Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Closings and Delays

Anita Pointer of the Pointer Sisters has died at age 74

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Anita Pointer, one of the founding members of The Pointer Sisters, died over the weekend of cancer. She sang the lead in many of the group's biggest hits like "I'm So Excited." She was 74 years old. NPR's Andrew Limbong has this appreciation.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Before the awards, before the movie appearances, before the smash hit "I'm So Excited," there was a sad, broken-hearted breakup song called "Fairytale."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FAIRYTALE")

THE POINTER SISTERS: (Singing) I'll pack up all my things and walk away.

LIMBONG: Anita Pointer sang the lead and co-wrote the song with her sister Bonnie. And while other Pointer Sisters songs were indebted to jazz, "Fairytale" was almost defiantly country. The song earned them their first Grammy and got them an invitation to Nashville's famed Grand Ole Opry, which, according to Anita Pointer's own autobiography, led to protesters carrying signs that read, keep country country. Their performance was such a hit, they ended up singing "Fairytale" three more times that night.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FAIRYTALE")

THE POINTER SISTERS: (Singing) You don't love me. It's plain to see.

LIMBONG: Anita Pointer was born in 1948 in Oakland, Calif. By their commercial peak in the '80s, The Pointer Sisters proved themselves to be an agile group, with Anita singing lead on many of their hit songs from the sensual "Slow Hand"...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SLOW HAND")

THE POINTER SISTERS: (Singing) I want a man with a slow hand.

LIMBONG: ...To the bombastic "I'm So Excited."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M SO EXCITED")

THE POINTER SISTERS: (Singing) I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it.

LIMBONG: In 1995, The Pointer Sisters were part of a nationwide tour of the Broadway classic "Ain't Misbehavin'" that included a solo Anita doing a rendition of "Mean To Me."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MEAN TO ME")

ANITA POINTER: (Singing) You're mean to me.

LIMBONG: In an NPR interview with the sisters promoting the tour, Anita was asked, how did it feel to be up there on stage by herself without her sisters?

POINTER: Great.

(LAUGHTER)

POINTER: It's something different and something new and exciting. It's nice to have some difference and not have to keep doing the same thing, same thing, same thing, same thing. And we have our moments together. And each one of us have, you know, our spotlights. You know, I think that's a really wonderful thing.

LIMBONG: While we are deeply saddened by the loss of Anita, we are comforted in knowing she is now with her daughter Jada and her sisters June and Bonnie and at peace, read a statement from her family. Quote, "heaven is a more loving and beautiful place with Anita there."

Andrew Limbong, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE POINTER SISTERS SONG, "YES WE CAN CAN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.