Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: They were black girls…who did some country

Anita Pointer, a founding member of the pop group the Pointer Sisters, died of cancer Dec. 31 at her home in Beverly Hills. She was 74.

The Pointer Sisters helped define the sound of the early 1980s by combining a sultry electronic motif with brassy R&B. The group modeled themselves in part on the Andrews Sisters singing act of the 1940s in their retro dress style.

The New York Times wrote:

The Pointer Sisters occupied a middle point in pop history between the doo-wop innocence of the Ronettes and the stilettoed girl power of Destiny’s Child.

Anita’s voice had a lot to do with that. She sang with the speed and flavor of molasses. Though she commanded the virtuosity to trill prettily, she tended to sing too softly to sound overpowering. When she sang lead vocals, her sisters provided a melodic line on backup, and the women frequently harmonized, structuring their groovy ’70s sound along similar lines to a barbershop quartet.

They won their first Grammy Award in the category of best country vocal performance by a duo or group for “Fairytale” (1974), written by Anita and Bonnie Pointer. The country tune earned them enough credibility for the Pointer Sisters to become the first Black female group to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.

With Anita Pointer’s death, Ruth Pointer is the last living member of the four siblings who made up the original Pointer Sisters.

Anita sings lead here, when singers could really sing. She wrote the song after her romantic relationship with a San Francisco deejay who just happened to neglect telling her he was married.

But first, Ruth Pointer from May of last year…

Elvis, who would have been 88 years old on Sunday, cut a version of “Fairytale” on one of his final albums, “Today.”

From pop culture writer Jeremy Roberts:

What cannot be denied is that Presley covered it before anybody else.

While sometimes struggling to hit the high notes suggested that the song should have been tackled in a lower key, Presley nevertheless delivered the prophetic hook line, oozing unbridled intensity that wasn’t wholly evident in Anita’s vocal: “You used me, you deceived me, and you never seemed to need me, but I’ll bet you won’t forget me when I go!”

Taken at a slighter faster tempo than the Pointers’ rendition and sporting crisp lead guitar licks courtesy of (Hall of Famer James) Burton, the master was achieved after undergoing just one extended false start and two complete takes.

Anita reflected that “it was so unbelievable that someone like Elvis could relate to the story in that song and want to record it…I think Elvis did ‘Fairytale’ beautifully. I was very pleased. He really captured the emotion in his version.”

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