We Are Family (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"We Are Family"
We Are Family - Sister Sledge.jpg
Artwork for German vinyl single
Single by Sister Sledge
from the album We Are Family
B-side"Easier to Love"
ReleasedApril 1979
StudioThe Power Station
(New York City, New York)
Length8:06 (album version)
3:35 (single edit)
Songwriter(s)Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers
Producer(s)Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards
Sister Sledge singles chronology
"He's the Greatest Dancer"
"We Are Family"
"Lost in Music"
Music video
Listen to "We Are Family" (Official Music Video) on YouTube

"We Are Family" is a song recorded by American vocal group Sister Sledge. Composed by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, they both offered the song to Atlantic Records; although the record label initially declined, the track was released as a single from the album of the same name in April 1979[1] and began to gain club and radio play, eventually becoming the group's signature song.[2]

"We Are Family" went gold, becoming the number 1 R&B and number 2 pop song on the American charts in 1979 (behind "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer).[3] Along with the tracks "He's the Greatest Dancer" and "Lost in Music", "We Are Family" reached number 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs.[4] In 2017, the song was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."[5] Billboard magazine named the song number 20 on their list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.[6]

Origins and meaning[edit]

"We Are Family" was the first song that Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards wrote for any act other than their own band Chic. After their first hit, "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)", Atlantic Records President Jerry L. Greenberg wanted the pair to write and produce for other acts on the label; Rodgers and Edwards did not feel confident enough to work with big, established recording artists and performers, e.g.: The Rolling Stones, Bette Midler, etc.[7] They also felt that if they worked as Greenberg had suggested, credit for a hit would just go to those established people, and Rodgers/Edwards would not gain proper notice as songwriter/producers.[7] So the pair suggested that they write and produce a song for the label's least established act; if they got a hit record, then they could take the challenge of writing for someone bigger.[7]

According to Rodgers, the verses were mostly verbatim based on how Greenberg described Sister Sledge to them when first commissioning the work.[7] Rodgers/Edwards then simply walked immediately to the studio, rearranged their notes from the meeting into lyrics, and wrote a song melody underneath them.[7] The chorus (and therefore the title) makes reference to the fact that the group are the four sisters of a family.[7]

The song has since gone on to be used more generally as an expression of solidarity in various contexts, notably as the anthem of the We Are Family Foundation, which is named after it. The lead vocals to "We Are Family" were recorded in a single take by then-19-year-old Kathy Sledge. A promotional video was filmed in 1979 which shows the group dancing to the song.

"We Are Family" became the rally song of the 1979 World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates as the Pirates came from behind to win.[8]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

Many artists have covered the song. Among the more notable versions is one by Babes in Toyland, which was a dance club hit in the U.S. It peaked at number 22 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 1995. In addition, Rodgers organized a re-recording of the song in 2001 as a benefit record for the September 11 attacks. This in turn led to his co-creation of the We Are Family Foundation, a global charity named for the song and designed to inspire and educate young people to find solutions to problems such as hunger and illiteracy that impede world peace.

Rodgers also produced a version featuring characters from popular television shows from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon and Disney such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Sesame Street, etc. This version aired on Disney Channel, Playhouse Disney, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and PBS Kids on March 11, 2002 and subsequently was commercially released on DVD in 2005 as a public service announcement to promote diversity and tolerance, but it was attacked by an evangelical group that saw SpongeBob and felt that he promoted homosexuality.[32] In December 2007, the song was announced as one of the 2008 inductees to the Grammy Hall of Fame.


  1. ^ Irvin, Jim; McLear, Colin (2000). The Mojo Collection. Edinburgh, Scotland: Canongate Books, Ltd. p. 421. ISBN 978-1-84195-973-3.
  2. ^ "Joni Sledge, member of the group Sister Sledge, dies aged 60". TheGuardian.com. The Guardian. Associated Press. March 11, 2017. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 530.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974–2003. Record Research. p. 236.
  5. ^ "National Recording Registry Picks Are "Over the Rainbow"". Library of Congress. March 29, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  6. ^ "100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time: Critics' Picks". Billboard. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Nile Roidgers in conversation, Music Matters interview, 2007, Hong Kong
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Danyel Smith, ed. (1979). "Billboard 15 June 1979". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  10. ^ "We Are Family – Sister Sledge". VRT (in Dutch). Top30-2.radio2.be. Archived from the original on 9 April 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2013. Hoogste notering in de top 30 : 1
  11. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 42, No. 22, August 10, 1979". Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  12. ^ "Lescharts.com – Sister Sledge – We Are Family" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Sister Sledge – We Are Family" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts.
  14. ^ "Chart Track: Week 14, 1979". Irish Singles Chart.
  15. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Sister Sledge" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  16. ^ "Charts.nz – Sister Sledge – We Are Family". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  17. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Sister Sledge – We Are Family". Swiss Singles Chart.
  18. ^ "Sister Sledge: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  19. ^ "Sister Sledge Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  20. ^ "Sister Sledge Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  21. ^ "Sister Sledge Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard.
  22. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles.
  23. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. February 6, 1993. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  24. ^ "Top 10 Finland" (PDF). Music & Media. March 6, 1993. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  25. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – We Are Family". Irish Singles Chart.
  26. ^ Bac-lac.gc.ca
  27. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1979 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Nztop40.co.nz. 1979-12-31. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  28. ^ Top 100 Hits of 1979/Top 100 Songs of 1979.
  29. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1979". Archived from the original on 2014-07-13. Retrieved 2016-12-25.
  30. ^ "British single certifications – Sister Sledge – We Are Family". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved January 25, 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type We Are Family in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  31. ^ "American single certifications – Sister Sledge – We Are Family". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved January 25, 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  32. ^ "US right attacks SpongeBob video". BBC News. January 20, 2005. Retrieved December 27, 2013.

External links[edit]