Gloria Gaynor has a voice that no one can forget. It only takes the intro on the piano of “I Will Survive” to bring an audience of a certain age, and much younger, to singing every word of the rousing anthem of overcoming. Her mother taught her that she had a beautiful voice, but sometimes, it takes the right song to transform an artist’s life.

Gloria Gaynor knew the divine power of her defining anthem from the time she read the words. Her first job was to make sure that “I Will Survive” didn't die a slow and silent death as a B-side.

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She became her own publicity machine to get the song played, and for 40 years, she has kept on singing the song at every show.

Gloria Gaynor has always known the source of strength within her gift of song. For the first time, she is sharing her depth of faith on a new gospel album, “Testimony.” She sang and sat down with Al Roker of “Today” on June 11, and revealed that she may add a culinary kind of stage to her future soon.

Finding purpose

I Will Survive” indelibly signified Gloria Gaynor as the “Queen of Dance” in the disco era, but even before the song was released, it signified the determination of the daughter from Newark, New Jersey, Gaynor was one of seven children raised by her single mom “on $.25” she shares with only admiration.

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Polydor Records initially had the mega-hit placed as the B-side of the singer’s single, “Substitute” which was an adequate song, but nothing compared to the true testimony that Gloria Gaynor could imbue through her performance. She wanted to read and feel the lyrics, so the writers (Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris) wrote the words on a paper bag.

The moment she soaked in the meaning of those penned words, she knew that they conveyed her purpose—“to bring hope, to bring encouragement, to bring empowerment, [and] inspiration to people.”

No matter how powerful a song is, it has no power until people can hear it.

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Gloria Gaynor understood another personal lesson in survival, having just recovered from a devastating stage fall that left her almost paralyzed. She hustled with her own hands-on marketing, taking a case of her single to a DJ friend at Studio 54. She asked him to play “I Will Survive,” and the fire of inspiration hasn’t been quenched yet.

Higher Truth

The song that is a fixture in every dance club, and still Gaynor's favorite song to sing, has earned status in the Library of Congress National Recording Registry, with criteria of being “culturally, historically, and artistically significant.” The enduring legacy means all the more to the singer that never had her father's presence or approval, and still gets tears at the memory of her mother recognizing her vocal gift.

The “Never Can Say Goodbye” singer will never leave out the fan favorites from her set list, but she adamantly affirms that, on “Testimony,” her loyal listeners will learn the “how” behind her years of survival, from molestation as a child to the decision to leave her husband. She hopes the journey through the album will prove “how anyone can survive,” and how “the love, the grace, the mercy, and the blessing” evidenced in her life can be experienced by anyone.

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“You can be at peace-- and that is the biggest thing,” Gaynor assures.

It seems the divas of the music world have much in common. In only a few months, consumers will be rushing to supply their holiday tables with Patti LaBelle’s pies and peach cobbler. Gloria Gaynor is taking a cue from her soul sister.

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One of the fond dreams that Gaynor looks forward to fulfilling is to have her own cooking show. Her trademark dish is “Chicken a la Gaynor,” and Al Roker offered an open invitation on the “Todaykitchen. “Let's sell this show,” he exuberantly proclaimed. Dreams are still being born for the 69-year-old singer-songwriter.

Gloria Gaynor has learned the lessons of preparing food for the soul and for the body.

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