Joni Sledge, one of four sisters that made up the ’70s girl group Sister Sledge, died on Friday. She was 60.
Sledge was found unresponsive in her Phoenix home by a friend, according to the group’s publicist, Biff Warren. According to a statement released by the Sledge family on Wednesday, the singer died from “natural causes which arose from complications from a pre-existing condition.”
“Sister Sledge, Debbie Sledge, Kim Sledge, and family would like to express our deepest gratitude for the overwhelming outpouring of love and support to our family during this time of great loss in the wake of the transition into eternity of our beloved sister and musical icon, Joni Sledge,” read the family statement. “Our Joni was a beautiful person, a phenomenal artist and producer, a brilliant business woman and a powerhouse. Her greatest love and joy was her son Thaddeus (whom we are all very proud of), and performing live with her family.”
Though they struggled to replicate their success in the ’70s, the group —down to three after Kathy left in 1979— continued to perform and tour. Joni spoke to ESSENCE last year about the group’s decision to endorse Hillary Clinton‘s bid for the presidency. They decided to lend their voices to the #HillaryforAmerica campaign.
“I was watching the television when she made the announcement that she would be the Democratic representative and I just looked at her and thought, ‘I can’t imagine what this woman has gone through to get to this position,’”Joni Sledge told ESSENCE. “Being a woman in business we must go through so much. Just everything she’s done in her 30-year history in politics, for her to do that, I was just overwhelmed. It made me feel so good that I called her agent and just said we will do whatever it takes to help her get in there.”
Joni Sledge is survived by an adult son, and her sisters.