Gloria Gaynor has received the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr Award. The award, which acknowledges those who have gone above and beyond to inspiring others, was received by Gaynor in her home church in New Jersey. Just as Martin Luther King’s message lives on today as a symbol of solidarity, hope and perseverance, Gloria Gaynor’s tracks continue to channel the spirit of freedom and breaks down the shackles of oppression through her music.
The award commemorates those who continue to make outstanding contributions to Martin Luther King’s peaceful and prominent approach to challenging social issues, particularly regarding racial, economic, and social injustice. No songs typifies this more than Gloria Gaynor’s stone cold classic ‘I Will Survive’. On surface level, ‘I Will Survive’ contains a self-assured message from the point of view of a woman dealing with an emotional break-up. But it would go on to take deeper meaning. In 1978, the Gay Liberation movement was building momentum in East-Coast American nightclubs, with the lyrics being seen as “declaration of hard-won pride (“I used to cry / But now I hold my head up high”) and independence from the hetero norm (“I’m not that chained-up little person still in love with you”).”
The Martin Luther King Jr award is testament to her standing as one of the most influential female singers in history. ‘I Will Survive’ not only cemented her place in disco stardom, but also remains a timeless classic of empowerment. On its initial release on to vinyl, the chart-topping track was only pressed on the B-Side. However, DJ’s across the world would instead flip the record over from the A-side, which was originally dubbed the more commercially appealing of the 2 tracks. As Boston Disco Radio DJ Jack King,remarked “I couldn’t believe they were burying this monster hit on the B-side”. The track would of course go on to reach Number 1 on the US Billboard chart back in 1978.
Today, the track continues to embody solidarity and independence and inspired millions across the world, both in its message of female solidarity and it’s standing as a Gay anthem, with Time Out New York voting it the Number 1 Gay Anthem of all time. Her rendition of the definitive track today never fails to stir the soul, as viewers of the NTA’s in January will testify. Gloria Gaynor booking agent MN2S recently oversaw her critically acclaimed UK dates, with Gaynor’s vocals lighting up the UK from London to Glasgow. Despite the fact the track was released nearly 40 years ago, its message prevails as strikingly as it did back when it was first released. Gloria Gaynor has most definitely ‘still got it’; as you can see in her scintillating performance below:
Gloria Gaynor at the NTA’s, 2016
Gloria Gaynor’s Grammy winning music and performances have most definitely survived the last few decades, and seeing her live performances through booking agency MN2S today are undoubtedly a must see for any lover of music. Her back catalogue of disco classics such as ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ (which reached Hot 100 number 9 in 1974), ‘Let Me Know (I Have a Right)’ from 1980 and ‘I Am What I Am’ contain an eternal quality of being able to make you dance whilst still continuing to convey her striking message of self-determination.