Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6: Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge - "We Are Family" - is 55-years-old today.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the granddaughter of former opera singer Viola Williams, Kathy Sledge along with her three sisters, Debra, Joni and Kim, enjoyed many pop, R&B and disco hits. Their group, named "Sister Sledge," had several hits on the Hot Dance Music chart, including "Take Me Back To Love Again," which hit #1 in 1992.

Kathy sang lead on Sister Sledge's hits "He's the Greatest Dancer," "We Are Family," "Lost in Music," "Got to Love Somebody," "Reach Your Peak," "All American Girls," "My Guy," and "B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Baby)."

Kathy Sledge returned to the dance chart in 2001 as a featured vocalist for King Britt's musical project Sylk 130 on the track "Rising."

The Sledge sisters starting singing in church as "Mrs. Williams' Grandchildren" in Philadelphia. Debra was the first to start school. After she joined the glee club, she come back home and taught harmony to her sisters. Sister Sledge started performing professionally in their teens. In 1971, they released their first single, under their newly coined name, Sisters Sledge.

A few years later, Sister Sledge signed with Atlantic Records' Atco subsidiary. The quartet was teamed with the hit production duo of former Main Ingredient Tony "Champagne" Sylvester and Bert "Super Charts" DeCoteaux who produced hits for Ben E. King.

Their first major label singles, "Love Don't Go Through No Changes On Me" from their debut album Circle of Love was a hit, making it to number 31 R&B in late 1974. In the group's album cover photo, a teenage, pig-tailed Kathy is all smiles.

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Circle of Love

Despite her tender age, on the album's ballads, "Cross My Heart," "Don't You Miss Him," and "You're Much Better Off Loving Me," there are hints of the earthy, sexiness that Kathy would later exhibit on later recordings.

The album tracks, the popular dance tune "Circle Of Love" and the touching Joni-lead Thom Bell/Linda Creed composed ballad "Give Into Love" received substantial radio airplay.

After being transferred to Atlantic's Cotillion label, Sister Sledge worked with Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay, the producers of Silver Convention who wrote most of the songs for their 1977 LP, Together.

Kathy co-wrote with keyboardist Don Freeman "Do the Funky Do," wrote the sambo-flavored, acoustic guitar-laced groover "Can't Mess Around With Love," and lead the group through an up-tempo version of Steve Wonder's 1967 smash "I Was Made to Love Him."  Another Wonder tune, "As" was sped up by the sisters and received considerable radio airplay.

The hit songwriting-production duo of guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards of Atlantic Records act Chic were told by Atlantic that they could work with any artist at the label. They chose Sister Sledge. Their first single together was "He's the Greatest Dancer," which hit number one R&B and number two pop on Billboard's charts in spring 1979.

Then they hit the big time. "We Are Family," the title track of Sister Sledge's third album, had already received massive dance club and radio play when it was issued as a single, giving the group their first and only certified gold single going to number one R&B and number two pop in summer 1979. The track was adopted by the 1979 World Series-winning Pittsburgh Pirates and numerous other organizations, and it became a standard tune for family reunions. The We Are Family LP went platinum, peaking at number three pop in spring 1979.

The Rodgers/Edwards-produced follow-up LP Love Somebody Today boasted the singles: "Got to Love Somebody" b/w "Good Girl Now" (number six R&B), the perky "Reach Your Peak," and "Let's Go on Vacation." The title track to their 1981 LP All American Girls went to number three R&B in early 1981.

In 1992, Kathy Sledge signed with Epic Records as a solo artist. The album, Heart, featured the singles "Take Me Back to Love Again" and the ballad "All of My Love." "Take Me Back..." was a huge dance club hit. The album's title track was released as a single and also became a dance hit. After she left Epic, Sledge recorded several dance hits on independent and foreign labels.

Kathy continued to perform with her sisters and and they recorded the album African Eyes in 1998 as well as the Live in Concert album in 1997.

In 2004 they headlined the International Food and Wine Festival at the Epcot theme park. In 2003, Debbi and Joni performed with two other female singers in the PBS special, "My Music: 70's Soul Superstars."
From 2012 We Are Family Reality show; Su Wingate, Raven Wingate, Kathy Sledge and herdaughter, Kristen Gabrielle

 Sister Sledge's most popular songs have been re-released several times in the UK, often in newly-remixed versions which keep them sounding new and up-to-date.

For More about Kathy, visit her Website at -


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