Sister Sledge will keep festival-goers ‘lost in the music’ in County Derry this summer

Sister Sledge (Photo: Chris Loomis)

After enjoying a meteoric rise in the 1970s at the height of the Disco era, Sister Sledge blazed the trail with hit after hit that perfectly captured the 70s zeitgeist and would stand the test of time. test of time to become truly timeless.

As the disco era would eventually die out, artists who were at the peak of the movement would fleetingly drift away from the superstar they enjoyed in their heyday, but the music stayed and eventually acted like the Bee Gees and well sure Sister Sledge would be rediscovered and heralded for the amazing music they produced. Music that time has proven is iconic in all eras.

It’s been 51 years since sisters Debbie, Joni, Kim and Kathy first took the stage as Sister Sledge. Kathy Sledge left the group in 1989 to pursue a solo career, Sister Sledge’s music has remained ingrained in popular culture and has become an anthem, especially for members of the LBGTQ+ community.

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Hits like “We are Family”, “He’s The Greatest Dancer” and “Lost in Music” are ubiquitous in discos, nightclubs, weddings and parties around the world and despite more than half a century in industry, a recent family move within the group means there are still plenty of years in the tank for the Sledge family.

Sister Sledge live performances are always a family affair, but this development now sees Debbie and Kim joined on stage by Debbie’s son and daughter, David and Camille Sledge and Joni’s son, Thaddeus Sledge, who have contributed to reinvigorate the band’s live delivery and have ensured that the Sledge legacy can last a long time.

Before bringing their brilliantly evolved live show to the Stendhal Festival in July, Debbie Sledge spoke to us about what Ballymully Cottage Farm festival-goers can expect from this performance, the importance of family throughout her personal life and work and memories of previous visits to Ireland, North and South.

“It’s been a fantastic journey,” says Debbie Sledge, “very hard to sum up in one sentence, but if I had to, it would just be love, joy and positivity.

Sister Sledge and group.

She continued, “The great thing about this new evolution of the band is the fact that in this new dynamic, we all feel there is so much more to reveal in terms of art, music, talent and talent. performance elements within it.

“Adding the Sledgendary band and family members to the group has opened up new aspects and doors of art, given us new personalities with new ideas, all waiting to be shared and discovered.”

Debbie added: “It’s definitely a bonus for us that some of the new members of our band are blood family, but over the years we’ve learned that you can have a non-blood family. , what’s really important are relationships. My definition of family would include LOVE, respect, honor, positivity, teamwork and growth. These are traits that are not limited to necessarily blood-related family, but rather a time of strong relationships.Find your tribe and think of them as family.

Stendhal Festival itself has a lot in common with Sister Sledge in that their existence has always revolved around family ties. Debbie admitted that while this aspect of the band certainly brings its own set of challenges, in the end, she says the rewards of working so closely with the family massively outweigh any family issues that come up from time to time.

“As a family, there’s definitely a unique work dynamic in any business, but I guess especially in the music industry,” Debbie laughed.

“I dare say it might have been easier at times if we weren’t family, but I wouldn’t trade the great experience we shared and the bond it generated between us for anything. Rewards are priceless.

Looking back on their career, Debbie described many of the highlights of the festival: “It feels like there’s an extra special energy that’s unique to the performances at the festival,” she said, with so many people sharing that experience together in a very open setting. It feels limitless and free, almost magical, as it should be. Just like the music we create and embrace.

She added: “At festivals, everyone is in party mode for real, they’re always so much fun.

“There are a few standout moments for me personally, The Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire, still stands out for me, it was an amazing experience.”

Zaire ’74 was a concert that brought together black American performers on stage with African performers as part of the carnival surrounding George Foreman’s now legendary fight, Mohammed Ali in 1974. Nearly 80,000 people were in attendance as Sister Sledge was joined on the bill by such luminaries as BB King, James Brown, The Pointer Sisters and Bill Withers.

From Zaire in 1974 to Northern Ireland in 2022, Sister Sledge has toured the world many times and Debbie says Ireland is one of the band’s favorite places to play.

“We love Ireland,” she said. “It’s such a beautiful country, so much nature and beauty to discover and enjoy.

“We had a lot of great gigs there, but the one that stood out to us as part of our new band was our gig alongside Bruno Mars in Dublin when we all found out that Thaddeus had a big fanbase there. , it was very fun .”

In conclusion, Debbie was looking forward to the bands’ return to Northern Ireland and their headliner at Stendhal.

“We are so thrilled to have been able to get back on stage after what the world has been through for the past two years. It’s wonderful that stages around the world have been reopened to performers and audiences, so anyone who comes to see us in Stendhal have to be ready for us to burst in. All the bands have their solo moments, of course we’ll be performing all the songs people know and love and we’ll also be playing our new single ‘Free’, which seems really fitting right now We can’t wait to see everyone at the festival.

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