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She Works Hard For The Money by Donna Summer

Album: She Works Hard For The MoneyReleased: 1983Charted:
3
25
  • This song was based on a true-to-life experience. Donna Summer was in Chasens restaurant in Los Angeles. She went to the bathroom and saw the attendant taking a nap with a small TV on. Donna startled the woman from her nap, and the woman told Donna she worked two jobs and was really tired. Donna thought to herself, "Wow, she really works hard for her money." Later that night while at home thinking about her, Summer wrote the song in about 20 minutes.
  • The bathroom attendant from Chasens was placed on the back of the album cover. The first line of the song says her name - "Onetta there in the corner stands..." (thanks, Greg - Arlington, TX, for above 2)
  • Summer wrote this with Michael Omartian, who also produced the album and played many of the instruments. Omartian also co-wrote "Sailing" with Christopher Cross and produced "We Are The World" with Quincy Jones.
  • The music video was directed by Brian Grant, who was one of the first directors in the medium, having done clips for Queen and The Human League the predated MTV. The video for "She Works Hard For The Money" shows various women working difficult jobs - nurse, housekeeper, waitress - and then joining together in the end for a group dance. According to Summer, this was to show that they have overcome their challenges and succeeded.

    The video was very popular on MTV, airing a few months after Michael Jackson broke the MTV color barrier with "Billie Jean." Summer became the first black female singer to land a video in hot rotation on the network.
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Comments: 8

Donna Summer was the first black female played on MTV and SWHFTM was the first video played in heavy rotation by a black female (1983). She was also the first to have her videos played in consistent heavy rotation, as she had the stations support. Tina Turner and the Pointer Sister followed her in having their videos played in consistent heavy rotation. As Summer did not release an album after 1984's Cats Without Claws until 1987. Unfortunately on the net much of this trailblazing Summer did, has be attributed incorrectly to WH or JJ. She was the first female artist to really dominate the pop charts. Billboard's top musical act between 1976-82, with 12 top ten hits. She had 9 consecutive top 5 hits, between July 1978 and November 1980. In one 12 month period November 25, 1978 to November 24, 1979; she scored 6 top 4 singles, 4 of them going to number one. She was the first female of the modern rock era to have the number one single and album, on the charts at the same time (she did that 3 times in 8 months). She took 3 double albums sets to the top of the charts in a 14 month period. Named the first true diva of the modern pop era by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.Dennis - Tornto
On August 20th 1983, a video of "She Works Hard for the Money" by Donna Summer was aired on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
Three months earlier on May 22nd, 1983 it entered Billboard's Hot Top chart at position #67; and on July 31st, 1983 it peaked at #3 {for 3 weeks} and spent 21 weeks on the Top 100...
The week before it peaked on the Top 100, on July 24th, 1983 it reached #1 {for 3 weeks} on Billboard's R&B Singles chart…
The three weeks it was at #3 on the Top 100, the #1 record was "Every Breath You Take" by the Police and at #2 was "Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics for all three weeks...
R.I.P. Ms. Summer, born LaDonna Adrian Gaines, {1948 - 2012}.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
This Donna Summer hit from '83 made it to #1 in my area (SW Missouri/NE Oklahoma/NW Arkansas) on various radio charts. What a great song that many people connected with, especially women. Moreover, it emphasized Summer's versatility and talents after disco. I lived and worked in the metro Joplin, Missouri area in the Seventies & Eighties and there were many Donna Summer fans in the area. She was a very talented songwriter too. Thanks for this website.Bubblesk - Memphis, Tn
The video for this song received heavy rotation on MTV. Summer became the first African American female to have a video on MTV in heavy rotation.John - Nashville, Tn
I love this song. the vieo roxx my soxx too!!!!Jordan - Haddam, Ct
This song is in my opinion the best anthem for women. I mean really, how much plainer can you put it than saying 'She wroks hard for her money, so treat her right!'Jesse - Haddam, Ct
She Works Hard For The Money ... She worked damn hard for her money, but did her
spoiled little brat of a daughter appreciate it?
Sum Sum - New Delhi, India
The song belongs to the Album of the same name and it was the best known song of that album.

Michael Omartian was the producer and responsible for the success of the album, that in a way redefined Donna as a postdisco rock singer with a breadth of talent and style.
Enrique - Lima, Peru