In celebration of Women's History Month, The Artists United held its annual “Her-Story: A Salute to Women in Music" on Tuesday to honor internationally acclaimed phenom Kathy Sledge and soulful singer-songwriter Ledisi. Sledge was presented with the Linda Creed Shining Star Award for her musical contributions both home and abroad.
A Philadelphia native, Kathy Sledge is one-fourth of the famed group Sister Sledge and sang lead on some of their most famous songs, including “He’s The Greatest Dancer” and the popular anthem “We Are Family.” When asked about the lasting impact the latter has had and if it has been surprising Sledge responded, “We couldn’t get airplay before the song came out. I remember asking (songwriter) Nile Rodgers, 'You think they’re going to play this (on the radio)?' And he said 'Baby, this is going to be huge.' We had number one hits internationally when I was 13 and 14, but here in the states we couldn’t get any airplay. So to hear it played was huge to me. And even now, the impact that it has always astounds me. I meet little kids with their moms and grandmothers, who think that the kids should know who I am. But then (the mothers or grandmothers) will sing the song, and the kids walk away with an autograph! That just blows me away.”
In attendance to pay tribute to Sledge were Grammy award-winning singing/songwriting duo Helen Bruner and Terry Jones, who led the audience in a fitting rendition of "We Are Family," with Sledge taking the stage to sing mid-performance much to the crowd’s delight.
A host of other celebrities and artists were also in attendance to perform and/or pay tribute, including spoken-word artist Nina “L.Y.R.I.S.P.E.C.T” Ball, gospel recording artist Tamika Patton, and good friend and Grammy award-nominated songwriter Carvin Haggins. Haggins, when asked what it meant to see Sledge receive her award, stated she is “the epitome of what the Shining Star award stands for. She holds the torch, maintains it, and goes out and champions for it.”
Kathy Sledge is currently working on a Billie Holiday project entitled “The Brighter Side of Day,” and explained why it is one that is very close to her heart. She has portrayed the legendary singer live on-stage in the past and is extremely passionate about Holliday’s story being told completely, without primarily focusing on the negative. “I’d like to portray her in a way she’d be proud. We know the heavy story. Marilyn Monroe had a challenging life, but we’re not reminded of it every time. I think that it is up to us to tell our stories, of our great artists, and lift them up for the legendary reasons that we know.” To find out more about Sledge, and get updates, go to her community Facebook page here.