Few artists personify the word “crossover” as well as the Pointer Sisters, who crossed genre lines during their 39-year career with hits in country, pop, jazz, R&B and gospel.
In 1974 they won their first Grammy for Best Country Performance for a Duo or Group for the song “Fairytale.” But it was their pop success during the late 1970s and '80s that saw the stylish trio of Ruth, June and Anita racking up hits with “Fire,” “He's So Shy,” “Slow Hand,” “I'm So Excited,” “Neutron Dance,” “Automatic” and “Jump (For My Love).”
Anita and Ruth lost youngest sister June in 2006 to liver cancer, but sing on with Ruth's daughter, Issa, handling June's vocals on stage.
The Pointers perform horn-laden hits Friday at Ovens Auditorium with the Charlotte Symphony. The Observer recently spoke to Ruth from her home south of Boston.
Q. Why did you decide to re-record some of your hits for the new “Favorites” CD?
So we could get paid for them for one thing. Back in the day, the way the record companies operated, a lot of us got completely overlooked when it came to the checks.
Q. How do you like working with symphonies?
It's great. When we used to record they called it “sweetening” the album when they'd add strings or horns. Nowadays people do that on computers. It's just not the same as when you turn around and see all these gifted, educated musicians playing instruments with their hands.
Q. Do you still wear matching costumes on stage?
We do some of that. It's toned down because we don't make that kind of money anymore. Those costumes were hella expensive. They were specifically designed for us. Every aspect of the costume was custom – the shoes, the jewelry. You didn't go to a store and buy any part of it. The stylist would put it together. Then you'd get the bill. We've eliminated that. We wear a lot of things right off the hanger. We try to keep the blend and fun in the clothes.
Q. Do you think wearing different variations of the same dress makes it fair that one girl doesn't stand out?
We saw the same approach with Destiny's Child.
When you're girls you're going to compete with each other on a glamour level. Everybody wants to look cute and be sexy. If one person is standing out from the other two, you just might have a problem.
Q. Did Issa record with you?
No. Just me and Anita.
Q. Was it difficult to re-create June's parts?
It was. We really missed June's voice. That was just one of those gifts. All three of us had different areas of expertise as far as our range went. June was high. I was low and Anita was in between. Anita could reach some of (June's notes), but not as easily as June did. We did what we could to make it match.
Q. Does June's absence dictate the set live list?
We haven't really attempted the '70s jazz stuff. It was a lot of work then. That would take some serious rehearsing.
Q. How do you manage rehearsal when you live on different coasts?
We don't really. We hate rehearsing. We do it at sound checks. That way we don't have to pay for a room and the band. We don't make what we use to make and we don't make the money these young kids are making.
Q. What current artists are you into?
My favorite right now is Ne-Yo. I love Keisha Cole. I'm just waiting for Whitney (Houston) to come back out and kick everybody's a--. That's my girl.