Joni Sledge, one of four sisters that made up the 70s girl group Sister Sledge, died on Friday.
Sledge was found unresponsive in her Phoenix home by a friend, according to the group’s publicist, Biff Warren. A cause of death has not been determined. He says she had not been ill.
She was 60.[brightcove:5161182904001 default]
“Yesterday, numbness fell upon our family. We are saddened to inform you that our dear sister, mother, aunt, niece and cousin, Joni passed away yesterday. Please pray for us as we weep for this loss. We do know that she is now eternally with Our Lord,” read a family statement.
Sister Sledge was made up of sisters Joni, Debbie, Kim and Kathy from Philly, who were best known for their 1979 dance anthem “We Are Family.” Other hits were “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and “My Guy.”
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Though they struggled to replicate their success in the 70s, the group —down to three after Kathy left in 1979— continued to perform and tour. Joni spoke to ESSENCE last year about the group’s decision to endorse Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency. They decided to lend their voices to the #HillaryforAmerica campaign.
“I was watching the television when she made the announcement that she would be the Democratic representative and I just looked at her and thought, ‘I can’t imagine what this woman has gone through to get to this position,’”Joni Sledge told ESSENCE. “Being a woman in business we must go through so much. Just everything she’s done in her 30-year history in politics, for her to do that, I was just overwhelmed. It made me feel so good that I called her agent and just said we will do whatever it takes to help her get in there.”
Joni Sledge is survived by an adult son, and her sisters.