Niagara Gazette

November 28, 2013

Pointer sister sets stage for big Saturday show at Seneca Niagara

By Thom Jennings
Night & Day

Night & Day — The Pointer Sisters grew up in Oakland Calif., in the late 1960s, an incredible era for live music. Three sisters, June, Anita and Bonnie Pointer formed a trio in 1969, and released a series of singles that failed to chart.

In 1972, Ruth Pointer joined and the group began to achieve commercial success, including a Grammy in 1975 for “Fairytale,” which won for the Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.

The Pointer Sisters appeared on the country charts again the following year with “Live Your Life Before You Die,” and shortly afterward Bonnie left to pursue a solo career.

The trio of June, Anita and Ruth achieved the greatest commercial success of any incarnation of the group, dominating the pop charts with songs like their cover version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire,” and upbeat songs like “Jump (For My Love)” and “I’m So Excited.”

The Pointer Sister’s diverse collection of songs grew out of the music they were exposed to in Oakland.

“There were lots of great clubs with live music. I remember seeing Ike and Tina Turner, Ray Charles and Little Richard. They all came through the area,” Ruth Pointer recalled during a phone interview earlier this week.

“We’ve always been very big fans of Motown artists like The Supremes, The Isley Brothers, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye were the artists we grew up admiring. Then there was Aretha Franklin, not a Motown artist but she is a musical genius. That was what we heard a lot of when we were growing up.”

The Motown influence is evident in much of the group’s songs. It wasn’t something the group planned, it was organic.

“Today it is different how artists are developed, some of them from a very early age. It didn’t happen that way for us, we were singing in my dad’s church and there was music all around us. For me it was not something that I saw as training for a career, that part just happened.”

Ruth has enjoyed a tremendous career with hit singles and Grammy Awards and nominations. Today, the group still performs as a trio; June left the group in 2004 and passed away in 2006 shortly after she was diagnosed with cancer. June was only 52 years old.

When the group performs at the Seneca Niagara Casino this Saturday they will be with Sadako Johnson, June’s granddaughter.

“It’s very special, I certainly miss my baby sister June, but I feel her spirit every night.”

Ruth Pointer’s daughter has also performed with the group over the years, making the group truly a family affair.

Ruth and her sister Anita have been performing together for over 40 years, and Ruth still has tremendous passion in her voice when she talks about performing. A passion that continues to grow.

“I have a greater appreciation for the longevity we have. I feel great emotion every time I hit the stage.” When I was young, I took it all for granted. When you get older and face mortality you have a greater appreciation for all you have, and I am just so grateful I have been able to do this for a living for so long.”

Tickets for the Pointer Sister at Seneca Niagara Casino start at $35 and are available through Ticketmaster or at The Seneca Niagara Casino box office.

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.