LOS ANGELES — Bonnie Pointer, who in 1969 convinced three of her church-singing siblings to form the Pointer Sisters, which would become one of the biggest acts of the next two decades, died Monday. The Grammy winner died of cardiac arrest in Los Angeles, publicist Roger Neal said. She was 69."It is with great sadness that I have to announce to the fans of the Pointer Sisters that my sister, Bonnie died this morning," sister Anita Pointer said in a statement. "Our family is devastated, on behalf of my siblings and I and the entire Pointer family, we ask for your prayers at this time."
Bonnie Pointer often sang lead and was an essential member of the group through its early hits including "Yes We Can Can" and "Fairytale." She would leave for a short and modest solo career in 1977 as her sisters went on to have several mega-hits without her.
Ruth, Anita, Bonnie and June, born the daughters of a minister who also had two older sons, grew up singing in his church in Oakland, Calif.
It was Bonnie, shortly after graduating high school, who first wanted to move away from singing gospel songs into clubs to pursue a professional singing career.
She convinced younger sister June to join her, and the two began doing gigs together as a duo in 1969. Eventually they'd enlist their two older sisters, who were already married with children, to join them.
The quartet brought unique fusion of funk, soul and 1940s-style jazz, scat and pop to their act, often dressing in a retro style that resembled their forerunners the Andrews Sisters.
They worked as backup singers for Taj Mahal, Boz Scaggs, Elvin Bishop and others before releasing their self-titled debut album in 1973, and the song "Yes We Can Can," a funky anthem calling for unity and tolerance, became their breakout hit.
They followed up with "That's A Plenty," which featured an eclectic mix of musical styles ranging from jazz to gospel to pop.
Bonnie Pointer left the group in 1977, signing a solo deal with Motown Records. After making three albums for Motown, she would retire from the studio, and only perform occasionally.
In addition to Ruth and Anita, Bonnie Pointer is survived by her two older brothers, Aaron and Fritz.