Tuesday, March 12, 2013

TAKE TWO: SISTER SLEDGE


Sister Sledge is one of many singing groups that not only shared in vocal harmonies but also the same DNA. These ladies hit the height of their fame during a time in America when people wanted to do nothing more than get on the dance floor and shake their groove thang. Their songs are still highly influential and are as exciting today as they were when they first hit the airwaves over forty years ago.

The sisters, Debbie, Kim, Joni and Kathy grew-up in Philadelphia and formed a professional singing act when they were just teenagers. The Sledges recorded their first single, "Time Will Tell" under a local record label in 1971. Although that first song wasn't a major success but they kept on until eventually scoring their first national hit with, "Love, Don't You Go Through No Changes On Me" that hit the top forty on the r&b chart. This lead to the recording of their debut album, "Circle Of Love" in 1974 but the release wasn't commercially successful.

Sister Sledge were teamed with Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, the musical creators of the group, Chic and "We Are Family" was released in 1979 at the height of the disco music craze. It may seem that the girls were not much more than singers-for-hire as Rodgers & Edwards maintained complete control of the project but the combination proved to be quite magical. The title track and "He's The Greatest Dancer" became international smash hits along with the more modest success of "Lost In Music" and "Thinking Of You" which helped turn this album in to a modern classic. These songs have continued to be remixed over the years and have even reappeared on the pop charts, most especially in the U.K. where "We Are Family" reached number five there in 1993 which is actually higher than it charted when the original version was released.

The subsequent albums from Sister Sledge were not able to achieve the same amount of commercial acclaim although the group had a surprise number one hit in Britain in 1985 with the song, "Frankie". The sisters continue to perform together and separately with their last major appearance was on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 2011.

Listen to two of my favorite songs from Sister Sledge:

"He's The Greatest Dancer" - Sister Sledge (1979)

"Easier To Love" - Sister Sledge (1979)

ABSENT FACES IN POP MUSIC

I had read a interesting article recently in the Los Angeles Times about the difficulties of a new generation of Black female singers being...