The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Armed with a spoon and a pie tin, the kids banged out a rhythm, while they blended their voices in melody. Raised in a household that didn’t exactly have a whole lot of room for it, the four little girls of the Pointer family discovered they had an irrepressible gift that would eventually blossom into a meteoric career.
The Grammy Award-winning Pointer Sisters come to Hoosier Park Saturday bringing the harmonies, energy and hit songs for which they became so well known.
Sisters Bonnie, June, Anita and Ruth were raised along with their brothers, Aaron and Fritz, by the Rev. Elton Pointer and his wife, Sarah. The reverend served at the Church of God in West Oakland, Calif. In his home, he made allowance for occasional gospel music, but that's where it stopped.
“We had wonderful parents,” said Ruth Pointer, 67. “Yeah, they were strict… That’s all there was in our home - church and going to church. That’s who we were and what we did.”
The sisters first sang for others in their dad’s church.
“We started going sort of outside of the Church of God’s musical line-up of songs. I was frustrated - they were all hymns and anthems,” said Ruth. “They were boring to me.”
The girls sometimes visited the churches of their friends where they were exposed to broader styles of music.
“The music had so much emotion and spirit,” said Ruth. One of the sisters’ favorite songs to sing in church became “The Blood,” a song Ruth said they ‘stole’ from their friend’s church.
“My father and mother loved it. They loved most everything we did musically,” said Ruth. “They were just nervous where it was going to take us.”
It did, in fact, take them a long way from life in the old two-bedroom Victorian house, jam packed with dad, mom, six kids and a grandparent, where bunk beds in the dining room helped to accommodate the crowd.
The young women recorded their first album in 1973. The Pointer Sisters chose Alain Toussant‘s “Yes We Can Can” as the song that would cinch their recording opportunity.
The very next year, The Pointer Sisters became the first black female group to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Although their music was already well-known, their faces were not, so they took the Nashville audience by surprise.
“The Church of God was predominately white. We were kind of used to it,” said Ruth. “A lot of people don’t even consider us a black group…. We’re a pop group with a white audience - which is fine with me as long as they’re clapping.”
The sisters delivered hit after hit through the ‘70s and ‘80s, even after sister Bonnie left the group in 1977 to launch a solo career. Favorites like “Jump,” “Neutron Dance,” “I’m So Excited,” “He‘s So Shy,” “Slow Hand” and “Fire” cemented The Pointer Sisters with the pop audience, permeating our homes and our cars with their voices. They delivered an astonishing breadth of styles, spanning everything from jazz to rhythm, blues, rock, pop and country.
“We had our fights in the studio over songs, believe me,” said Ruth. Nevertheless, she said that each of the sisters brought distinct traits that afforded compromise. “I miss it so much - recording. When we were recording it was a real emotionally charged, spiritual experience.”
Four decades after their first album, The Pointer Sisters continue to deliver the beloved, high energy performances of their well-known repertoire. After June Pointer’s death in 2006, members of the tight-knit family have lent their voices to complete the trio with originals Ruth and Anita.
Look for Ruth and Anita on stage Saturday at 8 p.m. at Hoosier Park, along with Ruth’s daughter, Issa Pointer.
“We sort of have a show and a pace that’s kind of like a slow burn,” said Ruth. Look for the energy to build, culminating with a set that launches with “Fire.”
“Then it’s a free for all kookoo crazy rock out house,” laughed Ruth, who continues to express both faith and gratitude as foundational to what she does. “We’ll have a good time.”
Check www.hoosierpark.com or www.ticketmaster.com for more information and tickets. Hoosier Park is located at 4500 Dan Patch Circle, Anderson.
If you go: What: The Pointer Sisters Where: Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, 4500 Dan Patch Circle, Anderson When: Saturday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m. More info: Tickets start at $30. Check the website www.hoosierpark.com or call 765-642-7223, or visit www.ticketmaster.com or call 800-745-3000 for more information or tickets.