SOON Online Magazine

Gloria Gaynor Interview

BEYOND SURVIVING

An interview by Thirza Schoots

If you're not sure who Gloria Gaynor is, you probably know her greatest hit song, "I Will Survive." Still a disco favourite, it earned her the title 'First Lady of Disco'.

But the Gloria Gaynor who sang this song to such admiration in 1979 is not the Gloria Gaynor that is singing it now. A lot has happened in those seventeen years.

She still looks the same. But what I notice more than anything else are her eyes. They sparkle - most of all they reflect a joy and happiness that go beyond understanding. "Do you know that I've changed the words to 'I Will Survive'? Yes, I had to call the writers and ask them if I could change the words. When I did, I was very pleased to learn that they'd become Christians too, since they first wrote it!"

You see, before she became a Christian, Gloria was convinced that she was one already. "Even as a very small child I used to talk to God."

How it happened

In 1978, Gloria fell from the stage one night and injured her spine. She was in hospital for months and started to read her Bible regularly. But she did not really pause to consider who Jesus was. As her public life seemed to get better, her private life went downhill. She and husband Linwood started going to wild parties, and got into marijuana and cocaine. She tried to get out of it, but knew she could not break with it on her own. She felt guilty and was ashamed to go to church, or even pray to the God she thought she had known since a child.

After three years going downward, she began to stay home more, and look into who Jesus really was. "The scripture that God used to save me was Isaiah 7.14, which today is still my favourite verse in the Bible. It says, 'For behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Emmanuel.' Emmanuel means 'God with us' and refers to Jesus!"

Slowly, Gloria was changed by her new faith. God miraculously took away her desire for alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana. She discovered a freedom that she could not have found by herself.

She stopped singing for a time. "My fans wondered where I was and what I was doing. Now that I've come back, I let them know why I'd dropped out, and that I'm back knowing that God wants me to bring a message to them. Whether they are ready to become Christians or not, they seem pleased to hear that God loves them and that He's waiting for them to make the right choice."

Gloria's new life and faith have meant that she has had to make sacrifices. But she says her greatest gain is that now she's able to make Christ real to other people.

In the new words of her favourite song:

"I will survive; He gave me life;
I stand beside the Crucified One;
I can go on; I will be strong;
For my strength to live is not my own;
I will survive!"

Interview by permission of THE EDGE magazine

For a more recent interview, see The Celebrity Cafe - Gloria Gaynor - Disco Diva

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