Photo: Sergio Kurhajec, Courtesy of Kathy Sledge
But at 29, I began a solo career. For once I could choose everything from my musical style to my clothing. As much as I'd loved sharing the stage with my sisters—with our '80s outfits and big hair perfectly coordinated—moving out on my own was the step I needed to take. I performed by myself for the first time at a concert in Miami. As soon as I finished my opening song and the audience stopped cheering, I noticed something: silence. In the group, I'd always relied on my sisters to talk to the crowd. It sounds silly, but that night I had to find my voice.
Each time I've performed solo over the years, I've grown more and more comfortable standing out front in the spotlight. Now I have the confidence not just to sing my old songs, which, of course, I still do, but to set bigger goals for myself, like producing and starring in a musical about jazz legend Billie Holiday. I'm working harder than I have at any time in my life, so I'm especially grateful when fans come up to me and say, "You look better now than ever." Beauty is an attitude. And I suppose I have a glow offstage and on because I'm doing exactly what I want to do. That's why I'm embracing every moment of this decade even as I look toward the next.
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