Donna Summer’s Song

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It’s a pleasure to have you stop by and see what’s going on at Doug’s Desk. The first comments from my desk are dear to me. It involves sorting out facts and opinions. I think you’ll find this interesting.

Occasionally we get comments about the song we play on, “She Works Hard For The Money” by Donna Summer. That song is about a prostitute! I’ve always heard that about this song! So why do you play it on a Christian station?

There is a clear reason why we play this song. When you look at the facts and compare it to what you think you know about this song, you will be very surprised with the results.

Mike and I not only share decades of experience as professional radio broadcasters, but we also share a common drive to seek out facts and question opinions for validity. Since we only play songs by artists who love Jesus, it really causes some head scratching why we play this song. Let’s take a closer look at this song and then let the facts speak for themselves.

“She Works Hard For The Money” is arguably the most misunderstood pop song ever played on the radio. By 1983 when this song was on the pop charts in the US, Europe, Australia and South Africa, Donna Summer, born LaDonna Adrian Gaines, had embraced her faith as a born again Christian. The five-time Grammy Award winning singer was moving forward and had left behind the image she received from her disco days in the 1970s. She was one of the founding members of Oasis Church in Los Angeles, CA.

The song “She Works Hard For The Money” is written by Donna Summer and contemporary Christian music pioneer Michael Omartian, who also produced the song. At that time, Michael Omartian was the go-to producer in the Christian music world with many Christian hits under his belt that he had either written or produced.

This song is about a waitress named Onetta that worked at a corner diner for 28 years. During that time many people who ate at the diner poured their hearts out to her. Onetta was only paid in tips at the diner. But to her it was worth it hearing how much they cared.

There you have it. This is what the song Donna and fellow Christian Michael Omartian wrote is about.

Here are the actual lyrics:

She works hard for the money
So hard for it honey
She works hard for the money
So you better treat her right (2x)

Onetta there in the corner stand
And wonders where she is
And it’s strange to her
Some people seem to have everything
Nine a.m. on the hour hand
And she’s waiting for the bell
And she’s looking real pretty
Just wait for her clientele

Repeat Chorus twice

Twenty eight years have come and gone
And she’s seen a lot of tears
Of the ones who come in
They really seem to need her there
It’s a sacrifice working day to day
For little money just tips for pay
But it’s worth it all
Just to hear them say that they care

Sometime in the near future we will have a page on our website dedicated to Donna Summer, specifically for the album by the same name, “She Works Hard For The Money”. There you can learn more about this misunderstood song, the duet she sang with Matthew Ward (of 2nd Chapter of Acts), see the Scripture references and mentions of Jesus on the album liner notes.

Unfortunately in 1983 Christian radio was nowhere near ready to play songs (by artists who are Christians) that were on mainstream radio. So they wouldn’t touch this song. Even her duet with Matthew Ward didn’t get the airplay it should have received on Christian radio even though it did on mainstream radio.

The next time you hear a fellow Christian speak badly about this song and question why we play it, please refer them to our website.




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