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The Sledge sisters, Debra, Joni, Kim, and Kathy starting singing in church as "Mrs.Williams' Grandchildren" in their native Philadelphia, PA. Debra was the first to start school. After she joined the glee club, she come back home and taught harmony to her sisters. Sister Sledge started performing professionally in their teens. In 1971, they released their first single, under the name Sisters Sledge, on the Money Back label.
A few years later, Sister Sledge signed with Atlantic Records' Atco subsidiary. The quartet was teamed with the hit production duo of former Main Ingredient Tony "Champagne" Sylvester and Bert "Super Charts" DeCoteaux (Ben E. King's hits "Supernatural Thing," "Do It In The Name of Love"). Their first major label single, the dazzling "Love Don't Go Through No Changes On Me" -- written by Patrick Adams (Black Ivory, Inner Life, Phreek, Skipworth & Turner, Musique) and actress Fay Hauser -- b/w the tender ballad "Don't You Miss Him" was a hit, making it to number 31 R&B in late 1974. Both were included on their debut LP Circle of Love. In the group's encircled album cover photo, a teenaged, pig-tailed Kathy is all smiles. On Circle of Love's ballads "Cross My Heart," "Don't You Miss Him," and "You're Much Better Off Loving Me," there are traces of the supple earthy, sexiness that Kathy would later exhibit on such tracks as "Somebody Loves Me." The album tracks, the danceable "Circle Oo Love" and the touching Joni-lead Thom Bell/Linda Creed composed ballad "Give Into Love" received substantial radio airplay. Of note, singer Gwen Guthrie (the number one R&B hit "Aint Nothing Going on but the Rent") co-wrote with Patrick Grant Circle of Love key tracks: "Love Don't Go Through No Changes on Me," "Don't You Miss Him," "Cross My Heart," "Protect Our Love," and "Fireman" (Grant/Guthrie/Charles Sampson).
After being transferred to Atlantic's Cotillion label, Sister Sledge worked with Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay, the producers of Silver Convention who wrote most of the songs for their 1977 LP, Together. Kathy co-wrote with keyboardist Don Freeman the chunk-funky "Do the Funky Do," wrote the sambo-flavored, acoustic guitar-laced groover "Can't Mess Around With Love," and lead the group through an up-tempo version of Steve Wonder's 1967 smash "I Was Made to Love Him." Another Wonder tune, "As" was given a fast-paced treatment by the sisters and received radio airplay as an LP track. Interestingly enough, on Together was the Kunze/Levay song called "Funky Family" that could serve as a precursor to "We Are Family." The group also worked with Millie Jackson producer Brad Shapiro on the country-ish ballad "Better Days."
The hit/songwriting/production duo of guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards of Atlantic Records act Chic were told by Atlantic that they could work with any artist(s) on their roster. Rodgers and Edwards chose one of the label's lesser-known acts reasoning that if they came up with a hit for a superstar act, the act would receive the bulk of the recognition and the credit and not themselves.
Their first single with Rodgers and Edwards, issued on Atlantic's Cotillion label, was "He's the Greatest Dancer," which hit number one R&B and number two pop on Billboard's charts in spring 1979. "We Are Family," the title track of Sister Sledge's third album, had already received massive dance club and radio play when it was issued as a single, giving the group their first and only certified gold single going to number one R&B and number two pop in summer 1979. The track was adopted by the 1979 World Series-winning Pittsburgh Pirates and numerous other organizations, and it became a standard tune for family reunions. The We Are Family LP went platinum, peaking at number three pop in spring 1979.
The Rodgers/Edwards-produced follow-up LP Love Somebody Today boasted the singles: "Got to Love Somebody" b/w "Good Girl Now" (number six R&B), the perky "Reach Your Peak," and "Let's Go on Vacation." The title track to their 1981 LP All American Girls went to number three R&B in early 1981.
In 1992, Kathy Sledge signed with Epic Records as a solo artist. For her first LP, Sledge enlisted top-flight producers: Barry J.Eastmond (Freddie Jackson ,Barry White), Bryan Loren (Vesta, Benet, Mic Murphy), Lemel Humes (Miki Howard, Stephanie Mills), Donald Robinson (Eugene Wilde), Troy Taylor and Charles Farrar, and Sami McKinney (Patti Labelle). The album, Heart, featured the singles "Take Me Back to Love Again" and the ballad "All of My Love." The remix of "Take Me Back to Love Again" was a huge dance hit. The album's inspiring title track was released as a single and became a dance hit. After she left Epic, Sledge recorded several dance hits on independent and foreign labels (a cover of another song from Songs in the Key of Life, "Another Star," and the maxi CD single Another Day).
Kathy Sledge-related releases are 23 AM by Robert Miles, Ice on Fire by Elton John, and David Morales' United DJ's of America, Vol. 4. ~ Ed Hogan, Rovi