Disco's Gaynor Lends Voice To Kid's Book "I Will Survive" was an anthem for the disco era. Now Gloria Gaynor has a new message for the 21st century. She's voicing the role of Fistiki the Cat on a bonus CD that comes with the children's book Loukoumi's Good Deeds, written by Nick Katsoris. Gaynor is one of several celebrities who provided their voices for the CD, which is narrated by Jennifer Aniston and her father, the soap opera star John Aniston. Host Scott Simon speaks with Gaynor, who also wrote an original song for the book.

Disco's Gaynor Lends Voice To Kid's Book

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Coming up - sex, God, rock and roll. There's a trio. But first…

(Soundbite of song, "I Will Survive")

Ms. GLORIA GAYNOR (Singer): (Singing) I will survive…

SIMON: "I Will Survive" - an anthem for the disco era. Now Gloria Gaynor has a new message for the 21st century.

Ms. GAYNOR: Make someone smile. Do a good deed. Lend a hand to a friend in need. Whatever you do, whatever you say, do something nice for someone today.

SIMON: That's Gloria Gaynor voicing the role of Fistiki, the cat on a bonus CD that comes along with the children's book "Loukoumi's Good Deeds," written by Nick Katsoris. Ms. Gaynor is one of several celebrities who provided their voices for a CD that is narrated by Jennifer Aniston and her father, the soap opera star John Aniston.

Gloria Gaynor joins us now from member station WBGO in Newark, New Jersey. Thanks so much for being with us.

Ms. GAYNOR: It's my great pleasure. Thank you for having me.

SIMON: Let's set the story: a little lamb learning to help people. And apparently it's based on something that actually happened to Nick Katsoris. Do you know that story?

Ms. GAYNOR: Yes, I do. Nick used to work in an office some years ago and there was a cleaning lady there. And every morning Nick would come in and he would see her and he'd say hello to her, and just go on to his office and start his work for the day. And she bought him a pair of gold cufflinks just because he made her feel good by saying good morning to her every day.

And so the book is based on that gesture and the reason behind that gesture.

SIMON: Tell us about your character, Fistiki.

Ms. GAYNOR: Fistiki is a curious little cat that becomes friendly with Loukoumi. In the first book, Loukoumi is going around the neighborhood trying to determine what she wants to be when she grows up. And Fistiki is one of the little animals that she runs into in her trials around the neighborhood, and they become friendly. And they've been friendly throughout the three books that Nick has written.

So in this one Fistiki explains that just because you don't know someone doesn't mean you shouldn't be nice to them and that it's really nice to do good deeds for people.

SIMON: So your involvement with - really with these books and these characters predates this book.

Ms. GAYNOR: Oh yeah, it does, it does. Yeah, this is the third one. For the first one I co-wrote a song called "Believe," because that book is about learning to believe in yourself and making your dreams come true. And this one I co-wrote a song called "Make Someone Smile," with - both of the songs are co-written with Don Auriolo(ph). And so this one is about doing good deeds and making someone smile.

SIMON: Let's listen to a little of it.

(Soundbite of song, "Make Someone Smile")

Ms. GAYNOR: (Singing) Make someone smile, take it slow, let it last a while. When you do, the whole world smiles with you.

SIMON: How's it singing for an audience of children, which is to say their parents too?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. GAYNOR: It was fun. We did it at the Barnes and Noble book store in New York a few weeks ago. And all of the children were there and they were just, like, you know, riveted. It was a lot of fun.

SIMON: Ms. Gaynor, as you go around the country, the world really, are there people who come up to you and talk to you about what "I Will Survive" has meant to them?

Ms. GAYNOR: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I get that all the time. And it's very encouraging for me because it adds meaning and purpose to my life to know that I'm able to sing a song that brings hope and encouragement and empowerment to so many people in so many different situations and circumstances.

The most rewarding story I've ever heard was - I was in Italy. And I'd sung "I Will Survive" - had done the entire show and sung "I Will Survive." And after the show this young lady came to me and she must've been around 24, 25 years old, and she said to me that she'd missed her flight that morning. And I said to her I was sorry, and she said, no, no, I'm glad I missed the flight. She said, I think God had me miss that flight so that I could come and see you. And I said, oh, isn't that sweet?

And she said, no, you don't understand. Where I'm living here in Italy, I don't have any privacy. It's with kind of a large family and I have no privacy and I was very, very sad. And I was going home so that I could commit suicide.

SIMON: Oh my gosh.

Ms. GAYNOR: But now that I know - now that I've heard you sing "I Will Survive," I know where my strength can come from and I don't have to die. So there we were, you know, just two puddles, blubbering.

SIMON: Oh my gosh.

Ms. GAYNOR: But how, you know, encouraging is that for me to know that, you know, something, somebody could be so distraught as to think about taking their own life and then be so encouraged.

SIMON: Yeah. Well, Ms. Gaynor, so nice talking to you. Thanks so much.

Ms. GAYNOR: Thank you so much. It's been my pleasure.

SIMON: Gloria Gaynor joining us from member station WBGO in Newark. She's one of several celebrity narrators on the recorded version of "Loukoumi's Good Deeds," the latest in the Loukoumi series by Nick Katsoris. Thanks so much.

Ms. GAYNOR: Thank you.

(Soundbite of song, "I Will Survive")

SIMON: We'd like to hear your "I Will Survive" story. Come on, everybody has one - inspiring, sad, instructive, or merely hilarious. Just come to our blog, NPR.org/SoapBox.

(Soundbite of song, "I Will Survive")

Ms. GAYNOR: (Singing) You think I'd lay down and die, oh no, not I, I will survive. Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I'm still alive. I've got all my life to live and I've got all my love to give. And I'll survive, I will survive, I will survive…

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