Sister Sledge star Kathy Sledge spills studio secrets with Chic’s Nile Rodgers
Kathy Sledge dominated the disco era with her musical sisters in Sister Sledge, and now she's spilled the studio secrets behind her former band's iconic hits like We Are Family.
The legendary soul singer, 63, shot to fame in the 1970s as a member of the family disco group Sister Sledge, who scored timeless pop tracks such as We Are Family, He's the Greatest Dancer, and Lost in Music.
The band famously worked with world renowned record producer and Chic star Nile Rodgers on a number of their hits, including We Are Family, He's the Greatest Dancer, Lost in Music and Thinking of You.
They also worked with late producer Bernard Edwards as they brewed their pop magic in the studio.
Kathy spoke exclusively to Daily Star ahead of her May 14 show at London's O2 Indigo with her band – Sister Sledge featuring Kathy Sledge.
The Sledge sister dished on the studio secrets behind Sister Sledge's greatest hits, and what it was like to join forces with genius producer Nile Rodgers.
Kathy said Nile and Bernard wanted "spontaneity" in their hits and didn't want them to sound rehearsed, which meant Kathy and her sisters weren't allowed to hear the soon-to-be hits until the moment before they sung them.
She said: "Nile Rodgers and the late Bernard Edwards had this thing where they wanted spontaneity.
"They wanted you to be spontaneous with the lyrics and with the melody and they didn't want it to sound rehearsed.
"So because of that, I wasn’t allowed to hear anything, and now I get it, of course. Because they had a vision."
Kathy revealed producing pair felt they had to "prove to the world" they could give Sister Sledge a hit as the sisterly band weren't known in the States at the time.
She said: "They had to prove to the world that they could give this, at the time, obscure group, cos we weren’t known then in the US at least.
"We were known in other countries like we were known in England from earlier hits we had like Momma Never Told Me- that was my first hit record with my sisters.
"I was 13 then. So I pretty much grew up over there touring, but over here no one knew of us."
She went on to explain Nile and Bernard had a special "formula" which involved using the same background vocals in their songs – which gave the tracks a trademark sound.
Kathy said: "Nile and Bernard had this formula that they had to use the same background vocals like Luther Vandross and Alfa Anderson and Fonzi Thornton… that was their sound. Like if you listen to We Are Family in the background and you listen to Good Times it’s the same voices.
"They didn’t want to deviate. They had to make sure that whatever they did that gave them hits was gonna give us a hit. They had to prove that."
Apparently Nile would always tell Kathy to trust him with the songs as he knew what he was doing.
The singer said: "Working with them was interesting. The word trust comes up.
"Nile used to always say to me “trust me, like we know what we’re doing” and even though I was just hearing those songs when it was time to record them, I trusted them."
She also compared Nile and Bernard to film directors.
Kathy said: "As an artist singing these songs, sometimes I look at record producers a lot like directors in film, because they have a vision of what’s gonna happen.
You know where they want to edit and cut, you know what they want the actor to do. I look at that in the same way as a lead vocalist.
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"When they give you a song, they know what they want to deliver and what it will sound like.
And until you get it right, then they’re like ‘we got this, we know what we’re gonna do with this,’ and we all go home and they go and produce the hit."
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