Skip to main content

Gloria Gaylor: I Will Survive PG-13 ★★★★

By February 18, 2024February 21st, 2024Backstage Pass

The final quote spoken by Gloria Gaynor in her new documentary film says it all: “I will survive and thrive.” If ever there was a role model for perseverance in the face of adversity, Gloria Gaynor could be the poster child. Her hit song, “I Will Survive” (1978), has served as an anthem of liberation, bravery, self-actualization, and faith. Here, we see many of the hardships and misfortunes she had in her life, not to mention the tremendous successes in her beautiful singing voice.


Betsy Schechter and editors David Zieff and Kieran Healy weave the film through photographs, posters, archival video footage of the renowned ‘Disco Queen’ performances, we see so many of concerts, television appearances, and interviews. What you’ll find out is that she fell backwards while onstage during a performance and seriously injured her spine. The film gives us the early history of injury and the pain and suffering that would plague her throughout her life. It was amazing to see the footage from all over the world and how much her fans mean to her as vice versa.

As a bonus, we are privy to her comeback and her road to switching music genres as she’s determined to record a gospel album. We learn that breaking into the tight circle isn’t easy, although Gloria’s steadfast commitment to the project is nothing less than inspirational. We see the other musicians involved as her unwavering path to her goal is accomplished. The end result is the icing on the cake; I’ll leave that as a surprise for viewers. Let’s say that in her late 60s and 70s, she soared, just as she had in her early career.

In 1979, at the 22nd Grammy Awards, she won Best Disco Recording “I Will Survive.” 2016 the Library of Congress inducted the song into the National Recording Registry. She enjoyed many accolades, yet her fall on stage plagued her throughout her life as the number of back surgeries was astounding. She speaks openly of being sexually assaulted at a young age twice by different people and the scars she carries from the abandonment of her father. She searched for approval and love while trying to be ‘good enough’ to deserve love.

Sarah Knight Adamson© February 18, 2024