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Singer Donna Summer dies, aged 63

Tributes have been paid to disco star Donna Summer, who has died aged 63.

It is believed the American singer, best known for hits including I Feel Love and Love To Love You Baby, had been fighting cancer.

A family statement said: "Early this morning, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith. While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy. Words truly can't express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time."

Summer's publicist Brian Edwards said the family wanted donations to be made in her honour to the Salvation Army in lieu of flowers.

Summer, who was born LaDonna Gaines in Boston, learned to sing in church before fronting a series of bands and appearing in musicals. Working as a session singer brought her into contact with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte and together they established her as one of the biggest acts of the 1970s.

The extended 16-minute version of Love To Love You Baby was a huge hit in the clubs, but was banned from several radio stations because of her suggestive vocal style. The 1976 hit made her a star and she found even greater success in 1977 with I Feel Love, which again featured the hypnotic electronic disco beats of the pioneering Moroder.

Producer Quincy Jones paid tribute on Twitter, writing: "Rest in Peace dear Donna Summer. Your voice was the heartbeat and soundtrack of a decade." Kylie Minogue described her as "one of my earliest musical inspirations".

Record producer Pete Waterman, who worked with Summer in the 1980s, said his abiding memory was of "a lovely person". He said: "Whenever you were with her she made you feel so special. She had all the talent but she gave you all the credit. She was not a diva in any shape or form."

The singer teamed up with Stock Aitken Waterman in the late 1980s when she had alienated many fans with alleged anti-gay remarks. Waterman said: "She was in the wilderness when we had the biggest record of our careers together.

"They warned us against working with her because of the whole anti-gay thing that had happened. But what a voice she had. She used to warm up in the ladies toilet and everyone in our building would stop and it would come to a standstill to hear her warm up."

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