The Pointer Sisters in 1974
By Keisha Bell
When was the first time you noticed sisters working together? Was it on a childhood playground or a musical stage?
Meet The Pointer Sisters, a Rhythm and Blues singing group of sisters that initially consisted of Bonnie, June and Anita Pointer. In December of 1972, Ruth, the oldest sister, joined the group.
In 1974, The Pointer Sisters made history by becoming the first African-American group to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. This opportunity was the result of a country song, written by Anita and Bonnie, called “Fairytale.” Not known for country music, this exception proved to be profitable as “Fairytale” reached #13 on the pop charts and #37 on the country charts.
“Fairytale” won a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group, and Elvis Presley later covered it.
Born in Oakland, Calif, the sisters were popular during the 1970s and 1980s. During that time, they received 13 US top 20 hits as people did the “Neutron Dance.”
Their long career includes a wide range of genres. They decided early on that they did not want to follow what was trendy but instead wanted to create an original sound that combined jazz music, jazz singing, and bebop music.
The Pointer Sisters have won three Grammy Awards altogether. In 1994, the group received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The sisters did not have instant success. Together, however, they enjoyed the experience. Once the group signed its second recording contract, the sisters began to record their first full-fledged album, which led to them searching for a visual style for their act.
Not able to afford expensive wardrobes, they assembled a collection of vintage 1940s clothes from thrift shops, comprising period costumes to give them their distinctive look. Thus, their unique yet relatable wardrobe was formed. The idea was essentially “Automatic.”
The Pointer Sisters achieved international success. They have also experienced great tragedy, including the death of their youngest sister June. Drug addiction, losing a child, health challenges and break-ups all have impacted the group.
Today, Ruth and Anita are still active with The Pointer Sisters. The other active members are the daughter and granddaughter of Ruth.
The thought of what The Pointer Sisters were able to accomplish when they stayed together is remarkable. It started as a childhood dream in a home where listening to gospel music was the only approved genre. That musical introduction led each of them to explore other genres collectively. By doing so, they have inspired musical entertainers that follow.
The Pointer Sisters made history in a world while proclaiming “Yes We Can Can.” They showed an international audience “American Music.”
Because of them, we saw on a public stage family and fun. We saw hard-work and determination. We were able to make memories as we told others to “Jump (For My Love).”
Sisters working together, thank you.
Keisha Bell is an attorney, author, and public servant. www.emergingfree.com