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The Pointer Sisters Biography

Home > Music > P > Pointer Sisters, The > Biography

Birth Place: Oakland, California, United States
Years Active: 1969–present
Genres: R&B, Soul, Pop, Dance, Rock, Jazz, Country, Gospel

The Pointer Sisters are R&B/soul group that hail from Oakland, California and hit the height of their success during the 1970s and 1980s. The sisters have offered over three decades of music to their audiences, with a sound that incorporates pop, disco, jazz, bebop, blues, soul, funk, dance, country and rock.

The group began when sisters, June and Bonnie Pointer began performing as a duo in clubs in and around the Oakland area in 1969. Sister, Anita Pointer joined shortly thereafter and the trio landed a record deal with Atlantic Records. The trio expanded to a quartet when sister Ruth then in 1972. The sisters changed labels to Blue Thumb Records, and put out their debut album, “The Pointer Sisters” in 1973, which met with positive responses. The sisters went on to achieve commercial success during the 1980s as a trio when Bonnie left to pursue a solo career.

The Pointer Sisters grew up listening to and singing gospel music. The sisters' parents were deeply spiritual with their father, Reverend Elton Pointer, and their mother being active in their local church. The sisters were discouraged by their parents from listening to rock and roll and the blues. Singing on a regular basis at church, the sisters were comfortable performing from an early age. June was the first sister to venture outside of the norm musically and introduced her older sisters to Elvis Presley. After graduating high school, Ruth and Anita were already married with children, Bonnie and June set their sights on a career in show business. As the duo began to build momentum, Anita quit her job to join her sisters as they began to tour with, and provide backing vocals for, Grace Slick, Sylvester James, Boz Scaggs and Elvin Bishop. It was on tour that the sisters were discovered and signed to Atlantic Records in 1971.

The sisters had little to no commercial success on Atlantic and changed labels quickly. By 1972, Ruth had also joined her sisters. After the success of their debut album, the sisters followed-up with their second offering, “That's a Plenty,” which spawned the song “Fairytale,” earning the sisters an invite to perform at Grand Ole Opry, and a Grammy Award for 'Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal' in 1975. The sisters had arrived, their fan base swelled overnight and they were a sensation. Their song would later be covered by Elvis Presley. Their fourth album, “Steppin'“ arrived in 1975 and produced another Grammy nominated single, “How Long (Betcha' Got a Chick on the Side).” By 1977, both June and Bonnie had left the group, and Ruth and Anita slowed down their schedules to accommodate their growing families. June returned to the fold in 1978 as the sisters released “Energy.”

1980 saw the sisters release the massive hit single, “He's So Shy,” which peaked at #3 on the Billboard Charts. In 1983, The Pointer Sisters released what became their biggest-selling album ever with “Break Out.” The sisters took advantage of the recently launched MTV to reach out and expose their music to new audiences. A slew of hit singles, peaking in the top ten followed throughout the 1980s, with a Grammy Award for 'Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal' for their hit single “Jump (For My Love),” and another Grammy for 'Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices' for the single “Automatic.” Towards the end of the 1980s the sisters switched over to Motown Records. The 1990s saw the sisters return to a more jazz orientated sound in their music. June was also fired from the band around this time with Wendy Edmead filling her shoes. By 2002 Issa Pointer, Ruth's daughter began performing with the Pointer Sisters in the place of June.

2002 also saw June and Bonnie performing together as a duo again. In 2008 Anita Pointer, Ruth Pointer and Issa Pointer recorded the last Pointer Sisters album to date, “The Pointer Sisters Favorites.” 2006 marked the loss of June Porter to lung cancer, which put an end to Bonnie's singing career, as she went into retirement after June's death. In 2009 Ruth and Anita announced their retirements, while Issa Pointer went on to pursue a solo career.