Sister Sludge: Behind the Feud of “We Are Family” Troupe

Posted September 30, 2015 by J Matthew Cobb in News

A family feud involving Kathy Sledge and Sister Sledge is exposed, right when the Pope needs them the most

Source: Getty Images

The infamous disco classic “We Are Family” may be Sister Sledge’s most recognized hit, but it isn’t exactly a reality for them behind the scenes.

In an exclusive interview for The Insider, former Sister Sledge lead singer Kathy Sledge and the voice behind such iconic SS standards like “He’s the Greatest Dancer,” “Lost in Music” and “Love Somebody Today,” revealed that her sisters have been dueling back and forth ever since she pursued a solo career back in 1989. When asked by The Insider if the group supported Kathy’s solo career, she shrugged her shoulders. When asked if she talks to her siblings on the phone, she remarked, “Not really.” And when asked if they will ever get back together as a group, her reply sent shockwaves into the media stratosphere: “I don’t think so. I know it’s hard because we are that song.”

The story gained traction after an impromptu booking at the World Meeting of Families in the City of Brotherly Love surfaced last Saturday . The live concert, which included special guest appearances by Andrea Bocelli and Aretha Franklin, was attended by Pope Francis and aired live on cable television for a world audience. Kathy, the youngest of the siblings, put out a press release regarding the matter. “Although the performance is being promoted as though all four original members of the group will be in concert, sisters Joni, Debbie and Kim have refused to allow youngest sibling Kathy, original member and iconic voice of Sister Sledge, from participating in the performance,” it read.

And more drama was exposed when Daily News columnist Jenny DeHuff approached Kathy for more details. “Sledge said that it was her idea to pitch Sister Sledge for the pope’s visit, and that it was advertised that all four sisters would be onstage,” DeHuff wrote. “She sure thought she would be, as she said her likeness was being used in ads promoting it.”

In case you didn’t know, there’s a back story to all of this. Kathy has been gigging as a solo artist since leaving the group over twenty years ago. In 2013, the group, now comprised of Debbie, Joni and Kim, eventually took Kathy to court, suing her for the use of the group’s name and barred her from using it to promote her on career. She couldn’t even say she was of or from Sister Sledge. Both parties settled out of court.

Kathy Sledge

There wasn’t exactly much reaction to the newfangled group’s performance after the papal concert, but some did decide to speak out. On the air of Philadelphia’s WDAS, on-air personality Patty Jackson claimed it was “a bad performance.”

“It was karma,” Kathy quickly replied.

“What is so interesting though…The Insider, yes I actually finally came forward with some things going on internally, [but] you don’t wanna do that. We are family people. Ironically, that Insider was supposed to come out in November. It was supposed to come out before this, and I didn’t know we were supposed to be a part of the Papal visit until after The Insider [aired]. But it all fell out the way that I think; sadly enough, sometimes when the truth is exposed with certain things, that’s the first step to healing.”

Social media went into a frenzy after the story aired, particularly when word leaked that Kathy was barred from performing on stage with her sisters before the Pope. “We witnessed the Sledge sisters reveal that the song Nile [Rodgers] and Bernard Edwards penned, is not your true persona,” wrote one commenter, Robert Goodwin. “It is a shame to watch a family allow pettiness destroy relationships. I wish the Pope would of requested the original group perform, or cancel the Sledge appearance. I hope this family will come to it’s senses, before it is too late. If you are really a family, act like one. Or at least stop singing that song.”

The group has not issued a press release or spoken about the matter to the media, but did take the time to respond to Goodwin’s post. “Let it be known we are not fighting with Kathy,” they wrote from their official Facebook page. “We love our sister and pray her healing is in motion. We have not had any part in this conversation becoming a public one. These are private, family matters. God is at work and so are we.”

For Kathy, it seems as if karma is actually working in her favor. An upcoming old-school R&B star-studded tour billed as “My Sisters and Me” will kick off on November 14 at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, CT. Karyn White, CeCe Peniston and Deniece Williams are scheduled to appear.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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