Anita Pointer of The Pointer Sisters passed away on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 2022, at age 74.
The second oldest of the four singing sisters, she died surrounded by her family at her home in Beverly Hills, California. In The Pointer Sisters, Anita harmonized with her sisters Ruth (b. 1946), Bonnie (1950-2020) and June (1953-2006).
The Pointer Sisters are mainly remembered for a string of huge pop, soul, and disco hits such as “Jump (For My Love),” “I’m So Excited,” “Fire,” “Neutron Dance” and “Automatic.” But the group also made its mark in country music with “Fairytale,” and Anita Pointer sang a country smash as the duet partner of Earl Thomas Conley.
Anita Porter was born in Oakland, California in 1948. The Pointers’ parents were both from Arkansas, and the family made trips annually to visit grandparents there. Anita liked it there so much that she decided to to attend fifth, seventh and tenth grades in rural Arkansas. This is when she became influenced by country music.
The Pointer Sisters formed their act in 1969. Their first hit single was 1973’s “Yes We Can Can,” written by New Orleans R&B legend Allen Toussaint. Then came 1974’s “Wang Dang Doodle” written by blues titan Willie Dixon. Performances like these gave the group its reputation for reinvigorating classic American music styles.
This led to the honky-tonking sound of “Fairytale.” It was written by Anita with her sister Bonnie, and recorded in 1974 at the Quadraphonic Studios on Music Row. Because of “Fairytale,” The Pointer Sisters were embraced by the country-music community. With Anita singing lead, The Pointer Sisters staged their Grand Ole Opry debut on October 25, 1974. “Fairytale” won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Country Group Vocal and also received a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song.
Bonnie Pointer went solo in 1977, and Anita, Ruth and June continued as a trio. This was the lineup that scored 10 giant pop/dance hits in 1978-1988.
The biggest was “Slow Hand,” written by John Bettis and Michael Clark. The song’s demo was recorded on Music Row by future country star Pam Tillis in her “disco/soul-sister” voice so that the song could be pitched to a Black act. The Pointer Sisters took it to the upper reaches of both the soul and pop charts in 1981 and earned a Gold Record. In 1982, country superstar Conway Twitty brought the song back to Nashville and took it to No. 1 on the country charts.
Anita Pointer returned to the country hit parade as the duet partner of Earl Thomas Conley in 1986. Their single “Too Many Times” hit No. 2 on the charts as a country collaboration.
The Pointer Sisters earned a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994. After many concert seasons with her sisters, Anita retired from performing in 2015.
No cause of death nor funeral arrangements have been announced. In a statement, her family said, “She was the one that kept all of us close and together for so long….Her love of our family will live on in each of us. Heaven is a more loving, beautiful place with Anita there.”
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