Sister Sledge were an American soul group from Philadelphia comprised of sisters Debbie, Kim, Joni, and Kathy Sledge, who began performing as a vocal quartet in 1971. After a string of singles for Atlantic-subsidiary ATCO during the early 1970s, the group released an album on the label in 1975. The group was shifted to the parent label’s Cotillion imprint for a six-album run between 1977 and 1983, followed by an eighth longplayer on Atlantic-proper in 1985.
Members: Debbie Sledge (vocals), Kim Sledge (vocals), Joni Sledge (vocals, 1971-2017), Kathy Sledge (vocals, 1971-89)
Born to Broadway tap dancer Edwin Sledge (1923–1996) and actress Florez Sledge (née Williams; 1928–2007), the four sisters — Debra Elaine “Debbie” Sledge (b. July 9, 1954), Joan Elise “Joni” Sledge (Sept. 13, 1956 – March 10, 2017), Kim Sledge (b. Aug. 21, 1957), and Kathy Sledge (b. Jan. 6, 1959) — trained as children under their grandmother, former soprano opera singer Viola Williams. She directed them as a singing unit at church and charity functions. All four sisters attended Olney High School and Temple University in Philadelphia. They were between the ages of 12 and 16 when they started performing as Sister Sledge.
In 1971, they released their first single, “Time Will Tell” (b/w “Brand New Generation”), on local-press Money Back. It was written and produced by Marty Bryant (co-writer of “You’re a Big Girl Now” for The Stylistics) for Hodge Bryant Coles Production. In 1973, they signed to ATCO and released two singles: “The Weatherman” (b/w “Have You Met My Friend”) and “Mama Never Told Me” (b/w “Neither One of Us”).
Their 1974 single, “Love Don’t You Go Through No Changes On Me” (b/w “Don’t You Miss Him”), was a hit in Japan, where the sisters won a Silver Prize at the Tokyo Music Festival. That September, they performed at Zaire 74, a music festival in Kinshasa, Zaire, organized by Hugh Masekela. Their performance took place alongside James Brown during the Rumble in the Jungle boxing event, where challenger Muhammad Ali prevailed over reigning heavyweight champion George Foreman.
In January 1975, Sister Sledge released Circle of Love, their only album for Atco Records.
- Circle of Love (1975)
- Together (1977)
- We Are Family (1979)
- Love Somebody Today (1980)
- All American Girls (1981)
- The Sisters (1982)
- Bet Cha Say That to All the Girls (1983)
- When the Boys Meet the Girls (1985)
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