college professor, a repair lady, an executive, a landlord or a CEO, she works hard for the money and is entitled to respect.

FACTS AND INFO ABOUT THE SONG

Donna had went to a Grammy's after-party thrown by Latin singer Julio Iglesias, and had to use the ladies room. While she walking to the stall, she saw a tired bathroom attendant sitting in a chair taking a nap and Donna said "God she works hard for the money" A few seconds later, she got excited and ran Susan Munao, her manager at the time to tell her about her song idea and to get her some paper so she can write the concept and lyrics. Donna later returned to the ladies room, locked herself in the bathroom stall and wrote the lyrics to the song. She later called Michael Omartian, he producer at the time to inform him about the idea, and like Donna, he was excited as well. He was so excited, he went to the studio and wrote the track the next day.

The single was released on Mercury Records, the label that had purchased Casablanca Records, Donna's previous label. Donna had sued Casablanca's head Neil Bogart and his wife for fraud, under-influence, and was released. She had signed to Geffen Records, where she had recorded two albums. Shorty after Donna released her second album for Geffen, Neil had lost his battle with cancer, and Donna had learned that she had owed Polygram one album, so in change for an settlement, she decided to fulfill her contractual obligation. Especially since the staff at Geffen wasn't thrilled with her working with Omartian but they allowed her to fulfill her obligation especially since many didn't like the material recorded for the album. The song and album became a huge hit which had both labels in shock and having their heads spinning.

Onetta who was the inspiration for the song had a great paying job working at Cedars-Siani hospital in Los Angeles, but she was a single mother with a son in college, so she had taken the job to help pay his tuition. She was so grateful that she allowed herself to be photographed on the back of the album cover, and she became a celebrity herself. Fans would ask her for autographs, photographs, and tell her that she was an inspiration to them.

The song became the national working women's anthem. Talk-Show host/Actor Aresenio Hall told NBC that many Black women in Ohio used that song as their anthem.

This review is dedicated to all the working women around, to the family of Onetta, the inspiration for the song, and to the memory and legacy of Donna Summer, who worked hard for her money and success.

5 comments:

Donald Peebles said...

Excellent history on the creation of Donna's 1983 comeback hit "She Works Hard For The Money". I had no clue about the bathroom inspiration with Onetta. Thank you for including her contribution to the song. I cannot imagine Donna sitting on the toilet writing lyrics but then I can. If you are an artist, songwriter, writer, poet, author, cartoonist, or any other creative, then I can. I know Casablanca and Geffen Records felt STOOPID when the song became a hit and the working woman's anthem. Excellent work, Ra Shawn!

Rob Spiegel said...

Donna was and IS the truth! Bless you for keeping her legacy alive and commemorating the 30th anniversary of this barrier breaking song. After Michael Jackson, Donna and this song helped break down MTV's "color barrier" even more! Great job RaShawn! You are indeed the intelligent "professor" of many great things. Stay inspired and God Bless You!

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