Pointer Sisters | True Sisters of Soul

state_pointer_sm.jpgI’m so glad my sister bought me the Pointer Sisters’ greatest hits; it truly opened my eyes to their status as one of the most talented groups ever to grace the planet.








Whenever I engage in discussions about music, the topic often turns to soul music—real soul music. I’m talking about quality, thought-provoking, timeless lyrics matched with no less than superb, cultivated vocals of genius artists like The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight. I’m always amazed, however, that one fantabulous group is often absent from the list of greats.

In some respects, it seems like this group has been completely forgotten by critics and fans alike, treated as though they were no more than a one-hit wonder, despite their string of chart-topping gold and platinum records during the 1970s and ’80s. This multiple Grammy Award-winning group is, without a doubt, the best female soul group of all time, yet they hardly ever get their due. This marvelous and magnificent yet sorely underestimated and underappreciated group has been performing for four decades and shows no signs of slowing down now. If you haven’t already guessed their identity, the prodigious trio of ladies I’m talking about is better known collectively as the one and only Pointer Sisters.

About five years ago, I went through a phase where I would sing the Pointer Sisters’ massive hit "I’m So Excited" at the drop of a hat. It was like the song was on automatic play in my head. Part of my infectious affection for the music stemmed from its use in an advertisement campaign for the Famous-Barr department store. It seemed like every few minutes, I’d hear the commercial playing on TV; it must have run 20 times a day. Amazingly, though, I never got tired of the song; in fact, I was always "excited" to sing along.

My enthusiasm was so great that my sister decided to surprise me with a CD of the Pointer Sisters’ greatest hits. She meant it as a funny joke, her smarty pants way of telling me that, contrary to my delight, she wasn’t so excited to hear me singing "I’m So Excited." But as I sat listening to my new CD, I had a true epiphany: Not only did I like that particular song, I really, really loved the entire collection of songs by the Pointer Sisters.

Growing up in the 1980s, I was aware of several popular recordings by the group. With such huge hits as "Jump (For My Love)" and "Neutron Dance" (which was featured on the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack), the Pointer Sisters were all over the radio and MTV. But what I didn’t realize as a kid I immediately understood as an adult when I listened to their greatest hits CD for the first time: The Pointers were much more than just a pop group; they were a soul group with loads of individual talent, and each extremely talented member could really sing.

And I don’t mean the kind of singing that results from the help of over-indulgent engineering, excessive bells and whistles or "extra dope" beats that overshadow the music of so many of today’s "faux" soul singers. No, back in the day, Ruth, Anita and June Pointer simply relied on their naturally beautiful voices, perfect musical instruments for creating sweet harmonies and a unique and lasting sound all their own. Each of the singing sisters took turns singing lead on various songs, and none of their vocals ever sounded strained. From hit to hit, the ladies never disappointed. Whether they were making you dance with songs like "Jump" or encouraging you to take it easy with songs like "He’s So Shy" and "Slow Hand," the sisters from Oakland, Calif., were always in fine form. And with their 1979 recording of "Fire," the trio proved they could take a song originally written and performed by "The Boss" Bruce Springsteen and make it totally and completely their own. "Fire" was a blockbuster hit on both the pop and soul charts.

The Pointers’ sound mixes smooth jazz, blues, gospel, rock and a myriad of other genres. Sometimes it’s calm and sweet. Sometimes it’s full of funk and fire. And when they’re feeling the groove and want you to get out of your seat and join them on the dance floor, well, there’s no stopping them. No other female group can hold a candle to these ladies when it comes to pure energy and excitement, pure music that makes you feel vibrant, alive and real.

My deep love and respect for the Pointer Sisters may be fairly new, but I have no doubt it will be everlasting. I’m so glad my sister bought me the Pointer Sisters’ greatest hits; it truly opened my eyes to their status as one of the most talented groups ever to grace the planet. Had it not been for that CD, I’d probably still be living in the dark, along with millions of music lovers who fail to fully appreciate the immense contributions the Pointers have made to soul, pop, country and the entire music industry.

Discover the spectacular sounds of the Pointer Sisters for yourself today. I guarantee it’ll be one of the best music moves you’ll ever make. | Retannical D. Russell

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