Bonnie Pointer, who in 1969 convinced three of her church-singing siblings to form the Pointer Sisters, which would become one of the biggest acts of the next two decades, died Monday. She was 69.

The Grammy winner died of cardiac arrest in Los Angeles, publicist Roger Neal said.

“It is with great sadness that I have to announce to the fans of the Pointer Sisters that my sister, Bonnie died this morning,” sister Anita Pointer said in a statement. “Our family is devastated, on behalf of my siblings and I and the entire Pointer family, we ask for your prayers at this time.”

Bonnie Pointer often sang lead and was an essential member of the group through its early hits including “Yes We Can Can” and “Fairytale.” She would leave for a short and modest solo career in 1977 as her sisters went on to have several mega-hits without her.

Ruth, Anita, Bonnie and June, born the daughters of a minister who also had two older sons, grew up singing in his church in Oakland, California.

It was Bonnie, shortly after graduating high school, who first wanted to move away from singing gospel songs into clubs to pursue a professional singing career.

“The Pointer Sisters would never have happened had it not been for Bonnie,” Anita Pointer said in her statement.