The Pointer Sisters rose to fame in the 1970’s and ’80s as a female group, and have proven to be extremely diverse throughout their career. They’re predominantly considered an R&B group, but their style has dipped into almost every music category there is, including pop, disco, jazz, electronic, bebop, blues, soul, funk, dance, country, and rock.
That ability to transcend genre has won them Grammys, brought their music to “Sesame Street,” provided background for artists like Grace Slick and Boz Scaggs, and gotten a cover by Elvis Presley. They were the first black female group to ever perform at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, as well as the first contemporary act to perform at the San Francisco Opera House. It’s uncommon for artists of any generation to seamlessly fit in so many different aspects of the music industry and theirs is a legacy worth honoring.
The Pointer sisters’ first introduction to music was through gospel, which was encouraged by their parents Reverend Elton Pointer and Sarah Pointer while they were growing up in Oakland, California. Like many others growing up in the 1960’s, they were told that rock and roll was “the devil’s music.” Not that it kept them from ultimately exploring the style.
The sisters started to get serious about music after graduating from high school, but at its first incarnation, the group was just a duo. Sisters June and Bonnie first started performing as Pointers, a Pair. Then they were joined by Anita and became The Pointer Sisters. After releasing a few unsuccessful singles, they were joined by sister Ruth in 1972. At that point, the group signed with Blue Thumb Records and released a debut album, which earned them a 1975 Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance.
The women were increasingly intent on creating their own sound within the music industry and did not want to follow the current pop trends. To support this mission in their music they also cultivated their own fashion style and relied on 1940’s vintage clothing to make up their stage costumes.
Bonnie ended up leaving the group to pursue a solo career, and it was June, Ruth, and Anita together who started achieving the most success in the 1980’s. Part of this success is attributed to the advent of MTV and being able to reach larger audiences with their music while showcasing their style. The group had a variety of memorable top ten hits, two more of which they won Grammys for. Songs like “Jump (for My Love),” “Automatic,” “Fire,” “He’s So Shy,” “Slow Hand,” “I’m So Excited,” and “Neutron Dance” brought them massive commercial success.
The last album that the group put out was 1993’s “Only Sisters Can Do That,” but despite the 2006 death of member June they have continued performing together throughout the years, rotating their lineup as needed. They took home three out of ten Grammy nominations that they received in their career and have had a lasting voice in the music industry. They have not yet been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, despite being eligible since 1998.