Disco
Disco is dance music containing loads of funk and a lot of soul mixed with a driving syncopated bass line. Believe it or not, we go back to Africa to find the beginnings of disco. A musician from Cameroon is said to have been the first to play disco music.  Manu Dibango took the Cameroonian word meaning dance and made it into a new dance craze with the song Soul Makossa.  Behind him Donna Summers became the first well-known female disco artist and played a part in pioneering the electronic sound that later became disco.  Disco helped to pay many bills for Gloria Gaynor, Chic, Chic Shalimar, B T Express and a gay performer named Sylvester.

 

Manu Dibango is a Cameroonian saxophonist and vibraphone player. He developed a musical style fusing jazz, funk and traditional Cameroonian music. He is a member of the Yabassi ethnic group, though his mother was a Duala. He is best remembered for his afrobeat single "Soul Makossa", often considered the first disco record.

 

Donna Summer was the Queen of Disco in the 1970s with a sound that was a hybrid of American soul and European synthesizer based music. In Germany, she hooked up with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte and delivered the orgasmic "Love to Love You Baby" which brought her worldwide fame. She was the first female artist to garner back-to-back multi-platinum double albums and the first female artist to incorporate synthesizers, as well as the first artist to create an extended play song. In 1978 she appeared in "Thank God It's Friday, "for which the song "Last Dance" won a Best Song Oscar. Her career its zenith in 1980 with the release of the critically-acclaimed record, "The Wanderer."

 

Gloria Gaynor had her first real success in 1975 with the release of her album Never Can Say Goodbye, which established her as a disco artist. This album was so instrumental in introducing disco music to the public, that many later believed that Gloria Gaynor had been the first artist to record disco music. “Never Can Say Goodbye” became the first song to top Billboard magazine’s dance chart. So, in that sense, she was the first.  in late 1978, she climbed the pop charts again with "I Will Survive". The song has become something of an anthem of female emancipation, and is still a staple of office parties and karaoke nights. The song was awarded the  Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording in 1980.

 

Village People are as well known for their on-stage costumes as for their catchy tunes and suggestive lyrics.Originally created to target disco's primarily gay fan base by featuring stereotypical gay fantasy personas, the band's popularity quickly brought them into mainstream. Village People scored a number of disco and dance hits, including their trademark "Macho Man", "Go West", "In the Navy", "Can't Stop the Music", and their biggest hit, "Y.M.C.A.".

 

Chic was formed in 1976 by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards. It is best-known for its commercially successful disco songs, including "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" (1977), "Everybody Dance," "Le Freak," "I Want Your Love," "Good Times" and "My Forbidden Lover."  Chic has recently been nominated for possible 2009 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

 

Shalamar was a dance trio, masterminded by Soul Train TV producer Don Cornelius with vocalists Jody Watley, Jeffrey Daniel, and Howard Hewett. Their first hit was the 1977 Motown-inspired production "Uptown Festival."  The group scored a million seller with "Second Time Around."  They had a string of hits with songs such as "Take That To The Bank." "I Owe You One," "I Can Make You Feel Good" and "A Night to Remember."

 

B.T. Express (originally named Brooklyn Trucking Express) was a funk/disco group that had a number of successful songs during the 1970s.The first record they released was their #2 hit "Do It ('Til You're Satisfied)," as well as its follow-up, "Express," which stayed in the Hot 100 for 16 weeks, and also reached #34 in the UK Singles Chart.

 

Sylvester, was a disco and soul singer, and a gay drag performer. He is considered to be one of the first Hi-NRG artists. Sylvester was sometimes known as the "Queen of Disco", although this moniker has also been bestowed on some of the ladies of the disco era (i.e. Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer).  His second solo album, Step II (1978), unleashed two disco classics: "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)," and "Dance (Disco Heat)". These two songs charted together on the dance chart and spent six weeks at #1 on this chart in August and September of 1978. By this time both his live shows and recordings also recognizably featured the back-up vocals of Two Tons O' Fun: future Weather Girls Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes.