Courtesy of the artist
Bonnie Pointer, a Grammy-winning singer and songwriter and founding member of vocal group Pointer Sisters, died at the age of 69. Her death was announced in a statement that included the memory of her older sister, Anita Pointer. “Bonnie was my best friend and we talked every day; we’ve never had a fight in our life. I miss her already and I will see her again one day. No cause was given.
The Pointer Sisters evolved from The Pointers – A Pair, a group based in San Francisco, Bonnie formed in 1969 with his younger sister, June. The duo performed R&B covers at Oakland clubs and were part of the Northern California State Youth Choir. Anita Pointer saw her sisters sing with the Fillmore West choir and immediately left her position as legal secretary to sing with them.
The Pointers grew up singing in their father’s Oakland church choir and had covert sessions of secular radio listening when their parents were away from home: Nina Simone, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Etta James. Later, the siblings worked tirelessly on their music – rehearsing, writing and arranging voices, and writing original songs – and soaking up revolutionary politics, culture, and music. that galvanize the late 60s in San Francisco.
As a trio, they channeled their eclectic musical tastes and stage experience into backup concerts for Grace Slick, Sylvester, Boz Scaggs and Elvin Bishop. Bonnie – an expressive and dynamic singer who effortlessly embraced elements of soul, pop and jazz – has particularly gravitated towards such musical versatility. “I’m the kind of person who likes to do new adventurous things – it must be a challenge for me to move on, because I don’t like being stuck in one thing,” she said. declared. Blues & Soul in 1979.
This attitude also summed up the early work of the Pointer Sisters, who resisted categorization. A first agreement with Atlantic Records went south after the label tried to push them towards simple R&B. In Fairy tale: the story of the family of pointers, Anita Pointer recalled that Bonnie was particularly convinced that the group wanted to appear eclectic: “We decided. We want to sing everything. ”
Once Sister Ruth joined the group and they found a home on the independent label Blue Thumb, the fortunes of the Sisters improved. Their self-titled debut LP, 1973, started with their first hit – a cover of Allen Toussaint’s Strutting “Yes We Can Can” – and ended just as great, with a blues-gospel version of “Wang Dang Doodle ”. In between, the Pointers tackled jazz, swing and Broadway.
The next year It’s a lot featuring the sweet country ride “Fairytale”, which Bonnie and Anita co-wrote. The song crossed the pop charts, won the best country vocal performance by a duo or group at the Grammys, and was later cut by Elvis Presley. Bonnie also co-wrote this blues album “Shaky Flat Blues” with her sisters and followed with a credit on the discreet and sensual funk kiss from 1975 “How Long (Betcha ‘Got a Chick on the Side),” another hit .
Bonnie Pointer left the group in 1977, launching a solo career with two eponymous albums. She found her biggest hits in the dance charts, reaching the top 10 with covers of Motown hits “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” and “Heaven Must Have Send You. The latter was her greatest solo success: not only did she cut a more traditional version which included a coda of her scat song, but she also designed an exuberant and revealing disco take after hearing the popular “YMCA” of the village.
“It gave me the idea to sing like that,” she said in 2013. “That’s where we got the beat and the beat. So I called Berry Gordy and told him that this is what we should do. I didn’t know I was going to scatter. It was impromptu. I just did it right now by inspiration. ”
The fifth child of the Rev. Elton Pointer and his wife, Sarah, Bonnie was born Patricia Eva Pointer in Oakland in 1950. In Fairytale: The story of the Pointer Sisters family, Anita Pointer said that the nickname Bonnie came from babysitters observing that the girl was cute like a rabbit. In an unusual twist, Bonnie herself chose to change the term affection, renaming herself Bonnie. “I like the idea of naming myself, of making myself,” she said in the book. “I’m the only one in the family with a nickname. ”
This kind of iconoclasm is said to be a hallmark of Bonnie’s life and career. She was a gifted visual artist and creative writer in addition to being a talented musician; Anita Pointer describes her as “the visionary” of the family in Fairy tale: the story of the family of pointers, while longtime Pointer Sisters producer David Rubinson added in the same book that Bonnie was “completely rebellious.” She is the spirit of assertiveness and self-confidence. She has an incredibly high energy and an intense lifestyle. ”
Pointer released another solo album, 1984 If the price is right, but then largely abandoned the registration, except for 2011 Like a Picasso. She also occasionally found her sisters to play. At the end of 2019, a fan captured Bonnie and Anita Pointer singing an impromptu version of “Fire” in a Las Vegas bar – illustrating not only their lasting vocal connection, but his extraordinary personality.
“Bonnie has always had a special following,” said Ruth Pointer in 2009. “She was the most courageous of us all; she was the smallest of us all. We would all be at the sleepy hotel and Bonnie would be on the street, partying with the fans. They loved Bonnie, honey! “