Today, an American musical group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. formed in 1971, when the sisters' ages ranged from 12 to 16, the group consisted of sisters Debbie, Joni, Kim and Kathy Sledge. Best known for their work with Chic in the late '70s, the siblings reached the height of their popularity during the disco era but had been recording since the early '70s and were still active in the late '90s. ... N'joy
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Daughters of Broadway tap dancer Edwin Sledge (who died in Houston, Texas on July 1, 1996 at age 73) and actress Florez Sledge (who died of a stroke in Phoenix, Arizona on May 17, 2007 at age 79), Debbie, Joni, Kathy and Kim were given vocal training by their grandmother Viola Williams, a former lyric soprano opera singer and protégé of civil rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune. Under Viola’s guidance they regularly sang at their family church, Williams Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) until forming a band and performing at charity and political events throughout Philadelphia, aptly named ‘Mrs Williams’ Grandchildren’.
The group toured much of the East Coast including New York, New Jersey and home town Philadelphia with Florez acting as their manager (and tour bus driver) and Debbie as musical director. They released their first single "Time Will Tell" in 1971 on local music label Money Back. In 1973, they released the single "Mama Never Told Me", which became a top 20 hit in the UK in 1975, but it was with the Haras Fyre & Gwen Guthrie single "Love Don’t Go Through No Changes On Me" (released in 1974) that the siblings enjoyed their first taste of success. The song was a big hit in Japan and as a result the girls were flown to the country to perform at the Tokyo Music Festival where they won the Silver Prize. The sisters also performed at the Zaire '74 concert in Africa alongside James Brown during the infamous Rumble in the Jungle boxing event.
Sister Sledge’s first album Circle of Love was released by ATCO (a subsidiary of Atlantic Records) in 1975 and included songs written by Soul legend Gwen Guthrie and Gwen's then-boyfriend, studio bassist Haras Fyre. The group enjoyed some success in Europe and as a result, the album Together was recorded in Germany in 1977. Released through the Cotillion label, the album produced a minor hit with the single "Blockbuster Boy" reaching No. 61 on the US R&B chart. Nearing the end of the decade all four sisters graduated
At something of a cross roads in their careers, the future seemed a little uncertain for the group but Atlantic Records connected them with producers Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of the band Chic, and all that changed. After some initial challenges in working collaboratively, the breakthrough album We Are Family was recorded and released by Cotillion. The lead single "He’s The Greatest Dancer" charted at No. 1 R&B and was a No. 9 crossover hit. In 1979, the records anthemic namesake "We Are Family" followed and became a worldwide smash charting at No. 2 pop and No. 1 R&B. The song and group were nominated for Grammys and "We Are Family" was adopted as the official anthem for The Pittsburgh Pirates who went on to win the World Series that year. The album was certified platinum by the RIAA and produced two more classic disco singles, "Lost In Music" and "Thinking Of You". Around this time, Debbie Sledge went on maternity leave and the eldest sister, Carol, filled in for her. In 1980, their follow up album Love Somebody Today (also written and produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards) was released.
In 1981, Sister Sledge worked with Narada Michael Walden who produced their fifth studio album, All American Girls. The project was intended as a collaboration but the resulting album is generally attributed to Narada Michael Walden. The title track became a number-three R&B, hit but the following singles "Next Time You’ll Know" and "If You Really Want Me" only did moderate business.
The girls self-produced their next record The Sisters in 1982. The album spawned the No. 14 R&B and No. 23 pop hit "My Guy" (a cover of the Mary Wells classic). The group subsequently appeared on a popular episode of The Jeffersons, in which they performed the song.
The album Bet Cha Say That To All The Girls was released in 1983, the lead single from which featured American Jazz singer Al Jarreau. The group experienced some considerable success in 1984, when they re-released "Thinking of You" and "Lost in Music" in the UK, the latter peaking at No. 4. The following year saw the release of their 7th studio album When the Boys Meet the Girls and continued success in the UK. Released by Atlantic Records, lead single "Frankie" hit the top spot on the UK Singles Chart, spending four weeks at No. 1 and consequently going Gold.
In 1989, Kathy left the group to pursue a solo career. Debbie, Joni and Kim continued to perform as Sister Sledge and in 1992 collaborated with Bluey from UK acid jazz group Incognito on the single "World Rise and Shine". The song featured on their greatest hits album And Now…Sledge…Again. The single reached No. 1 in Italy and resulted in the trio hosting their own TV show there. The group (including Kathy) experienced a resurgence of success in the UK the following year when the Sure as Pure remix of "We Are Family" was released and peaked at No. 5. In 1996, after witnessing a shooting in LA, Joni Sledge wrote the protest song "Brother, Brother stop" that was recorded by the trio and featured on a new greatest hits CD. In 1997, Joni produced the group's 8th studio album African Eyes, that garnered critical acclaim and was nominated for a Grammy as best produced CD.
In December 2000, Sister Sledge performed at The White House for the President and First Lady at the final Christmas party of the Clinton Administration. The following year, in the aftermath of 9/11, all four sisters re-recorded "We Are Family" as a benefit record with a host of other artists, including Diana Ross and Patti Labelle. Debbie, Joni and Kim produced solo material during this period before being reunited in the studio to record the album Style in 2003. Due to legal difficulties, the project officially remains unreleased. Kim, an ordained minister, took some time out from the group and Joni and Debbie continued to tour (with various guest artists), and in 2005 performed on the famous pyramid stage at the The Glastonbury Music Festival in the UK.
With Kim re-joining in 2015, all three sisters performed at a large scale charity benefit in London for Save The Children and were invited to perform for Pope Francis along with Aretha Franklin and Andrea Bocelli at The world Festival of Families in Philadelphia, PA. The performance was covered by the worlds media and went viral due to crowds of Nuns in the audience dancing to "We Are Family". Controversy surrounded the event when stories appeared in the media claiming that Kathy had been banned from performing with her sisters. Debbie, Joni and Kim soon thereafter launched the brand concept, Nothing Is Greater Than Love, and posted a personal response to these allegations on the campaign blog.
The trio are currently in the studio working on new material including a single set for release in Spring 2016, and are also said to be in the process of setting up the Florez Sledge Foundation, a charity named in remembrance of their late mother.
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When Sister Sledge recorded their debut album Circle of Love in 1974, all four members of the group were still in their teens -- Debbie Sledge, the oldest member, was 19, while the youngest, Kathy, was only 15. However, there's nothing bubblegum about Circle of Love. If Sister Sledge sounded like a female equivalent of the early Jackson 5 on 1973's "Mama Never Told Me," this vinyl LP found the Philadelphians sounding more like a younger version of the Three Degrees (who were also from Philly). This LP had a gem of a single in the haunting "Love, Don't You Go Through No Changes on Me," which wasn't huge but did reach number 31 on the R&B charts. The rest of the album isn't that strong, nor is it in a class with Sister Sledge's late-1970s/early-1980s work with Chic and Narada Michael Walden. Nonetheless, it's a decent, if uneven, collection of Philly soul, and the siblings handle themselves well on material ranging from the Gamble & $Huff-minded "Pain Reliever" and the charming "Cross My Heart" to the Thom Bell/Linda Creed ballad "Give in to Love."
Sister Sledge - Circle Of Love (flac 223mb)
01 Circle Of Love (Caught In The Middle) 3:30
02 Cross My Heart 3:22
03 Protect Our Love 4:10
04 Give In The Love 4:55
05 Love Don't You Go Through No Changes On Me 3:24
06 Don't You Miss Him Now 3:15
07 Pain Reliever 3:30
08 You're Much Better Of Loving Me 3:17
09 Fireman 3:40
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On their second time around the Sledge's have jumped ship to the Munich scene,but it's not Giorgio Moroder and Pete Ballotte;they've hooked up with producers Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay,who was also the keyboard and sax player on this album. So this album allowed them to not only stay contemporary and embrace eurodisco to a degree but also diversify their musical pallet. Unlike Circle of Love this album focuses on uptempo and dance tunes with a larger ammount of variety.The punchy "Blockbuster Boy",two Stevie Wonder covers in "I Was Made To Love Him" and "As" as well "Moondancer" and "My Favorite Song" certainly fit right into the then highly popular disco sound and,as always,the sisters inject more then enough of their own personalities and spunk to give these tunes a timeless feeling. But the sisters also get down with some heavy funk-namely on Kathie Sledge's self penned "Do The Funky Do"-with it's punching keyboards and seriously deep beats it actually qualifies as a funk classic along the same lines as The Bar-Kay's "Holy Ghost". They add a little more disco stylings to the same general pallet on "Funky Family",which could actually be seen as a somewhat more rowdy and less tame prelude to "We're A Family".A cover of "Sneaking Sally Through The Alley" is with little doubt one of the funkiest things on this album,and his made even more of a surprise since the sisters didn't alter the lyrics to a mans point of view as they did on their Stevie Wonder cover. This would be their final album before the pair of Chic productions that would make the Sledge's superstars and it will be obvious even on the first listen that the future starts here and the changes are coming fast.
Sister Sledge - Together (flac 327mb)
01 Blockbuster Boy 3:54
02 Do The Funky Do 4:31
03 I Was Made To Love Her (Him) 3:02
04 Hold On To This Feeling 3:59
05 As 4:56
06 Sneaking Sally Through The Alley 3:33
07 Funky Family 4:59
08 Baby It's The Rain 3:31
09 Can't Mess Around With Love 4:12
10 My Favorite Song 3:44
11 Hands Full Of Nothing 4:02
12 Moondancer 4:18
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Before 1979's We Are Family, Sister Sledge wasn't a huge name in the R&B/disco world. The group had enjoyed a small following and scored a few minor hits, including "Love, Don't You Go Through No Changes on Me" in 1974 and "Blockbuster Boy" in 1977. But it wasn't until We Are Family that the Philadelphia siblings finally exploded commercially, and the people they have to thank for their commercial success are Chic leaders Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. The Rodgers/Edwards team handles all of the writing, producing, and arranging on this album; so not surprisingly, almost everything on We Are Family is very Chic-sounding. That is true of the sexy "He's the Greatest Dancer" and the anthemic, uplifting title song (both of which soared to #1 on the R&B charts), as well as excellent album tracks like the lush "Easier to Love," the perky "One More Time," and the addictive "Thinking of You." The least Chic-sounding tune on the album is the ballad "Somebody Loves Me," which favors a classic sweet soul approach and is the type of song one would have expected from Thom Bell, Gamble & Huff, or Holland-Dozier-Holland rather than Rodgers/Edwards. Meanwhile, the intoxicating "Lost in Music" (a #35 R&B hit) is about as Chic-sounding as it gets. Both creatively and commercially, We Are Family is Sister Sledge's crowning achievement.
Sister Sledge - We Are Family (flac 208mb)
01 He's The Greatest Dancer 6:16
02 Lost In Music 4:52
03 Somebody Loves Me 4:59
04 Thinking Of You 4:31
05 We Are Family 8:24
06 Easier To Love 5:05
07 You're A Friend To Me 5:31
08 One More Time 3:17
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A decline was inevitable after the platinum across-the-board success of We Are Family, but Love Somebody Today wasn't quite the dropoff many claimed at the time. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards again properly kept the emphasis on their harmonies, interaction and vocal flexibility, and provided them with more fine material. But this time around, only "Got To Love Somebody" managed to click. The anti-disco backlash was in full bloom, and fine singles like "Easy Street," "How To Love" and "Reach Your Peak" were completely ignored. R&B stations reacted in a lukewarm fashion as well, even though "Reach Your Peak" did prove a moderate R&B hit.
Sister Sledge - Love Somebody Today (flac 249mb)
01 Got To Love Somebody 6:56
02 You Fooled Around 4:30
03 I'm A Good Girl 4:12
04 Easy Street 4:35
05 Reach Your Peak 4:59
06 Pretty Baby 4:04
07 How To Love 4:36
08 Let's Go On Vacation 5:10
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