Wednesday, 4 March 2020. It’s Motown night at Ashford & Simpson’s Sugar Bar, New York City. The club has a surprise for Ruth Pointer, whose birthday is two weeks away. Valerie Simpson has ordered a special cake for Pointer to get the celebration started early. The evening’s co-hosts call Pointer to the stage while the band plays Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday”. Camera phones illuminate the singer from all angles as she blows out the birthday candles. Her smile casts an incandescent glow.
There’s some extra star power in the house. Cyndi Lauper crosses the room and greets Pointer at her table. “It’s so good to see you!” she exclaims — 35 years earlier, almost to the exact night, both Lauper and Pointer triumphed at the GRAMMY Awards. Their warm embrace is one of sisterhood and a mutual, unspoken understanding shared by those who’ve survived decades in the music industry with their talent and integrity intact.
Lauper is among several artists who wish Pointer well as the evening continues. Singer-songwriter Jessie J, original Ikette Joshie Jo Armstead, and former Late Show with David Letterman guitarist Felicia Collins all greet Pointer with hugs. The gathering spans generations of musicians who are unified in their respect for Pointer and the legacy she shares with her sisters Anita, June, and Bonnie. One of the Sugar Bar’s featured singers even weaves a little “You Gotta Believe” into the evening’s repertoire, paying homage to the Pointer Sisters’ performance in Michael Schultz‘s 1976 film, Car Wash ...