Cleotha Staples, 78, the eldest sibling in the influential gospel group the Staple Singers, died Thursday at her Chicago home after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for a decade, said family friend and music publicist Bill Carpenter.
The family's music career had its roots with Roebuck "Pops" Staples, a manual laborer who strummed a $10 guitar while teaching his children gospel songs to keep them entertained. They sang in church one Sunday morning in 1948, and the response convinced Pops that music was in the family's future.
Two decades later, the group became unlikely hit makers for the Stax label.
Miss Staples, known as "Cleedi," was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with her family in 1999 and received a lifetime achievement award from the Grammys in 2005.