We Are Family (song)

"We Are Family"
Single by Sister Sledge
from the album We Are Family
B-side "Easier to Love"
Released March 18, 1979
Format 7″ vinyl single
Recorded 1978
Length 8:24 (LP version)
Label Cotillion
  • Bernard Edwards
  • Nile Rodgers
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Sister Sledge singles chronology
"He's the Greatest Dancer"
"We Are Family"
"Lost in Music"

"We Are Family" is a song by Sister Sledge, composed by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. Rodgers and Edwards 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 and quickly began to gain club and radio play.

"We Are Family" eventually went Gold, becoming the number one R&B and number two pop song on the US charts in 1979 (behind "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer).[1] Along with the tracks, "He's the Greatest Dancer" and "Lost in Music", "We Are Family" reached number one on the disco charts.[2] It was also the theme song for the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.

Origins and meaning

"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, i.e.: The Rolling Stones, Bette Midler, etc.[3] 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.[3] 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.[3]

According to Rodgers, the verses were mostly verbatim based on how Greenberg described the group to them when first commissioning the work.[3] Rodgers/Edwards then simply walked immediately to the studio, rearranged their notes from the meeting into lyrics, and wrote a song melody underneath them.[3] The chorus (and therefore the title) makes reference to the literal fact that the group are the four sisters of a family.[3] 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.

Chart performance

Weekly singles charts

Chart (1979–80) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[4] 19
Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders)[5] 20
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[6] 1
Canada Top Disco Singles (RPM) 1
France (SNEP)[7] 95
Germany (Official German Charts)[8] 26
Ireland (IRMA)[9] 20
Italy (FIMI)[10] 6
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[11] 16
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[12] 6
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[13] 6
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[14] 5
US Billboard Hot 100[15] 2
US Billboard Hot Disco Singles 1
US Cash Box Top 100[16] 2

Year-end charts

Chart (1979) Rank
Australia [17] 104
Canada 55
New Zealand [18] 41
US Billboard Hot 100 53
US Cash Box [19] 21

Cover versions

Artists who have covered the song include Jump5, The Goldman Girls, Jordan Pruitt, Spice Girls, The Corrs, 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 children's television shows such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. This version aired on Disney Channel, Playhouse Disney, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and PBS Kids as a controversial[20] 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) have remixed the song with newly re-recorded vocals by Kathy Sledge to be released on The Pacific Electronic Music label in November 2013.


  1. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 530.
  2. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 236.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Nile Roidgers in conversation, Music Matters interview, 2007, Hong Kong
  4. Danyel Smith, ed. (1979). "Billboard 15 June 1979". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  5. "We Are Family - Sister Sledge". VRT (in Dutch). Top30-2.radio2.be. Retrieved 25 July 2013. Hoogste notering in de top 30 : 1
  6. "Top Singles - Volume 42, No. 22, August 10, 1979". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  7. "Lescharts.com – Sister Sledge – We Are Family" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  8. "Offiziellecharts.de – Sister Sledge – We Are Family". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  9. "Chart Track: Week 14, 1979". Irish Singles Chart.
  10. "I singoli più venduti del 1979". HitParadeItalia (in Italian). Creative Commons. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
    10. We Are Family - Sister Sledge [#6]
  11. "Nederlandse Top 40 – Sister Sledge search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  12. "Charts.org.nz – Sister Sledge – We Are Family". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  13. "Swisscharts.com – Sister Sledge – We Are Family". Swiss Singles Chart.
  14. "Sister Sledge: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company.
  15. "Sister Sledge awards at Allmusic". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  16. Steffen Hung. "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  17. "Top Selling Singles of 1979 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Nztop40.co.nz. 1979-12-31. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  18. "US right attacks SpongeBob video". BBC News. January 20, 2005. Retrieved December 27, 2013.

External links

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
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