News of Disco Queen Donna Summer’s death on May 17 sparked many memories among generations of music fans — including those in ESSENCE’s offices. “Donna Summer’s voice was completely original — at once earthy and ethereal,” ESSENCE magazine’s executive editor, Vanessa Bush, recalled. “Her songs told a story — ‘MacArthur Park,’ ‘She Works Hard for the Money,’ ‘Enough Is Enough,’ ‘On the Radio,’ ‘Heaven Knows.’ I get choked up just thinking about them, about her. I believed every word she sang because her heart was in every line. Her music was my summer soundtrack.”

We asked ESSENCE readers on Facebook to share their own thoughts and memories. Here are a few of the most touching ones. 

“I remember being in grade 6 and my friends and I would dance to ‘She Works Hard for the Money’ and create dance moves… great memories. That song is one of my faves from her. RIP Donna.” —Cassy Barthelemy

“Another great entertainer has transitioned on… hers was part of my musical scrapbook of thrills, first times, and joys…. Her music has never not been a part of my library…” —Author GD Grace

“Her music brings nothing but great memories from my childhood in PERU, watching my mother and her brothers dancing to her music. RIP Miss Donna Summer.” — Sussy Rose

“Donna you were so private. Had no idea you were going through such pain and struggle. I pray that you are now free and happy. RIP and thanks for the memories.” — Tamarind Day

“My prayer is that Donna Summer’s music will continue to be celebrated as I do believe she is an Unsung Songstress yet she gave us some of the fiercest dance music of the 70’s disco age. I pray her talented and Beautiful daughter Brooklyn Sudano continues on to shine her mother’s precious light as she has done thus far. RIP Precious One… I will miss You!” — Teri Butts

“‘Last Dance’!! We jammed to that song all summer long in 1977!!” —Patricia Ellis

“Donna Summer for me made me realize that Black Women are beautiful when I was a child — I so wanted to be her because of her voice, grace and most of all her beauty. No one can be compared to this woman. She was the 70’s Beyoncé and she will be truly missed. Many prayers goes out to her loved ones — Donna Summer will forever be remembered in our hearts forever.” — Melissa Stazi Whitehead