Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sly and the Family Stone’s Cynthia Robinson Has Died
By Sean Fitz-Gerald

Cynthia Robinson, Sly and the Family Stone's co-founder and trumpeter, has succumbed to an ongoing battle with cancer. The news was posted on the musician's Facebook page Tuesday. She was 69. "She covered a lot of ground," Stone saxophonist Jerry Martini told Billboard, of his longtime bandmate. "She was the first female trumpet player and the first African-American trumpet player in [the] 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."

Martini's quote refers to the Stone song "Dance to the Music," in which Robinson tells the listener to do exactly that:

"I know the songs that Sly wrote still have meaning for those that are living today that weren't even around when we started playing before, in the beginning," Robinson told Huffington Post in 2013, referencing the music she performed and continued to popularize until her death. "His lyrics, to me, if you listen to them, they can form a lifestyle that will leave you a happier person, a better person on this planet. It's just lyrics to live by."

The trumpeter first teamed up with Sly Stone in 1966, staying with him as they forged music's first inter-gender, interracial group through the ’70s and ’80s. The Sacramento-born Robinson also performed and collaborated with such artists as Larry Graham, George Clinton, Prince, and her and Sly's daughter, Phunne, among others — most recently in a group simply called Family Stone (sans Sly) — in a career that spanned roughly five decades.

Upon hearing the news of her death, the Roots's Questlove uploaded a thoughtful, illuminating tribute to his Instagram, calling Robinson music's original "hypeman" and lauding her for her contributions:

Robinson is survived by her two daughters, her grandchildren, and the remaining members of her musical family. Those behind her Facebook have asked fans to continue contributing to the Cynthia Robinson Cancer Care Fund, here.

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