Joni Sledge

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Joni Sledge
Joni Sledge.jpg
Sledge circa 1979.[1]
Joan Elise Sledge[2]

(1956-09-13)September 13, 1956
DiedMarch 10, 2017(2017-03-10) (aged 60)[3]
EducationTemple University
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • producer
  • actress
Years active1971–2017
Thaddeus E. Whyte III
(m. 1992; div. 2000)
Musical career
Associated acts

Joan Elise Sledge (September 13, 1956 – March 10, 2017[4]) 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".[5][6] Sledge died from natural causes on March 10, 2017 at age 60.[7]


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).[6] 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.[1][8][9] During her sophomore year at Temple, Sledge directed her first stage-play "Wild Flower" written by Hazel Bright and produced by Ron Alexander. 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.[6]

Personal life and death[edit]

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.[10] Sledge was found dead by a friend at her home on March 11, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. She was 60 years old.[11] Her death was originally attributed to unknown circumstances as she had no known illnesses, according to close family sources.[12] On March 14, 2017, Sledge's cause of death was ruled "natural causes".[13]



  1. ^ a b Ebony Magazine – February 1980
  2. ^ New York Times – Joni Sledge, Singer in the ‘We Are Family’ Group Sister Sledge, Dies at 60 – March 12, 2017
  3. ^ Mystery surrounds death of Sister Sledge star Joni Sledge as publicist says We Are Family singer was 'not sick' – March 12, 2017
  4. ^ Ebony – Joni Sledge, Joni Sledge, Founding Member of Sister Sledge, Has Died – March 11, 2017
  5. ^ "Sister Sledge singer Joni dies at 60". BBC News Online. BBC. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "Joni Sledge obituary". Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  7. ^ Music - News - Joni Sledge Died Of Natural Causes - March 14, 2017
  8. ^ Chicago Tribune – The Living Arts – July 11, 1976
  9. ^ Joni Sledge Acting
  10. ^ Beckett-Brown & Hodges Funeral Home — Joan Elise Sledge (1956-2017)
  11. ^ Adam Sweeting (March 12, 2017). "Joni Sledge obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  12. ^ Fox2 — Joni Sledge of Musical Group Sister Sledge dies at 60 — March 11, 2017
  13. ^ NY Daily News - Joni Sledge - Family Mourns Loss Late Disco Icon - March 17, 2017
  14. ^ The Spinners & Joni Sledge (Then Came You) 1975