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CYNTHIA ROBINSON, 1946-2015

Cynthia Robinson, trumpeter and a founding member of Sly and the Family Stone, died 11/23. She was 69.

The only band member to continue working with Stone after the band's breakup in 1975, Robinson had been diagnosed with cancer; a fund was started in October to help foot her medical bills.

Sly and the Family Stone, which started recording for Epic Records in 1967, was the first inter-gender, interracial band of the rock era to enjoy sustained mainstream success. Robinson, who formed the horn section with saxophonist Jerry Martini, was a powerful presence on hits such as "Dance to the Music," "Life," "Everyday People" and "I Want to Take You Higher."

Stone's music, Robinson told the Huffington Post in a 2013 interview supporting the release of Sony Legacy's box set Higher!, "that was so exciting and so fulfilling within me as a person. I'm sure other members of the band felt the same things because I could see the looks on their faces, that something inside of them was waking up and joyful about them, so I knew.

"Sly always had us rehearsing and he always had something planned out that he wanted us to do. So it wasn't ever like, 'Well what should we work on?' It was never that. He always had the plan, 'This is what we're going to do today, shoop shoop shoop shoop,' and everybody's minds were in the same direction."

Robinson, who joined Graham Central Station in 1974, reuniting with former Sly bassist Larry Graham, has toured consistently with the Family Stone right up to her death.

In August, she posted on Facebook, "After all of the rigors of the road and traveling all over the world for my adoring fans I am starting to feel it. What used to be little aches and pains are pretty painful. Thanks to you all for coming out and enjoying what we do."

Questlove wrote on Instagram, "she wasn't just a screaming cheerleading foil to Sly & Freddie's gospel vocals. She was a KICK ASS trumpet player. A crucial intricate part of Sly Stone's utopian vision of MLK's America: Sly & The Family Stone were brothers & cousins. friends & enemies. black & white. male & female. saint & sinner. common man & superheroes. guarded & vulnerable. poets & punks. hip & square. She was so cool to us the day we opened up for Sly and the Family Stone - she never ever lost a step or a beat."

Robinson is survived by two daughters and several grandchildren.

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