Soundtrack Of My Life: Kathy Sledge

Legendary founding member of Sister Sledge

The first song I remember hearing

Mary Wells – ‘My Guy’

“All those Motown sounds, it’s the backbone of how I became a singer. I’d always sing them in the mirror with my sisters: my sister Carole would always be up front and she gave us the idea of wanting to sing. And later, my sisters and I did a remake of this song which became a radio hit.”

The first song I fell in love with

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Stevie Wonder – ‘Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You?)’

“I grew up listening to him and this was the first song I really fell for. I thought it was beautiful orchestration. The whole album [1972’s ‘Music Of My Mind’] was the first concept album where every song tells a story and runs into the next.”

The first album I bought

Stevie Wonder – ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’

“I shared it with my sister Kim. We were very close and we would sing every song, every lyric. It was a double album, which was the coolest thing ever. With the songs that Stevie wrote, there was a message. So not only were you singing along and enjoying it, but you were also learning while listening to these lyrics.”

The first gig I went to

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The Jackson 5 in Philadelphia, 1978

“They were equivalent to our Beatles, you know, being a young Black girl. We never really had a role model band like the Beatles. So I would say the Jackson Five.”

The song that reminds me of home

Carole King – ‘It’s Too Late’

“I seem to lean towards singers who are songwriters. I think they deliver it best. This song reminds me of Martha’s Vineyard, a really cool little island we’d go to during the summer. I’d always listen to Carole King‘s album ‘Tapestry’ there and this is the single that really takes me back to that time.”

The song that makes me want to dance

WizKid feat. Justin Bieber & Tems – ‘Essence’

“Kristen, my daughter, is really on top of music. We have this ongoing thing where she introduces me to something more relevant, then I’ll introduce her to something more classic. So I would say those are the songs that I’m really leaning towards now. I love ‘Essence’ by WizKid. And I love this whole Afrobeat [vibe] in modern music: so much so that I’ve reached out to some friends in Nairobi and I’m gonna do some Afrobeat music as well. I’m at a place in my life where I just want to do the songs and music that I love.”

The song I wish I’d written

Janet Jackson – ‘Love Will Never Do (Without You)’

“It’s written by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who I was just in LA writing with. They’ve said they love my voice and I’m so excited to have a chance to work with my favourite producer-songwriters! And I really love this song.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Walter Hawkins & The Love Center Choir – ‘Goin’ Up Yonder’

“I’ve been asked to sing at funerals a lot of times and it’s always this Christian song, ‘Something About His Name’, that I find very comforting and beautiful. In my culture – the way I was raised, and in my faith – people celebrate your life [when you die]. So I would also love a song that celebrates my life, something that lifts you and your spirits up. Which is why I’m choosing ‘Goin’ Up Yonder’. The choir sang it at my mother’s funeral, I think it’s rejoicing and it lifts you up. I look at funerals as homegoings: that’s what I call them.”

The song I can no longer listen to

Whitney Houston – ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)’

“There are some songs that have had so much airplay, it feels like every time you turn on the radio, they’re on. I love Whitney Houston – I love the heck out of Houston. But I remember I was on hold, and the operator or the representative that I was on hold with said to me: ‘This song is driving me crazy!’ It was playing on loop, and I was thinking the same thing! So I think I’m OK if I don’t ever hear it again.”

Sister Sledge featuring Kathy Sledge play Indigo at The 02, London on May 14

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