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26th June 2017

Niels Lan Doky Trio


Q: To the casual observer, a member of a Disco singing group performing with a Danish Jazz Trio would seem an unlikely combination; how did it come about?


DS: It was just written in the stars! (laughs). I have always loved Jazz and always wanted to do it and I had just finished my first Jazz concert at the Cotton Club in New York. I travelled to Copenhagen with my sisters for a concert – we were there with Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool and the Gang – and after the show my friend Jeanie who was the promoter brought me by to see Niels. I was in the audience enjoying the awesome concert and afterwards she introduced me to him and he invited me to sing something and that was the beginning of a series of wonderful awesome experiences with Niels.


Q: How do you adapt vocally from Sister Sledge to the trio?


DS: Well I found that I adjust my voice to whatever I’m singing and I think I’ve learned that from the singing group. Even choosing who does leads, we’ll say ‘Who’s voice can better deliver that song’ so I have a way of listening to the song and see what the song is calling for. There are certain songs that right away, you know what they are asking for and there are others that I have to figure out the best way to do them.


Q: You are adept at Soul, Disco and Jazz, are there any other genres you’ve tried or would like to try?


DS: I have tried Opera actually. There are a few arias that I learned. I couldn’t say I remember them now but that was a great experience because it gives you some other things, breathing techniques to rely on.


Q: So are we libel to see you fronting a Metal band in the near future?


DS: (laughs) No I don’t think so because I have a soft voice and I would be asking my voice to do something it doesn’t naturally do so wouldn’t be able to do it with conviction.


Sister Sledge


Q: You and your family had a terrible shock this year with Joni’s passing and the first thing I would like to say is to offer my condolences along with a lot of your Japanese fans who emailed me and asked me to do so and everybody wishes to thank you for carrying on and coming here to perform: we would have understood if you didn’t.


DS: Thank you.


Q: You will have thousands of memories of her; would you care to share just one with us that always makes you laugh or smile?


DS: Oh there are so many but actually, the last time we were here at the Blue Note with Joni she asked someone in the audience whose birthday it was because she wanted to sing Happy Birthday to them - in Japanese. Joni is very vocal and she asked the audience who to say happy birthday and the audience was cracking up because we were messing it up and she just milked it! (laughs) She’s really great at making the audience feel comfortable.


Q: Sister Sledge is Debbie, Joni, Kim and Kathy and there is a fifth sister I believe…


DS: Yes, sister Carol.


Q: Growing up, getting into the bathroom in the morning must have been a nightmare.


DS: Oh it was terrible! (laughs) First of all, if you were the oldest, you had the right to kick everybody out. Carol is the oldest, I’m second but I’m not the biggest mouth so I had to fight but it was really funny. I had to fight for space in the mirror on my own wedding day! (laughs)




Q: You’ve had the honour of playing at quite a few historic events. The first one I’d like your reminiscences of is in October 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire. That was the Ali vs Foreman fight, the Rumble in the Jungle.


DS: Yes! That was awesome!


Q: You hadn’t had any commercial success at that point…


DS: No so we were shocked that we were there but we were having a great time. We were on a private plane full of artists. James Brown who had a huge crew, The Spinners, some Latin bands, a star studded bill of performers. We were just amazed as we were young, unknown and we didn’t even have our own record out.


Q: So how did you get the gig?


DS: I don’t know…but I’m not asking because we’re there!


Q: Did you meet Ali or Foreman?


DS: Oh yes. That was a great experience too.


Q: 1974 was also the first time you were in Japan.


DS: Yes that was for the Tokyo Music Festival which was a great experience. A lot of fun and we rehearsed very hard for that. We got to meet another group of stars, Lionel Ritchie and The Commodores were there and we travelled from the USA with them. They were really funny.


Q: Dec 2000 you performed at the White House for the Clinton administration. Bill, Hilary and Chelsea got on stage…


DS: Oh yeah! That was Joni again! She’s very bold and she had them up there singing with us. Bill Clinton was right next to me singing We Are Family really loud. That was a lot of fun.


Q: You’re onstage, in the White House with the President of the USA and the First Lady, what goes through your mind at that moment?


DS: There are a lot of moments in my life where I think ‘What am I doing here? What’s going on here?’ You’re looking around and thinking ‘Wow! How did I get here?’ Being here  at the Blue Note with Niels is another one. This is great!


Q: Sep 2015 Sister Sledge performed for Pope Francis. I was raised catholic and the footage of Nuns getting down to We Are Family is priceless.


DS: Yes but I wasn’t there for that one because at the same time I had to be in Georgia for a private event so Joni and Kim with Kim’s daughter went there. They did an awesome job; I was so proud of them.


Q: One event you were noticeably absent from was Live Aid on 13th July 1985. Frankie was No.1 in the UK charts on that day; do you recall why Sister Sledge didn’t perform?


DS: I don’t know why we were in certain places and not in others. With Live Aid I don’t know. We don’t necessarily handle our schedules so I’ll just have to say that probably we were scheduled to be somewhere else.




Q: I saw a little mention of something in an interview and I apologize but I didn’t fully grasp what you were talking about: What is/are WAMOW’s?


DS: Oh right! It means Women Are the Music Of the World. That’s our new recording that we are coming out with and Joni is responsible for writing that song and she produced it and it was all prepared and ready and then she passed away. So we are regrouping and contemplating doing a little bit of re-recording. Many plans are forthcoming like a tribute because she wrote so many awesome songs. We’re really excited about that and then we are going to add more family members. Joni’s son is touring with me and my sisters now and he’s an excellent artist – we’re very proud of him. I’m so glad that he’s with us because we have the chance to look out for him.


Q: I understand that and thank you but from what I saw WAMOWs seems to be more than just a record.


DS: It is and Joni’s intention – she’s a brilliant visionary – is for it to be a movement. Our goal is to empower women and one of the things, the message we want to carry is that every woman has a strength within her. Every woman is a WAMOW but not every woman knows it so we want to get that message out. You have a strength and power inside of you and you need to find that.


Q: May I ask, does this come from personal experience as a singing group or something that you’ve noticed as you travel around the world?


DS: I’m sure it does but the actual song came about from a song that we were doing about the rhythm of the world. Kim came up with the title and a lot of pithy things come out of Kim’s mouth. She just said ‘Oh that’s a WAMOW over there’ and Joni said ‘What did you say?’ That was the beginning and a huge thrust towards a whole idea of women empowerment.


Q: You and your sisters come from an era when singing was real and performance was live. What’s your opinion of this age with programmed backing tracks, Autotune, digital manipulation and everything that goes with it – particularly live?


DS: I think there are two views: on one hand I can see how it can enhance a performance and I think that’s great but if it’s too the point where the artist is not really singing then I don’t think that’s good because not only are you robbing yourself as an artist but you’re also robbing the audience because they don’t get to know who you are and the gifts that you have and that’s the whole reason for having gifts – to give them.


Q: An excellent point. One last question: do you still have all wonderful costumes? The white one with the flared trousers that shows your midriffs?


DS: Oooooh! I’m afraid we do not. We did some costumes to the Smithsonian but a lot of our old costumes were either given away or lost in storage.


Q: Did you design those yourselves?


DS: No we had several different designers. Our very first designer I met at Joni’s funeral in Philadelphia. That was a great thing to see; there were a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time.


Q: Ms Sledge thank you very much your time and we hope to see you back here with the family very soon.


DS: Well thank you. While I’m here, my daughter Camille is taking my place and she’s excellent. You’ll see more of her in the future. She’s the lead singer in her own band as well which is an Afro-Beat band and she’s also running a school of Hip-Hop in Phoenix. If I had my way I’d have her permanently but she’s awesome.


Q: I’ll bet she is. Thank you again.


DS: Thank you.

デビー・スレッジ インタビュー2017






















DS:たくさんあって困るわね。最後にジョニと日本に来て、ブルーノートに出演した時、ジョニが客席に向かって訊いたのよ。今日、誕生日の人いる?って。彼女は日本語で「Happy Birthday」を歌ってあげたかったのよ。オーディエンスは大喝采だったわ。私たちが盛り上げて、彼女はそれに乗っかっただけだったけど!(笑)彼女はお客さんを和ませることに長けていたわ。


























DS:そうなの!ここでジョニが再登場よ!彼女は凄く大胆だから、彼女が彼らをステージに上げたの。ビル・クリントンは私の隣で「We Are Family」を熱唱したわ。とても楽しかった。





Q:2015年9月、ローマ教皇のためのコンサートにも出演しましたよね。私はカトリック信者なので、あの時観た映像の「We Are Family」は、何物にも代え難いものでした。









DS:いいわよ!あれは「Women Are the Music Of the World」の略なのよ。これをレコーディングしてリリースするところよ。ジョニが曲を書いて、プロデュースしたの。すべてが完了した時に、彼女が亡くなってしまった。それで彼女をトリビュートするために、私たちは再結成して、また何曲かを再レコーディングをしようとしているの。いっぱい計画があるのよ。彼女はいっぱい素晴らしい曲を書いてきたからね。私たちもこの計画には乗り気だし、家族をもっと引き入れようと思っているの。ジョニの息子は、私と私の娘とツアーしているし。彼は優れたアーティストよ。とても誇らしいわ。彼が加わってくれれば私も嬉しいし。彼に注目してもらういい機会になるわ。






















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