Joan Elise “Joni” Sledge (September 13, 1956 – March 10, 2017) was an American singer–songwriter, actress and producer. Sledge was best known as a founding member of the American family vocal group Sister Sledge, who were best known for their hits during the mid–1970s through the mid–1990s; most notably 1979’s “We Are Family” and “He’s The Greatest Dancer”. Sledge died from natural causes on March 10, 2017 at age 60.
Sledge was born the third of five daughters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Edwin Sledge (1923–1996), a tap dancer, and his actress wife, Florez (née Williams; 1928–2007). Described as a warm extrovert, Sledge attended Olney High School; graduating in 1974. Sledge majored in communications while in college and began acting in school productions at Temple University. During her sophomore year at Temple, Sledge produced and directed her first stageplay “WildFlower”. Sometime during her career, Sledge briefly lived in Paris, France and studied at Sorbonne University.
In addition to singing, Sledge was also a songwriter and producer; writing and producing the song “Brother, Brother Stop” for a Sister Sledge greatest hits album in 1996. Sledge’s production of their album African Eyes which was released in 1997 was nominated for a best–production Grammy.
Personal life and death
Sledge had one child, a son named Thaddeus Everett Whyte IV from her marriage to Thaddeus E. Whyte, III which was from 1992 until 2000. Sledge was found dead by a friend at her home on March 11, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona, She was 60 years old. Her death was originally considered due to unknown circumstances as she didn’t have any known illnesses, according to close family sources. On March 14, 2017, Sledge’s cause of death was ruled “natural causes”.
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