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Ruth Pointer of the Pointer Sisters Opens Up About Loss, Sobriety and Her Exciting New Tour (EXCLUSIVE)

Find out what to expect from her "Evening of Icons" tour

When we asked Ruth Pointer, 78, to describe how she’s feeling about headlining the “Evening of Icons” tour, which kicks off on July 25th with the Spinners and The Commodores she stared singing one her band’s iconic songs, “I’m So Excited.”

The Grammy Award-winning artist is the last surviving original member of the Pointer Sisters, the stylish group of musical sisters that topped the pop charts in the ’70s and ’80s with hits like “Fire,” “He’s So Shy,” “Slow Hand” and “Jump (For My Love).”

Ruth Pointer spoke to Woman’s World about taking center stage with a new version of the Pointer Sisters, her past life in the fast lane and why she’s savoring every moment today.  

Ruth Pointer prepares to hit the road

At 78 years old, Ruth Pointer still can’t contain her enthusiasm for being in front of a crowd singing the Pointer Sisters’ iconic songs. In preparation for the 10-show concert series, which begins in Tinley Park, Illinois on July 25, and will feature all the group’s greatest hits, Pointer has dedicated her every waking moment to training for the demanding schedule that lies ahead.

Ruth Pointer onstage in 2013
Ruth Pointer onstage in 2013Getty

I do yoga in the morning and workout every Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” Ruth says. “I have a gym in my house, and I exercise by combining 30 minutes of cardio with 30 minutes of free weights.” Madonna is her go-to workout soundtrack, and in addition to regular physical activity, she says she also follows a strict diet because it gives her a lot of energy and endurance, especially on performance nights.  

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Memories of the Pointer Sisters live on

The “Evening of Icons” tour is filled with many mixed emotions for Ruth, who is the eldest Pointer Sister and the only one surviving today. “It is bittersweet,” Ruth says. “I miss them terribly, but I also know that they are proud of me that I keep going, doing what I love and sharing our music with many loyal fans.”

Ruth Pointer onstage in 2019
Ruth Pointer onstage in 2019Getty

Ruth credits her group’s massive success, which includes 15 albums, three Grammy Awards and three American Music Awards, to their harmony, which she said always came naturally.

“We did not have to rehearse it, because we knew what the other was going to sing, and it was understood how to match it,” she reveals. Prior to her sister Anita’s passing in 2022, Ruth said that her sister told her to never stop singing.

While Ruth still mourns the loss of Anita, June (who died in 2006) and Bonnie (who died in 2020) she says, “Every time I step into the spotlight, I feel them right by my side.”

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three women smiling together
The Pointer Sisters in 1974Getty

Ruth Pointer talks the new Pointer Sisters

As the saying goes, the show must go on, and Ruth knew she wasn’t ready to hang up the microphone and retire after losing her three sisters.

In 2002, Issa Pointer, Ruth’s daughter, began singing with the Pointer Sisters and in 2009, her granddaughter, Sadako Pointer, was added to the mix. “What’s amazing about Issa and Sadako joining the Pointer Sisters is that nothing was planned,” Ruth says. “We did it because for them, it was all they knew.” Ruth recalls performing at Carnegie Hall while she was eight months pregnant with Issa, while Sadako can’t remember a moment without seeing grandma sing.

“What was challenging for me, was I had to really pull myself back when they first stepped in,” Ruth says. “I had such high expectations to do what my sisters did, since they were in a league of their own.” After embracing the group’s new sound, Ruth learned to celebrate the energy Issa and Sadako bring and take pride in the different generations of fans buying tickets.  

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three women smiling; ruth pointer
The new Pointer Sisters in 2019Getty

Looking back at her early days

Ruth laughs as she recalls, “The funny thing about my career is I never had any intention of becoming a professional singer.” Her sisters were singing before her, and Ruth was the last one to enlist.

Music was in Ruth’s blood. Her father was the Pastor at the family’s church and made Ruth and her siblings join the choir, which is where their musical journey began. It wasn’t until Ruth was asked to be a backup singer at a recording session that she decided to switch paths and take singing seriously.

While some artists talk about the struggle they went through to make it, Ruth and her sisters had a very different path. “It was a fluke how we got discovered,” she says. “My sisters and I recorded our first album in San Francisco and then, coincidentally, we got booked at The Troubadour after someone canceled.”

Ruth always pays homage to her family and honors her dad, saying, “I guess being in the choir paid off.”  

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three women singing on stage
The Pointer Sisters onstage in the ’70sGetty

How Ruth Pointer figured out showbiz

Once we became professionals, we had to learn how the music industry worked,” Ruth recalls. “It was hard. It is still hard, because this business is tough.”

Unfortunately for Ruth and her sisters, many mistakes were made due to their inexperience. “We didn’t have any lawyers in the family,” she says. “We just wanted to have fun, but sadly we got taken advantage by managers and promoters who we trusted and people who did not want to pay.”

After a few missteps they found their footing and created a system to financially protect the group. Ruth credits the Pointer Sisters’ longevity to the support they get from their loyal fans and their determination to keep pushing forward and making people happy with their music.  

woman smiling and posing together
The Pointer Sisters in 1974Getty

Celebrating sobriety

Ruth, who has been married five times and has five children, takes nothing for granted. She gave birth to twins when she was 47 years old, which she said was nothing short of a miracle.

“I was a drug addict for so many years, doing cocaine, smoking crack and drinking a lot,” Ruth admits. “I only got sober in 1988, and I had beat the daylights out of my body before. Given everything I have put my body through, I have no clue how my physical self is the last one here.”

woman smiling; ruth pointer
Ruth Pointer in 2016Getty

Ruth went down a dark path and didn’t realize the damage her habits were causing. It was when she saw her oldest child start to follow in her footsteps that she knew she had to get clean.

“I heard a saying once, kids will not do what you say but they will do what you do,” she says. “When you least expect they are watching you, they are really watching every move you make.”

It was the late ’70s and Ruth described her life as a total mess. That ultimately led her to join a 12-step program, and she’s been sober and living a healthy life ever since. “I work on it every single day,” she says. “I keep moving forward. I also read inspirational books and surround myself with positive women who lift me up.” 

Ruth Pointer finds balance

In 1973, after the Pointer Sisters hit the scene with their debut album, their lives went from one extreme to another. They were constantly on the road, rehearsing and performing to sold-out crowds and for Ruth, the constant traveling began to take a toll on her personal life.

“I often think of that phrase, ‘You can have it all, but not everything all at once,’” Ruth says. Being on the road constantly contributed to her four divorces, and luckily, her mother stepped in to help with her two small children.

“I was so grateful to have my mom,” Ruth says. “But when I would get home feeling exhausted, the kids wanted my undivided attention, to go to their game, their recital, their dance performance and I was like, ‘I just want to go to bed.'”

the pointer sisters posing together
The Pointer Sisters in 1977Getty

Like most working moms, Ruth admits it was tough, and took time to figure out how to find balance. “You have to really develop a list of priorities, and sadly there is no magic formula for that.”

Today, Ruth’s children are all grown-up and thriving in their chosen fields. Ruth herself found true love and has been happily married to her 5th husband, Michael Sayles, since 1990.  

Ruth Pointer’s life has certainly had its share of ups and downs, but decades into her storied musical career, she’s surviving and thriving — and she still makes us want to get up and dance.

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