LaDonna Adrian Gaines was born in Boston, Massachusetts on December 31, 1948. Donna came from a large musical family (being the 3rd child out of seven) in Mission Hill, a neighborhood in Boston. Her mother, Mary Gaines worked as a school teacher. Her father, Andrew Gaines worked as a butcher. Donna grew up in church, and there she had her debut performance at the age of ten years old. She went to Jeremiah E. Burke High School, and weeks before she was supposed to graduate, Donna left for New York City where she joined a band called Crow. After “Crow” disbanded, Donna took her talents to Broadway. Donna auditioned and got the part of Sheila in the musical Hair. After a successful run in New York, Donna agreed to play the role in the German version of the show in Munich, Germany. Donna eventually began to speak German fluently. In 1968, Summer released her first single, a German version of “Aquarius” off the record label Polydor under the artist name Donna Gaines.