Kim Sledge, one of the members of “We Are Family” hit maker Sister Sledge, is working on bringing the iconic band’s story to the big screen. Sledge is developing “Life Song,” a feature film about the rise to international stardom of the four musical sisters from Philadelphia.
Kim, Debbie, Joni, and Kathy Sledge achieved worldwide fame with a discography that spans jazz, soul, gospel, disco, and R&B. Their hits include “Lost in Music,” “He’s the Greatest Dancer,” and “Thinking of You,” all of which are all cleared for use in “Life Song,” Kim Sledge told Variety. The film will be based on her soon-to-be-published memoirs and has the blessing of her family.
“Music will be a great part of it, because that’s what our lives have been about,” said Sledge. The film will cover the band’s experiences rubbing shoulders with musical greats such as James Brown, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5 and Elton John. It will also take in the wider changes in U.S. society during the group’s ascendancy. “During some of the most politically transitional moments in history, we were there,” said Sledge.
The film will address transitional moments in the sisters’ own lives, including their early years at the feet of their opera-singer grandmother, Viola Hairston Williams, “learning our craft and not just to sing, but to sing at a moment’s notice or without music if we had to.”
Another key moment came when Sister Sledge performed at a festival in Zaire, in 1974, ahead of Muhammad Ali’s Rumble in the Jungle fight, alongside stars including Brown and Hugh Masekela. “There were 80,000 people, and in the middle of the concert, the sound went out,” Sledge recalled. “But we were able to exercise what our grandmother taught us, and we were able to shout and dance and clap and sing.”
Kim, Debbie and Kathy still perform as Sister Sledge. Joni died, at age 60, last year. The Sledge family’s longtime associate Lou Weisbach, chief of licensing business Merch Time, is overseeing “Life Song.” He said the film will be “a journey through a century of accomplishment – a great American story.” The family will have input as the script and casting come together.