Joni Sledge, second from right, with her fellow members of Sister Sledge in the 80s. Sledge died on Friday, aged 60. Photograph: Gijsbert 

The singer, best known for the 70s disco anthem We Are Family, was found dead in her home in Phoenix, Arizona

Joni Sledge, who with her sisters recorded the defining dance anthem We Are Family, has died, the band’s representative has said.
Sledge, 60, was found dead in her home in Phoenix, Arizona, by a friend on Friday, the band’s publicist, Biff Warren, said on Saturday. A cause of death has not been determined.

“On yesterday, numbness fell upon our family. We welcome your prayers as we weep the loss of our sister, mother, aunt, niece and cousin,” read a family statement.

Sledge and her sisters Debbie, Kim and Kathy formed the Sister Sledge in 1971 in Philadelphia, their hometown, but struggled for years before success came.

“The four of us had been in the music business for eight years and we were frustrated. We were saying: ‘Well, maybe we should go to college and just become lawyers or something other than music, because it really is tough’,” Sledge told the Guardian in an interview in 2016.
But their biggest hit would come a month later with the title track, an infectious dance anthem that celebrated their familial connection with the refrain, “We are family, I got all my sisters with me”.

While it celebrated their sisterhood, the 1979 hit so also became an anthem for female empowerment and unity. It would become their signature hit and was nominated for a Grammy. Both the song and album sold more than 1m copies.

Sister Sledge also had hits with Lost in Music, He’s the Greatest Dancer and Thinking of You – the latter in particular revered by critics. In 1985, their song Frankie became their only British No 1, though it faired less well in America, reaching No 75.

March 12, 2017
Sledge is survived by an adult son besides her sisters and other relatives.


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