The Vault of Soul: The Pointer Sisters

The Vault of Soul - Legacy of soul artists - The Pointer Sisters - WERS 88.9FM - Boston
Graphics by Grace Kinney

Each week of Black History Month, we open the 88.9 Vault of Soul, profiles of iconic soul pioneers. Continue reading to take a deep dive into the Pointer Sisters’ incredible legacy.


Living in my parent’s house, if I was awakened to the sound of “I’m So Excited" on a Sunday morning, I knew I’d be vigorously cleaning for the rest of the day. The works of the Pointer Sisters made their way through every passing generation in my family, and I align their music with every inch of my culture. The Pointer Sisters are an integral virtue of Black music and they will always be remembered for the rich soul that pours from their discography. 

- Ash Jones, Staff Writer


By Ash Jones 


With origins as a duo, the Pointer Sisters grew into a trailblazing trio for Black girl groups to aspire to nationwide. Perfecting a multi genre-infused approach — blending gospel, jazz, rock, R&B and soul — the Pointer Sisters boldly served as a spark plug, providing a jolt of diversity for the music world. Braced to persevere against the prejudiced and sexist tendencies of the music industry, the sisters have gifted us with a distinct, innovative catalog to discover and rediscover. They were torchbearers for contemporary artists that include Destiny’s Child, TLC and more recently, FLO. No doubt, their creativity will continue to reverberate and be celebrated for years on end. 



Growing up in West Oakland, California, the Pointer family was a religious household that rang faithfully like a church bell. Ruth, Anita, Bonnie, June, Aaron and Fritz were brought up by Reverend Elton Pointer and Sarah Pointer. A large component of the Pointer Sisters’ musical style was influenced by the sacred melodies they sang at home and during their Sunday practice. 

After graduating from secondary school, sisters Bonnie and June desired life in the world of show business. They formed their own musical act as a duo named ‘Pointers, a Pair.’ Ruth and Anita decided to settle down with families of their own. Soon after her marriage and children, middle child Anita wanted in on the performance. She quit her job at a legal office and solidified the iconic group that’s famously recognized today. 

The Pointer Sisters stepped into the music world during the latter stages of the Civil Rights era. During the late sixties and early seventies, the Pointers trio toured and provided backing vocals for artists outside the mainstream such as Sylvester, Grace Slick and Elvin Bishop around the Bay Area. One night at the venerable club ‘Whiskey A-Go-Go,’ The Pointer Sisters backed vocals for Bishop’s main act. In the crowd stood vice-president of Atlantic Records, Jerry Wexler, who offered the ladies their first album deal.

Although the productions that were recorded at Atlantic Records didn’t bring immense commercial success, the sisters’ passions lived on. They continued their career ambitions, and oldest sister Ruth finally obliged to join the group in December of 1972.

The quartet signed with Blue Thumb Records and released their self-titled debut album, which included the hit single "Yes We Can Can." The single, written by legendary R&B writer Allen Toussaint, catapulted the sisters into the mainstream. 



Their third album, That’s a Plenty, surprisingly perked the ears of the country music scene. The track “Fairytale” generated conversation and buzz about the group, eventually leading to their nomination for best country vocal performance at the Grammys. Household names such as Elvis Presley would later cover their song. After their Grammy win in 1975, The Pointer Sisters became recognizable faces known for skillfully amalgamating a plethora of genres into a harmonious sound.

Despite their successes in Black music, their Grammy win revealed a racially-driven discourse on genre exclusivity. Refusing to concede to oppressive industry standards, they broke barriers for Black artists to expand their musical creativity. The bond of this girl group stood strong, regardless of any negative sentiments they received. The Pointer Sisters ceased to crumble. 

Most people are familiar with their stretch of achievements during the eighties. Songs such as “He’s So Shy” and “Slow Hand” reached the top of the Billboard Chart at the beginning of the decade. The works of the Pointer Sisters also transformed them into cultural figure heads. From making music on Sesame Street, to having a feature on the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack, to performing alongside Tina Turner and Micheal Jackson in charity song “We Are the World,” their influence extended far and wide. The Pointer Sisters remain leaders that shape the genesis and heart of soul music. 



The activity of the Pointer Sisters slowed down after the '90s. During the 2000s, the girls invited new family members into the group. They toured extensively, replaying beloved hits from their prime.

Founding member Anita Pointer passed away in 2022. She was preceded in death by her sisters Bonnie (2020), and June (2006). They’re survived by eldest sister Ruth, who still occasionally performs with her daughter, Issa, and granddaughter, Sadako.

The Pointer Sisters are commemorated for their music contributions and the joyous energy they always radiated on stage. 



  • Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group (Grammys, 1975) 
  • Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal (Grammys, 1985) 
  • Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices (Grammys, 1985) 
  • Favorite Band, Duo or Group–Soul/R&B (American Music Awards, 1985)
  • Favorite Group Video Artist–Soul/R&B (American Music Awards, 1985)
  • Favorite Group Video Artist–Soul/R&B (American Music Awards, 1985) 



  • “Slow Hand” (1981) 
  • “Yes We Can Can” (1973) 
  • “Neutron Dance” (1983) 
  • “I’m So Excited” (1982) 
  • “Nothin’ But a Heartache” (1979) 
  • “Jump (For My Love)” (1983) 
  • “Automatic” (1983)



When discussing the power of girl groups, the Pointer Sisters should always be in conversation. Banding together female artists to vocalize their liberation, their desires, their frustrations, is daring and admirable within itself. The Pointer Sisters served a vital role in revolutionizing anthems about femininity, and they did so as a squad of three tenacious women. 

“And do respect the women of the world. Remember, you all had mothers” — The Pointer Sisters, from “Yes We Can Can”


You can revisit past Vault of Soul articles here, featuring artists such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, and more. 

Interested in exploring the soul genre beyond the vault? Be sure to tune into 88.9 every night between 10 pm and 2 am for The Secret Spot. Or, take a deep dive into R&B, hip-hop and the legendary voices of soul alongside new and pioneering MCs by streaming ERS+.

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