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    Anita Pointer, a founder of the Pointer Sisters, dead at age 74

    Anita Pointer, a founding member of the genre-spanning pop group the Pointer Sisters, died Saturday at age 74. Her publicist, Roger Neal, said she had long battled cancer.

    The Pointer Sisters helped define the sound of the early 1980s with a humid, sultry electronic sound and a brassy R&B approach. The group showed its range in recordings such as its original “I’m So Excited” and the Bruce Springsteen cover “Fire.” Anita Pointer was integral to the group’s success, writing and performing many of its best-known songs. Her fingerprints are all over the group’s work — a song on its debut album was named after her daughter Jada, who died in 2003.

    With Anita’s death, Ruth Pointer is the last living member of the four siblings who made up the original Pointer Sisters. Ruth joined the already established trio in 1972.

    Ruth, along with her brothers Aaron and Fritz and granddaughter Roxie McKain Pointer, released a statement after the death. “While we are deeply saddened by the loss of Anita, we are comforted in knowing she is now with her daughter, Jada and her sisters June & Bonnie and at peace,” the statement reads. “She was the one that kept all of us close and together for so long. Her love of our family will live on in each of us. Please respect our privacy during this period of grief and loss. Heaven is a more loving beautiful place with Anita there.”

    The Pointer Sisters won three Grammys. The first, according to the Grammy Awards website, was the award for best country vocal performance by a duo or group for 1974’s “Fairytale,” written by Anita and Bonnie Pointer.

    The country tune earned them enough credibility for the Pointer Sisters to become the first Black female group to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, according to a biography on the group’s website. Elvis Presley cut a version of “Fairytale” on one of his final albums, “Today.”

    Like Elvis, the sisters learned to sing on Sundays. They attended their father’s church in Oakland, Calif.

    The group’s 1983 album “Break Out” earned it its other two Grammys — best vocal arrangement for “Automatic” and best pop performance for “Jump (For My Love),” according to the Grammy website.

    Anita Pointer’s singing career began in 1969 after she quit her job as a secretary at a legal office, according to the group’s website. She retired from touring in 2015.

    She was a collector of African American art and memorabilia. She amassed such a collection, according to her publicist, that the entire second floor of the Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles was given to the Pointer Sisters’ “Ever After” exhibit. The last photo of Bonnie (who died in 2020), Anita and Ruth was taken at the exhibit.

    Neal, her publicist, said Anita Pointer died at 6:27 p.m. at her home in Beverly Hills surrounded by Fritz, Roxie and Ruth.

    Neal said no arrangements have been made. He provided a copy of a handwritten statement that Ruth Pointer penned to everyone who loved her sister.

    “The PAIN is SO DEEP,” she wrote. “I have no words except for a beautiful song you sang lead on, ‘Freedom.’”

    That song capped the group’s 1985 album “Contact” and includes this verse:

    I wanna take you there (freedom)

    I’m talking about freedom everywhere (freedom)

    Freedom but you, freedom but me

    Oh, freedom, freedom (oh-oh-oh)

    Let me go, let me go, let me go

    I want it now, I want it now

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