The Pointer Sisters are an American pop/R&B recording act from Oakland, California that achieved mainstream success during the 1970s and 1980s. Spanning over three decades, their repertoire has included such diverse genres as pop, disco, jazz, bebop, blues, soul, funk, dance, country and rock.
The group had its early origins when sisters June and Bonnie Pointer began performing in 1969 as “Pointers, a Pair”. The line-up grew to a quartet when Anita Pointer joined, followed by Ruth, who joined in December, 1972, right before they recorded their debut album. They achieved their greatest commercial success later as a trio consisting of Anita, June, and Ruth, after Bonnie left the group to commence a solo career in 1978.
As children in West Oakland, California, the Pointer sisters and brothers were encouraged to listen to and sing gospel music by their parents Reverend Elton and Mrs Sarah Pointer. However, they were told rock and roll and the blues were “the devil’s music”, and it was only when they were away from their watchful parents that they could sing these styles. They regularly sang at the Church Of God in West Oakland, but as the sisters grew older their love of other styles of music began to grow. When June brought home a copy of the Elvis Presley record All Shook Up, she was surprised that her mother allowed her to play it, until discovering that her mother had been pacified by the song “Crying in the Chapel” on the “B” side of the record.
After leaving school Ruth was already married with two children Faun and Malik, Anita also was married with a child Jada. Bonnie and June sought a show business career and they formed a duo, “Pointers, A Pair”. Later, Anita quit her job to join the group. They began touring and performing and provided backing vocals for artists such as Grace Slick, Sylvester James, Boz Scaggs and Elvin Bishop, and it was while supporting Bishop at a nightclub appearance in 1971, that the sisters were signed to a recording deal with Atlantic Records. The resulting singles that came from their Atlantic tenure failed to become hits but nevertheless, the sisters were enjoying their newfound recording career. The temptation to join them finally overwhelmed Ruth and in December 1972, she joined the group. The quartet signed to Blue Thumb Records and began to record their first full-fledged album.