NEWS / She was the voice that commanded us to "get up and dance to the music," and the woman who Sly Stone put "on the throne" in the Family Stone hit "Dance to the Music."
But that voice has been quieted with the death of Sly and the Family Stone trumpeter, vocalist and co-founder Cynthia Robinson on Monday (Nov. 23) at the age of 69, according to her Facebook page.
Robinson's cancer diagnosis was announced in October on her Facebook page, along with the establishment of the Cynthia Robinson Cancer Care Fund. Robinson herself posted a message of thanks "to everyone who has donated. Love you all!" at the time, and the fund is remaining active "due to the rising medical costs," with a Facebook page staying active "in her memory."
Robinson was one of the first female black trumpeters to gain notoriety in a major recording act, and saxophonist Jerry Martini tells Billboard that she should never be considered a background figure. "She covered a lot of ground," he says. "She was the first female trumpet player and the first African-American trumpet player in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She wasn't in the back. She was out front telling you to get up and dance to the music, and she could blow with the best of 'em, always."
The Sacramento-born Robinson's roots ran deep in blues and R&B. She told Family Stone biographer Joel Selvin, "I used to hear all these guys on 78s at my mother's when I was a teenager...I used to daydream that I was onstage playing the solos; I'm playing with B.B. King and I'm playing with Lowell Fulsom, Jimmy McCracklin. And I literally ended up being in a band that backed them up at different clubs. It was like a dream come true, but that was as big as I could dream."
Robinson joined Stone -- who dubbed her "one of the best trumpeters in the world" -- in his Sly and the Stoners band in 1966 and stayed on board as he crafted the pop/rock/R&B synthesis that became the Family Stone. After the group's dissolution in 1975 she went on to play with bassist Larry Graham's Graham Central Station and also worked with George Clinton, Prince and as part of Sinbad's Aruba Summer Soul Festival. Since 2006 she's been part of the Family Stone with Martini and drummer Gregg Errico. The group also features her daughter with Sly Stone, Sylvette Phunne Stone, a singer and multi-instrumentalist in her own right. (Robinson had one other daughter, Laura Marie).
Robinson also sang lead vocals with her daughter on the Family Stone single "Do Yo Dance," which came out this year.
Funeral and memorial arrangements have not yet been announced. Questlove paid homage to Robinson on his Instagram, which you can see below. (Bron: Billboard.com)