Joni Sledge, a founding member of the legendary band Sister Sledge, has died at the age of 60.
Sledge started the iconic group with her sisters. The group, which was known for crossing over genres, is best remembered for its 1979 dance anthem, We Are Family.
Other well-known hits include He’s the Greatest Dancer and My Guy.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sledge Was Found Unresponsive in Her Home
According to Ebony Magazine, Sledge “was found unresponsive at her home in Phoenix, Arizona on March 10 and was later pronounced dead.”
The cause of death was not yet clear. Her spokesman said she was not sick before her death, however.
2. In a Statement, Sledge’s Loved Ones Wrote That ‘Numbness Fell Upon Our Family’
The family confirmed Sledge’s death in a Facebook post.
The post started “Important Announcement.”
“Yesterday, numbness fell upon our family. We are saddened to inform you that our dear sister, mother, aunt, niece and cousin, Joni passed away yesterday. Please pray for us as we weep for this loss. We do know that she is now eternally with Our Lord,” the post read. “We thank you in advance for allowing us the privacy to mourn quietly as a family. We miss her and hurt for her presence, her radiance, and the sincerity with which she loved & embraced life. We love you & God Bless You all. The Sledge Family.”
2. Sledge Is Survived by an Adult Son
According to Ebony Magazine, Sledge is survived by one child, an adult son.
Billboard reports that Sledge’s son is named Thaddeus, and she is also survived by her sisters Debbie, Kim and Kathy.
3. The Four Sisters Started the Group Together in the 1970s but Success Took Some Time
The Associated Press reports that “Sledge and her sisters Debbie, Kim and Kathy formed the Sister Sledge in 1971 in Philadelphia, their hometown, but struggled for years before success came.”
In an interview with the Guardian, Joni said, “The four of us had been in the music business for eight years and we were frustrated. We were saying: ‘Well, maybe we should go to college and just become lawyers or something other than music, because it really is tough.'”
However, their alliance with members of the group Chic led to their seminal album “We Are Family,” and the song with that name became a legendary hit, according to AP. It’s considered a dance anthem that celebrates sisterhood and includes the line, “We are family, I got all my sisters with me.”
4. Joni Was Born Joan Sledge in Philadelphia
According to IMDB, Joni was born in 1957 in Philadelphia as Joan Sledge.
Joni’s website says her “extraordinary talent has been developed within the illustrious backdrop of her family legacy; Grand mother, Viola Beatrix Hairston Williams, (Julliard graduate and lyric soprano), was a dedicated coach.”
Over the years, “Joni and her sisters garnered several number one hits and over one hundred awards and commendations, including: Billboard Artist of the Year, Tokyo Music Festival Silver Award and two Grammy nominations / Record of the Year and Best R&B Dou or Group/ Their “anthem” We Are Family won the Grammy for Song of the Year,” the site says.
5. Joni Created a Unique Sound Known as Alternative Soul
According to her website, Joni created a unique sound called “alternative soul.”
“For Joni Sledge, the sheer love of music has inspired her to travel extensively, dedicating time to the exploration and study of world musical influence,” her website home page says.
“She has worked with some of the most brilliant musicians of our time and has developed as a prolific songwriter/ producer and entertainer. Enthused by African rhythms, jazz, classical, Spanish guitar and R&B. Joni has created a unique sound; heralded as ‘alternative soul’ Joni and her music have been described as passionate, beautiful, profound, intense, full of life.”
According to the AP, the sisters last performed in concert in October 2016.