Cynthia Robinson, a founding member of the iconic funk band Sly & the Family Stone, has passed away at 69. The news was posted on her Facebook page on Tuesday.
Just last month, Robinson announced she was diagnosed with cancer, and had set up the Cynthia Robinson Cancer Care Fund crowdfunding campaign to help with her medical bills.
The Sacramento native was a pioneer in more ways than one. A female trumpeter in a field dominated by men, she would go on to join Sly Stone’s seminal band in 1966 and become the first female trumpet player and the first African-American trumpet player in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Robinson can be heard commanding us to “get up and dance to the music” on the song ‘Dance to the Music.”
In an interview with Billboard, former bandmate Jerry Martini said Robinson could never be considered a background figure. “She wasn’t in the back. She was out front telling you to get up and dance to the music, and she could blow with the best of ’em, always,” he said.
Robinson is survived by two daughters, Laura Marie, and Sylvette “Phunne” Robinson, the latter whom she had with Sly Stone.
After Sly & the Family Stone broke up in 1975, Robinson went on to perform with the likes of George Clinton and Prince. In 2006, she reunited with bandmates to perform as The Family Stone with her daughter Phunne as lead vocalist. The group released the single “Do You Dance” earlier this year.