Afrocentric Theatre, Music, Culture and Business

Joni Sledge – A tribute Joni Sledge – A tribute
Joni Sledge – A tribute

In the 70s, hardly will you mention music and disco, without someone ascribing it to the Sledge Sisters. Fast forward to today, their legacy still live in the heart of good music lovers. Following the death of a prominent member of the Group, Joni Sledge, I have decided to make a recap of the wave this wonderful group had created in their prime.


In Philadelphia Pennsylvania, a small family of seven happen to be wallowing in a houseful of legendary musical talent. A grandmother Viola Williams, who was an opera singer, a father Edwin Sledge (1923-1996) who was a Broadway tap dancer, a mother Florez Sledge (1928-2007) who was an actress and an ardent jazz music fan. I believe you can guess what will happen to the rest of the family especially when all the children are females and beautiful. It will be a household of glee, I would say.


Well, you are not wrong if you had guess they would be the female version of the Jackson five, only they stayed professionally together longer than the J5. In 1971, they formed a group of 4 and named it “Sledge Sister” (a name in my opinion that sounded like it is a group of female marvel superheroes and isn’t befitting for a set of beautiful women with angelic voices).


Between the ages of 13 – 18, the wonderful siblings of four (4) Debbie, Joni, Kim and Kathy released their first single “Time Will Tell” on local music label Money Back and got their first major performance for the summer at a place called Club Harlem in Philadelphia.


As Debbie narrated in an interview “We were the opening act for artists including the Pointer Sisters and Aretha Franklin, and learned so much. We weren’t concerned about making it big. We were just enjoying life, doing what we loved as a family and meeting awesome people.”


In 1973, they released the single “Mama Never Told Me”, which became a top 20 hit in the UK. ImpressiveThey got their first national hit in 1974 with the single “Love, Don’t You Go Through No Changes on Me” which reached number 31 on the R&B charts. The song became a big hit in Japan and as a result the groups were flown to the country to perform at the Tokyo Music Festival where they won the silver prize.


It was in that same year they went to performed in Zaire along with James Brown. The group exploded commercially when Nile Rodgers and Bernand Edwards produced their song “We are Family” (this song is my all time favorite) and soared to number one on the R&B charts. They got their first Grammy nomination and Pittsburgh Pirates (a baseball team) adopted the song as their official anthem.


As a result of a rift in 1989, Kathy left the group to pursue a solo career. I want to believe that it has its own toll on the group but nonetheless they still continue to entertain, marvel fans with their art and inspire generations. Kathy also farewell with her solo debut album “Heart” in 1992. But the big blow came in March 10, 2017 when Joni Sledge was found died in her home in Arizona. It saddened my heart and all their fans upon hearing this news.

My condolence to her family and I say “rest in peace Joni, we will miss you”.


By  Ifinite_Writer

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