PROVIDENCE – Whenever Ali Sayles competes for the Mount St. Charles Academy track & field team, there's one voice she can distinctly hear from the crowd.
To paraphrase a few lyrics from a popular 1980s song, that person may often get “so excited that she just can't hide it.”
The face behind the voice and one of Sayles' biggest supporters this winter season and throughout her track career belongs to her mom, Ruth Pointer. That's right, the same Ruth Pointer who, along with her sisters, turned those 80s lyrics into the hit song, “I'm So Excited,” as a member of the legendary Pointer Sisters.
The famous singer, who still maintains a busy lifestyle as an entertainer, was among the spectators at the Providence Athletic Facility this past Saturday for the R.I. Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Pointer was watching her youngest daughter competing in her specialties, the high jump and 55-meter high hurdles.
“I wouldn't miss it for anything,” said the still energetic performer after the meet. “I just got on a plane from Las Vegas from doing a show myself and arrived in Boston this morning at 6 a.m. I laid down for maybe 20 minutes, wished her good luck, sent her off. I had to get here and see her do her high jump and her hurdles. She's awesome. I love her!”
Pointer was coming from an 80s revival show for Park Lane Jewelry at the Paris Hotel in Vegas. The five-hour, red-eye flight and limited winks were rewarded when mom, indeed, got to witness an “awesome” performance from her daughter. The Mount junior tied Woonsocket's Kaylnn Pitts for second in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 2 inches. Earlier in the meet, she finished third overall in the 55 hurdles where she was timed in 8.90 seconds.
To say mom was excited would be an understatement to the highest degree.
“I was screaming like a wild women,” said Pointer, now a young-looking 64 years old. “I am so proud of her. I wouldn't have missed this.”
Sayles admits her mom is one of her biggest fans while she's working her craft on the track surface.
“She's very supportive, very loud,” she said. “Oh yeah, oh yeah, she stands out.”
Pointer, who is the mother of five children, joined the pop/R&B act with her sisters in 1972. The Grammy award-winning group reached its peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s, producing 13 songs that reached the Top 20 on the Billboard 100 such as 1979's “Fire” and 1981's “Slow Hand” that hit No. 2 and 1980's “He's So Shy” and 1984's “Jump (For My Love)” that were No. 3 on the charts.
Sayles knows all about her mother's career. In fact, occasionally mom will show her some old footage from the group's early MTV days in the eighties when music videos were the staple behind the popular music channel and the Pointer Sisters gained their most notoriety.
“They're funny,” Pointer said. “I love showing them, all those hairdos and costumes.”
“They're embarrassing,” Sayles laughed.
The Pointer Sisters once entertained troops in the Persian Gulf with Bob Hope in 1991 and were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame three years later. Nowadays, Ruth Pointer performs as a solo act and occasionally with the group.
“I'm not touring really,” she said. “We do a lot of corporate dates, private shows, fifty- and sixty-year-old birthday parties. That's our audience.”
What's her thoughts on the music these days?
“I think it's exciting,” she said. “It's evolving and it keeps changing. New things keep happening, and I am just hanging on barely. The kids are getting smarter, the artist are getting smarter and more and more talented. They are younger and younger. I enjoy watching it.”
While she's proud at what her mom has accomplished, Sayles doesn't necessarily look at her as a musical icon.
“She's my mom,” she said. “She's the best mom in the world. I don't think of her like that. It doesn't faze me at all.”
Pointer moved from California to her husband Michael Sayles' hometown of Milford Mass., in the early 1990s shortly after giving birth to Ali and her twin brother, Conor, a sprinter for the Hopedale High track team.
Along with the two siblings, there are some athletic genes in the Pointer family, just not from the famous singer.
“Not so much from me,” she said. “They had different rules then. My brothers were All-American basketball stars with scholarships. My cousin was Paul Silas, who at one time played for the Boston Celtics and is now coaching the Bobcats for Michael Jordan's team. We had a very athletic family. My brother Aaron was an NFL referee for 13 years. We have always (been involved) with athletics. I figure what I do is athletic enough.”
Ruth Pointer still enjoys celebrity status. But on Saturday afternoon, it was her daughter's turn to enjoy the limelight.
“I am very proud of her,” she said. “She's athletic and a good student. She's a good daughter.”