The halcyon days of the disco era are set to light up everybody’s inner mirror ball when Friday Night Fever, a tribute concert featuring the New York Bee Gees and Donna Summer tribute singer Rainere Martin, comes Glenside.
When we last checked in with Martin, she was doing tribute shows and revues where she impersonated the disco and R&B icon on weekends and when vacation time allowed. Now she says there’s enough demand for her talents as a performer to keep her Donna Summer tribute act going full time.
“This is my life right now,” Martin said. “I’m doing this 24/7. I was working a full-time job when I first started doing Donna and I got laid off last year. For being at a job for 10 years, I thought, Oh my God, what am I going to do? But I looked at it like God gave me a second chance to go after my dream. It was unfortunate that I lost my job but I had this avenue here because the bookings were adding up.”
Martin said she caught a break at age 42 getting hired to work with Legends in Concert and “it took off from there.” She has opened for Tavares, The Whispers, The Trammps and The Stylistics over the past six years.
“I’m off and running,” she said.
One opening gig was fateful: when Martin crossed paths on stage with the New York Bee Gees on their home turf.
“In 2015 I was hired to open for the New York Bee Gees at B.B. King’s in New York and they had never heard of me,” Martin said. “After my set, I was in the dressing room. I hear them playing and the lead singer comes and pulls me on stage to do ‘Heaven Knows’ in their set. We’ve been working together ever since.”
Martin said she has put time, energy and resources into getting the look and the feel of a Summer performance just right.
“I studied a lot of her live performances to get her mannerisms down,” she said. “I also had the privilege to go see her life story in New York in ‘Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.’ I take a little from every bit, whether it’s reading something she wrote or studying her footage to get her movements down.”
“After every show, I have people come up to me with tears in their eyes telling me how I really took them back to that point in time,” Martin said. “When I start my show, I start singing first so people hear me before they see me. When they actually see me in full costume, their mouths are hitting the floor. I do everything to bring that era and that time back to the present. It makes it all worthwhile, all the work and preparation it takes to become Donna. I’ve been doing Donna for six years now. When I get this response it makes it worth what I do to bring her back to life.” n
Friday Night Fever, a tribute concert featuring the New York Bee Gees and Rainere Martin, comes to town 8 p.m. May 11 at Keswick Theater, 291 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside. For more information or tickets, call 215-572-7650 or visit www.badgirls-donnasummertribute.com.