Joni Sledge


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

(1956-09-13)September 13, 1956
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedMarch 10, 2017(2017-03-10) (aged 60)[3]
EducationTemple University
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • producer
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 best known as a founding member of the family vocal group Sister Sledge. The group was 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 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][7][8] During her sophomore year at Temple, she 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

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.[9] Sledge, at age 60, was found dead by a friend at her home on March 11, 2017, in Phoenix, Arizona.[10] Her death was originally attributed to unknown circumstances as she had no known illnesses, according to close family sources.[11] On March 14, 2017, Sledge's cause of death was ruled "natural causes".[12][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. March 12, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "Joni Sledge obituary". March 12, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  7. ^ Chicago Tribune – The Living Arts – July 11, 1976
  8. ^ Joni Sledge Acting
  9. ^ Beckett-Brown & Hodges Funeral Home — Joan Elise Sledge (1956–2017)
  10. ^ Adam Sweeting (March 12, 2017). "Joni Sledge obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  11. ^ Fox2 — Joni Sledge of Musical Group Sister Sledge dies at 60 — March 11, 2017
  12. ^ NY Daily News – Joni Sledge – Family Mourns Loss of Late Disco Icon – March 17, 2017
  13. ^ Music – News – Joni Sledge Died Of Natural Causes – March 14, 2017
  14. ^ The Spinners & Joni Sledge (Then Came You) 1975