Not Quite Forgotten – 1980′s Hitmaker Laura Branigan. Pop Culture Music History.
Laura Ann Branigan is an American singer-songwriter and actress famous for her platinum-certified single cover of “Gloria.” Gloria is an Italian love song by Umberto Tozzi and Giancarlo Bigazzi. An English translation was then published, and Laura made a rendition of it in 1982. Her version became an international hit, selling over two million singles in the USA alone.
The Italian “Gloria”
Umberto Tozzi recorded “Gloria” in the summer of 1979, where it stayed rank two on the Italian Top-10 music chart for six weeks and remained in the list for an additional ten weeks.
The lyrics talk about an imaginary woman named Gloria. The singer described his life as miserable. Although, when he dreamed of Gloria, his nights became better. For him, Gloria is the queen that could free him from cruel reality. In the song, his friends regarded him as foolish because they have never met Gloria. The singer assured his friend that when he finds her, he will talk about Gloria’s beauty. All his life, the singer looked for Gloria until he finally met her. He promised to love, hold, and keep her because she is the dream of his life.
Laura Branigan’s “Gloria”
Laura Branigan released a Side-A label in a 12-inch vinyl for the synthpop version of the song. She worked with producer Jack White who suggested doing a cover for “Gloria.” When she first heard it, she believed it could be re-written with an American vibe. Laura envisions Gloria as a girl who runs too fast for her own steps. Jack White then co-produced it with song arranger and pianist, Greg Mathieson.
Since then, Gloria has become her signature song. In an interview, Laura disclosed that her fans always have the same reaction when she sang the song. Whenever and where she went, the audience would always go crazy with it. Later in 2004, she released a Hi-NRG re-recording that belongs to the uptempo disco or electronic dance music genre.
About the Singer
Born on July 3, 1952, Laura Ann Branigan is the fourth of Kathleen and James Branigan’s five children. She attended Byram Hills High School and was a member of their theatre club. In her senior year, Laura starred in their high school musical, The Pajama Game.
After her high school graduation, Laura enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She worked as a waitress to fund her studies. In 1972, she met an acoustic guitarist Walker Daniels, his wife Sharon Storm, and another guitarist Chris Van Cleave. The four formed the folk-rock band Meadow. In 1973, bassist Bob Valdez joined the group, and they finally released their debut album, The Friend Ship. However. The record was never promoted, and the band eventually broke up.
During Laura’s stay in the Meadow, she had several side gigs, including Leonard Cohen’s back-up singer for his European tour. In 1979, she met manager Sid Bernstein by chance, who signed her to Atlantic Records. Laura’s vocal range and quality stabilized her recording career as a pop singer. Three years later, her first top chart song, “Looking Out for Number One,” made it rank 60. Two singles, “Tell Him” and “Fool’s Affair,” followed as well. These songs, however, were not included in her debut album.
The Branigan Album
This 9-track debut album was released in March 1982. The first single, “All Night With Me,” reached rank 69 in the Billboard charts. The Branigan album included four Hi-NRG songs, five ballads, and “I Wish We Could Be Alone,” which Laura wrote. The famous “Gloria” cover was also included here.
Laura’s performance for Gloria was nominated Best Female Vocal Pop Performance in the Grammy Awards. This song also reached no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 36 weeks on the chart. This feat set a new record for a solo female song single at the time.
The Sudden Loss
The singer made several television appearances such as in the “CHiPs” and films “Backstage” and “Mugsy’s Girls.” Throughout her career, she released six more albums after Branigan, including “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You,” “Self-Control,” and “Solitaire.”
However, on August 26, 2004, she died in a New York lodge, at age 52. It was reported that she suffered a ventricular brain aneurysm and became the cause of her death. Laura was experiencing extreme headaches several weeks before, but she did not seek medical attention.
Her remains were cremated, and the ashes were scattered over Long Island Sound.