We Are Family (song)

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"We Are Family"
We Are Family - Sister Sledge.jpg
Single by Sister Sledge
from the album We Are Family
B-side "Easier to Love"
Released April 1979
Format 7"
Recorded 1978
Studio The Power Station
(New York City, New York)
Genre R&B, disco, soul
Length 8:20
Label Cotillion
Songwriter(s) Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers
Producer(s) Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards
Sister Sledge singles chronology
"He's the Greatest Dancer"
(1979)
"We Are Family"
(1979)
"Lost in Music"
(1979)
"He's the Greatest Dancer"
(1979)
"We Are Family"
(1979)
"Lost in Music"
(1979)

"We Are Family" is a song recorded by American vocal group Sister Sledge. The song was 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.

"We Are Family" went Gold, becoming the number-one R&B and number two pop song on the American charts in 1979 (behind "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer).[2] Along with the tracks "He's the Greatest Dancer" and "Lost in Music", "We Are Family" reached number one on the Billboard Dance Club Songs.[3] It was also the theme song for the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.

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."[4] Billboard magazine named the song number 20 on their list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.[5]

Origins and meaning[edit]

"We Are Family" was the first song that Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards wrote for any other act 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, which Rodgers and Edwards considered far too big and established, e.g.: The Rolling Stones, Bette Midler, etc.[6] Their point was that any credit of a hit for such an established act would just go to the performing bigger act, and not establish Rodgers/Edwards as songwriter/producers.[6] So the pair suggested that they write and produce a song for the label's least established act, and that if they got them a hit record, then they could take the challenge of writing for a bigger act.[6]

According to Rodgers, the verses were mostly verbatim based on how Greenberg described the group to them when first commissioning the work.[6] Rodgers/Edwards then simply walked immediately to the studio, rearranged their notes from the meeting into lyrics, and wrote a song melody underneath them.[6] The chorus (and therefore the title) makes reference to the fact that the group are the four sisters of a family.[6] 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.[citation needed]

Chart performance[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

Artists who have covered the song include Jump5, The Goldman Girls, Jordan Pruitt, Spice Girls, The Corrs, Nobody's Angel, Babes in Toyland and Lodovica Comello. Babes in Toyland's version of the song was more rock oriented and it was a left field Dance club hit in the U.S. It peaked at #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 as a controversial[24] public service announcement. In December 2007, the song was announced as one of the 2008 inductees to the Grammy Hall of Fame. Kinshuk Nath in 2009 with his own office rendition of "We Are Family". The Chipmunks and The Chipettes covered the song for the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and the movie's soundtrack. Japanese trio Home Made Kazoku covered this song in Japanese. In 2013, the Aristofreeks (Lenny Ibizarre & Max Martire) remixed the song with newly re-recorded vocals by Kathy Sledge to be released on The Pacific Electronic Music label in November 2013.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Irvin, Jim; McLear, Colin (2000). The Mojo Collection. Edinburgh, Scotland: Canongate Books, Ltd. p. 421. ISBN 978-1-84195-973-3. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 530. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974–2003. Record Research. p. 236. 
  4. ^ "National Recording Registry Picks Are "Over the Rainbow"". Library of Congress. March 29, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2016. 
  5. ^ "100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time: Critics' Picks". Billboard. Retrieved July 11, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Nile Roidgers in conversation, Music Matters interview, 2007, Hong Kong
  7. ^ Danyel Smith, ed. (1979). "Billboard 15 June 1979". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "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
  9. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 42, No. 22, August 10, 1979". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  10. ^ "Lescharts.com – Sister Sledge – We Are Family" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  11. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Sister Sledge – We Are Family". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  12. ^ "Chart Track: Week 14, 1979". Irish Singles Chart.
  13. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Sister Sledge" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  14. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Sister Sledge – We Are Family". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  15. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Sister Sledge – We Are Family". Swiss Singles Chart.
  16. ^ "Sister Sledge: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  17. ^ "Sister Sledge awards at AllMusic". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 1 June 2013. [dead link]
  18. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 221. 
  19. ^ http://www.tropicalglen.com/Archives/70s_files/19790630.html
  20. ^ Bac-lac.gc.ca
  21. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1979 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Nztop40.co.nz. 1979-12-31. Retrieved 2016-10-15. 
  22. ^ http://www.musicoutfitters.com/topsongs/1979.htm
  23. ^ http://tropicalglen.com/Archives/70s_files/1979YESP.html
  24. ^ "US right attacks SpongeBob video". BBC News. January 20, 2005. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" by McFadden & Whitehead
Billboard Hot Soul Singles number-one single
June 9, 1979
Succeeded by
"Ring My Bell" by Anita Ward
Preceded by
"I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)" by Instant Funk
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single (with "He's the Greatest Dancer" and "Lost in Music")
March 24, 1979 – March 31, 1979
Succeeded by
"Dancer" / "Dance to Dance" by Gino Soccio
Preceded by
"The Logical Song" by Supertramp
RPM Canadian Singles Chart number-one single
July 14, 1979 – July 21, 1979
Succeeded by
"Ring My Bell" by Anita Ward