Music

The Late Bonnie Pointer of The Pointer Sisters Co-Wrote Grammy-Winning Country Hit 'Fairytale'

The Pointer Sisters performed at the celebrity Theater in Phoenix, Ariz., August 31, 1973 as part of a cross-country tour. From left are sisters: Ruth, Anita, Bonnie and June Pointer. (AP Photo)

The Pointer Sister's minor country hit turned crossover smash "Fairytale" made a historic impact beyond its stays on the country and pop charts. The Anita and Bonnie Pointer co-write from 1974 became a game-changer for the Grand Ole Opry and the Grammys.

Anita co-wrote "Fairytale," a breakup song based off personal experience, after listening to a lot of James Taylor. Yet the end result sounds way more traditional country than folk-rock, perhaps because the sisters have something in common with Linda Martell and Rissi Palmer-- They all grew up around country music before bringing black representation to the genre.

"People think because we're always trying something different we're not sincere," Bonnie told the Youngstown Vindicator in an Oct. 30, 1974 article. "Like country music. For us, it's no joke...Our folks came from Arkansas and we grew up singing country songs. It's part of us."

"Fairytale" was certainly different for the Oakland, California-based sisters. That point's driven home by its inclusion on That's a Plenty, a 1974 album that mostly features blues, jazz and show tunes covers.

In the years to come, Pointer Sisters hits like "Jump (For My Love)," "I'm So Excited" and "Neutron Dance" soundtracked the '80's while sounding nothing like the divisively pop-friendly country hits of the time (including Anita Pointer and Earl Thomas Conley's No. 2 country hit from 1986, "Too Many Times"). In fact, just one other Billboard Hot 100 entry by the Pointer Sisters, 1975's "Live Your Life Before You Die," reflected their shared bond over country music.

"Fairytale," a July 1974 release, made waves on Oct. 5. That's the day it reached No. 39 on the country charts and debuted on the all-genre Top 100, where it'd peak in December at No. 13. On Oct. 25,  the sisters made Grand Ole Opry history as the first African American vocal group to perform on country music's most hallowed stage. For their two-song segment, Anita, Bonnie and their oldest sister Ruth Pointer sang "Fairytale" and another track from That's a Plenty, "Shaky Flat Blues." Their youngest sister June Pointer sat out the Opry gig, citing physical and nervous exhaustion.

On March 1, 1975, the Pointer Sisters' crossover country hit won Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group at the 17th annual Grammy Awards. It was the first Grammy won by any all-woman vocal group in any genre. Anita and Bonnie were also nominated for songwriters award Best Country Song.

Elvis Presley a fellow pop icon with an appreciation for country music, added to the legacy of "Fairytale" by cutting his own version on March 10, 1975 at RCA's Hollywood studios.

Read More: Why Country Music Fans Love Elvis Presley

Two of the four Pointer Sisters heard on "Fairytale" have since passed away. June lost a bout with cancer in 2006 at age 52. Bonnie, whose solo career included the disco hit "Heaven Must Have Sent You" (Motown Records, 1979), passed away on June 8, 2020 in Los Angeles from cardiac arrest. She was 69 years old.

"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 June 8 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."

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The Late Bonnie Pointer of The Pointer Sisters Co-Wrote Grammy-Winning Country Hit 'Fairytale'