A Controversial Story

Joni Sledge

There were very emotional letters written to us, during the Papal visit to Philadelphia, from devoted fans who were fed up by the media coverage that we were fighting our sister, Kathy.

I want to clear this up and break our silence.

“We” were never fighting.

It takes two sides to fight. What was heard were the words of one person, and media spin. Not four.

There is no fight.

We were assaulted by the press and haters who were calling us bitter, mean, jealous, catty, and selfish for “not inviting Kathy to sing with us”.

The truth is, that my sisters, Debbie and Kim, are generous, forthright, kind, forgiving, enduring and the most unselfish people I know. There were profound and simple reasons why Kathy did not perform with us.

Kathy, left Sister Sledge in 1989, to pursue a different “solo” career, she was never “kicked out”. We gave her our blessing. Kathy has had an open invitation to rejoin Sister Sledge, but has chosen to move in another direction, there is no animosity. Aside from rare sporadic occasions, we have not performed with Kathy in many years. Sister Sledge, as three, Debbie, Joni, and Kim, has performed in 6 out of 7 continents. We have rerecorded many of our classics hits, and received critical acclaim for new released music. In fact, one of our self-produced CDs, African Eyes, won a Grammy nomination for best produced CD.

Deb and I submitted a letter to the World Meeting of Families committee as a part of a video presentation that included excerpts from our 2014 Sister Sledge world tour. We received an official invitation to perform at the event.

Contrary to what has been falsely reported, my sister Kim, did reach out to Kathy to perform with us.

We were sent a list of impossible demands days before the performance.

  • Kathy wanted her own dressing room;
  • Kathy wanted us to use her own band;
  • Kathy wanted to sing lead;
  • Kathy wanted to rename the performance as “Sister Sledge featuring Kathy Sledge”, and moreover…
  • Kathy wanted two separate entities represented on the stage.

Wow! We were willing to consider inviting her to join us in unity for this special performance, but this was not unity!

Our sole purpose was to deliver the right message , and thanks to all of you, the World Meeting of Families was so pleased that they wrote us a beautiful letter and asked our permission to air the performance for 90 days on the Internet.

Coming into Real Unity with our sister is very important to us. Deb sent a heart felt response to Kathy’s reported letter, asking her to meet us for the commencement of true reconciliation (Deb’s letter). This response was not reported until now. And we still have not received a response.

I have reached out to my sister in many ways over the years, and I am still waiting to hear from her, as a sister (Joni ‘s letter).

We chose to remain silent out of respect for the reverence of this moment in history.

We were chosen to represent our city, Philadelphia, and to represent “the love of family” to the world, during the visit of his holiness, Pope Francis. What an honor! We did not take this situation lightly. This was not the time to air family challenges.

That is why it is reprehensible to me to know that our true reputation was accosted by false accusations for media attention.

We have deep rooted love for each other, our fans and our sister, Kathy. We have spent 30 years reflecting this love in our music, our integrity and our respect for our father’s name and our mother’s legacy.

All families have challenges.

We have had myriad laborious and tough challenges with Kathy over the years.

It is not our desire to assault her character, or expose ugly details. One of the reasons we have remained silent is to protect her reputation.

It is no “joke”, we are truly family, and we refuse to allow anyone to taint its sanctity. Regardless of “media spin” or personal conflict, we will continue to reach out to our sister in love, pray for our family’s healing, and open up to you with truth and integrity.  If you have any questions, we are here to address these.

We really appreciate your loyal support and affection all of these years.

We have started this blog, Nothing Is Greater Than Love, to share stories focused on the power of Love to overcome, to answer questions, and to encourage you to open up to us. It is our “hope” to create a safe place to promote healing.

Nothing Is Greater Than Love

Joni Sledge

32 thoughts on “A Controversial Story

  1. As a Sister Sledge fan from the start, this is unfortunate. I would love to see all the sisters perform together again. Kathy’s demands do seem extreme and don’t seem humble or of a family spirit. I’m not surprised. I stand with you in loyalty and love. Sister Sledge has and continues to have a huge impact on my life.

  2. Hi Joni, I know I have been out of touch with my Fathers and Aunt Flo’s family since their deaths, but I was surprised to hear that there was an issue involving you Sisters. I have always admired the love and respect I witnessed between the four of you so I am sure things will get worked out. Joni, I am not going to ask you or anyone else why this issue arose because it is none of my business, and besides, that would take time and energy away from your real focus. I will keep you in my prayers. GBY!!!
    Love,
    Angela

  3. My heart goes out to all of the Sledge Sisters. I hope a speedy and amicable resolution happens. What a Christmas gift that would be for many. Air hugs to you my dear Joni. Hope to see you all again on this side of the pond soon.

  4. This is very eloquently written and with much discretion. Sister Sledge is a Class act. After having done all, stand… Love remains….

  5. I know that this personal perspective was not easy for my sister Joni to share. I am very proud of her and I love and admire my sister very much. Mostly I am very moved by your kindness and sensitivity and I sincerely thank you, Joy, Clayton and Mike. With love and Blessings, Debbie

  6. Just want to say thank you to Mike, Clayton, Eugene and Joy.
    I appreciate your loyalty and heartfelt,encouraging words. Deb is right,
    Love always wins!

  7. For years I wondered why my favorite group was singing as two different entities. Then I began to hear Kathy’s side of what was going on. As a fan who has admired you ladies since childhood I felt the hurt as if I was a part of your family. It has always been a dream to meet you ladies and I always wondered why aren’t the other sisters responding because I know that there are usually two sides to every story. Your blog was eloquently written and handled with the same amount of class that Sister Sledge has carried them with over the years. I thank you for taking time to address the issue and I pray that healing and unity will take place. You ladies have blessed so many families and other groups with your music for several decades. I’m sure that you’ll agree that it’s “easier to love”. Peace and blessings !!!

  8. Honesty and truth important. Thanks for your clarity and positive attitude. Why were there only two sisters on stage at pope concert? Continued success to Sister Sledge!

  9. Hello David, Thank you for your question. The answer is, that I , Debbie, was not able to attend the epic and prestigious Papal event in Philadelphia due to the fact that I was out of the country attending another, highly official and epic, private event. Both events were extremely important and meaningful for me especially. I have never been prouder of my sisters and family. I rejoiced with tears as I watched (later on CNN) their shining faces, not only leading the world in a song of unity, but in lifting up the name of Jesus in their chant, “He is the Way, the Truth, the Life”! I was so blessed and so in unity with them. Nothing is greater than Love!

  10. At this time of thanksgiving, I want to say thank you , sincerely for your encouraging words, empathy and kindness.

    Ricardo, you seem to be a beautiful and senstivive person.
    If any of our struggles have hurt you in any way, I apologize.
    We are very blessed to have loyal loving fans like you.
    David,
    To address your question about Debs absence a little further,
    We chose Debbie to represent us at a
    private event, in which a ” world leader” was in attendance, we too were very proud of her representation. (She is very modest)
    Cousin Angela
    It is so great to hear your heartfelt words. As you know, we are not the Brady Bunch, but it has been too long, I think about our fun times together, a lot., You are very special to me,and you’re right, let’s all move forward in love
    Miss uncle Donald and Mom so much
    Let’s stay in touch!
    Kisses and hugs to all of you.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Love
    Joni

  11. I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and I want to invite my sister Kathy Sledge to join in this conversation if she too wants to begin restoration and healing . There is nothing you can say or do to make me not love you Kathy!
    Hope to hear from you.
    Debbie

  12. I grew up with Sister Sledge from day one. I fell in love with there grandmother Miss Williams and ther Mom FLO. I even named my daughter Amber after Debbie ‘s baby Amber…I would like nothing more than to see the sisters get back together again as one…… I’m calling Iyanla and Oprah…lol….for real. .. LOVE YOU GIRLS

  13. I felt sooo thrilled and blessed to not only have connected with all four Sledge sisters on Facebook and meet them all on different occasions, but to have become friends with them all, a lifelong dream come true that has gone further–that they all treat me like FAMILY. And indeed there’s nothing like FAMILY. Needless to say, I love them all–Debbie, Joni, Kim, AND Kathy, and will continue to go to their shows, whether separate productions or all of them together. As I said, I love them all, nd hence I am rooting for them all. Always remember everyone: MIRACLES NEVER CEASE. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, much love and prayers to the Sledges–and to ALL!!

  14. It is always sad to hear of separation in any family. My husband tells such wonderful stories about times spent with your family when you all were in high school and just starting out. He always speaks highly of you all and the love you have for each other. I pray that God will heal every hurt and reconciliation will occur soon. Reggie and I will keep you in our prayers. GBY

  15. Greetings my Soul Sisters/Friends…I just wanted to stop by to send more Love your way…Too much is never enough!!! We are all faced with challenges, individually and collectively. We all experience obstacles in life, and we all experience the beauty that is present as well. That is the amazing thing about life. We can use each experience as a stepping stone to greater things. I do not shun darkness. I embrace it. Without it, I would not know Light. I encourage you, as I encourage myself, to move forward with Love. Move forward with Integrity & Faith. Just move forward. Thank You for all things, musically and beyond. Peace to you ALL…

  16. Hi ladies! Firstly let me say that I have loved your music for nearly 20 years ( I discovered disco at 13. ) I wish you’d come to Australia!
    Secondly thanks for clearing this up. I always hoped you were all friendly towards each other and as a journalism student, I know how things can get blown out of proportion.
    Lastly, I must express my concern about the world meeting of families support. I have heard concerning reports they are homophobic and as a lot of your fans including me are gay, I would like to know your position on this. I know you’re women of faith and I hope it’s OK to ask. ..
    much respect,
    Lloyd, Queensland, Australia

  17. Thank you for your wise and encouraging remarks Kiande! And I agree wholeheartedly that in the darkness there are “hidden treasures” that we will find if we are always looking for the light in every situation. God is good all the time! God is Love…There is Nothing Greater than Love! Continued blessings to you!

  18. Hello LLoyd Copper ,thank you! I am so grateful for you, your sincerity and for your question. Firstly let me say that it was an honor for Sister Sledge to attend the World Meeting of Families simply because we are in total support of this wonderful creation called “family” We believe our mantle is that of unity , family and reconciliation ! When God will heal and restore our family which is on a world platform, I know this will be a breakthrough for many families the world over! I do not know of the WMOF stance on homosexuality. I can only tell you that WMOF or not, as persons of faith in Jesus Christ , we try to walk in love based on the fact that each of us as human beings are extremely valuable…priceless to the point where God went through extreme measures to preserve and save – our lives! He paid the ultimate price ( for you and me! He invites us to come to Him just as we are! And He provides a “WAY” to share eternity in heaven with Him… Simply by believing on His Son Jesus! (John 3;16 ) Who are we, to not love each other? God loves us just as we are! There is nothing in our lives , no sin past, present or future that His love will not cover! Our job is just to come and invite Him into our lives. He will take over from there. Eternity begins right there in the heart of His Love!

  19. One of my friends was concerned that my use of the word “sin” might be interpreted as judgement or condemnation so I am writing this response. This is not a message about race, gender, religion, nationality, life experience, life preferences or sexuality. It’s about LOVE. Who can express in mere words, how priceless, how valuable, how loved we all are by God? He proved His love beyond measure, through all eternity once and for all. Jesus paid the full price for all of our sin and shortcomings , past present and future! Jesus cried out “It is Finished! ” God’s love is not changed by us ,our life choices or where we are in our personal life’s journey prior to coming to Him. He just wants us.. to come to Him by faith in His Son ..just as we are…right where we are! He does a miraculous transformation in us! There is no need to question whether or not we have sin or shortcomings! If we are honest, the answer is a no brainer! The scripture says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” …But the scripture gives us so much more! (see 1 John 1:9 )! We love Him because He first loved us! He IS Life!

  20. I,m so glad to see this blog , but not to happy about the conversation. Sister Sledge is my favorite group and will always be. Debbie am friends with you on Facebook and live reading your post. You even inbox me and I was so happy. You told me that I was a good dad and I had a beautiful baby. That mean’t the world to me , I showed it to all my friends at work. My dream is to meet you guys so badly. I understand family problems , we all do , we all have them. I love each of you sisters the same , I never discuss what’s going on about you guys on Facebook. I support all of you. I wish you guys would come to Orlando , I want my kids to meet you. It’s like 4 things I ever talk about ….Michael , Janet , Sister Sledge and Lavonda Pope , lol , Lavonda that’s my daughter. Remember that name and then you sledge sisters will be looking for me lol . I’m praying for you guys , I wish you all the best.

  21. I have been praying for all the Sledge sisters for years. I never knew all this was even taken place. There is a reason for everything and that is to bring
    Healing to all families especially
    in the blsck culture. I love all the
    Sledge sisters regardless of the
    differences. We all need Jesus to
    Heal our families. The media will
    Make things worse but the Sledge sisters families will continue to be in my prayers.

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