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I Will Survive - Radio 4 celebrates the enduring success of Gloria Gaynor's classic song

Category: Radio 4

Date: 24.03.2005
Printable version

Gloria Gaynor's disco hit I Will Survive has itself survived to become one of the most important songs of empowerment for women as well as, in a wider context, a gay anthem, the French World Cup squad's signature tune, and the hen-night karaoke number one choice.


Join Paul Gambaccini on Monday 25 April on BBC Radio 4 to find out how the disco song that started life as a B-side in 1979 has gained a reputation as one of the most empowering songs ever composed.


Whether helping women through relationship crises, urging the French football team on to World Cup victory, saving the life of a capsized trans-Atlantic rower, or simply clearing the room of men during a hen-night karaoke - I Will Survive has built on its rhythm-pounding role as a source of self-esteem and courage.


In Radio 4's documentary I Will Survive both men and women talk about what the song means to them.


The rower who capsized, Elisabeth Hoff, was caught 400 miles off the Moroccan coast by a storm which turned her boat upside down.


Clambering out on to the upturned keel, she perched on it for 11 hours singing the song over and over again.


It was, she says, a song "that saved and changed my life".


For one woman suffering from an intense depression over a break-up, a friend recorded it 17 times on to a DVD so she could take it with her in the car, at home, wherever she went.


For a gay man, coming out in small town Australia, the song gave him the courage to fight prejudice and fear.


For Gloria Gaynor herself, she recognised the song as a hit immediately and has never tired of singing it, though ironically the song was actually written by two men, Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren, great hitmakers of the disco era.


Underscoring the programme, and breaking out from time to time, are the numerous different versions recorded by artists as varied as: the West Coast group Cake, Diana Ross, Billie Jo Spears, the thrash group Snuff and the Miami Mass Choir.


And there is Gloria Gaynor's unequalled original beginning with that innocent tumble of piano arpeggios and the words that start so gently yet raise a yell of recognition - 'At first I was afraid I was petrified...'


I Will Survive, BBC Radio 4, Monday 25 April, 8.30pm




Category: Radio 4

Date: 24.03.2005
Printable version


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