16 March 2017
He had fathered a boy in 1974. It is the sort of thing that could happen to any man
Joni Sledge, who died a week ago aged 60, and her sisters sang their biggest hit for the Pope when he visited Philadelphia. The Daily Telegraph obituary noted that “in 2015 footage of them singing ‘We Are Family’ for Pope Francis went viral when nuns in the audience danced along”.
It’s funny how such details get nailed to a life by the obituarist’s art. I suppose the sisters were booked because the theme of the gathering was the family. The lyrics of their song go: “We are family / I got all my sisters with me ... Everyone can see we’re together.” But at the time, The Philadelphia Inquirer, in the way that newspapers have of drawing attention to flies in ointment, reported that only three of the four sisters were on stage.
The missing sister, Kathy Sledge “said she was in the audience [on] Saturday night, but was denied clearance backstage or anywhere near her sisters”. Kathy had in any case left the group to go solo in 1989, so it wasn’t as though the audience, nuns or not, would have been surprised by her absence.
Get instant access NOWRegister for 6 FREE articles per month
SubscriptionsSubscribe to The Tablet from just £19.99 quarterly
3 options available
Sign up for our newsletterSign Up
Manage my subcription hereManage