We Are Family (song)

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"We Are Family"
File:We Are Family - Sister Sledge.jpg
Single by Sister Sledge
from the album We Are Family
B-side "Easier to Love"
Released March 18, 1979 (US)
Format 7″
Recorded 1978
Length 8:24 (album version)
Label Cotillion
  • Nile Rodgers
  • Bernard Edwards
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.[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, and was featured in both the 1996 film The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, and the 1997 film The Full Monty.

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, ie: 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 song writer/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.

Chart performance

Pop culture references

The song was used as the 1979 theme song for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who won baseball's World Series that year. The team's on-field leader, Willie Stargell, used the song as a metaphor for the team, which worked well together to beat the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles in seven games. The song was also played during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

This song was re-released in 1993 in remix form in the UK, where the original had peaked at number seven on the singles chart. An edit of a longer mix by Sure Is Pure (Danny Spencer & Kelvin Andrews) sub-titled the "Sure Is Pure Remix Edit", the single surpassed the success of the original, reaching number five in the UK and remains their third biggest hit to date in that country (after "Frankie" and the 1984 remix of "Lost in Music").

This song was featured in the films Private Benjamin (1980), Mafia! (1998), Mission: Impossible III (2006), and Madea's Family Reunion (2006).

This song is also featured on DANCE! Online, a multiplayer online casual rhythm game, and the karaoke game Karaoke Revolution Volume 2.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, The Disney Channel featured the song in a D-TV music video set entirely to clips from the cartoon short Casey Bats Again.

In 2001, the song was used for commercials promoting the video release of Recess: School's Out. The song was not featured in the film itself.

The Sure Is Pure Remix Edit was also used on the UK TV show Gladiators, as the entrance theme for the female Gladiators for the event Powerball.

A cover version of the song was used from 2007 to 2009 as the theme song (as well as before and after every station break) for the French game show Une famille en or ("A Golden Family") on the national television network TF1. This program is the French equivalent of the American game show Family Feud.

The song was used in The Wire episode Margin of Error

The phrase "we are family" was also used in the new jack swing track simply titled "Family" by the band Riff, which was faintly heard in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies.

Cover versions

Artists who have covered the song include Jump5, The Goldman Girls, Jordan Pruitt, Spice Girls, The Corrs, and Babes in Toyland. 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[18] 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 236.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Nile Roidgers in conversation, Music Matters interview, 2007, Hong Kong
  4. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  5. "We Are Family - Sister Sledge". VRT (in Dutch). Top30-2.radio2.be. Retrieved 25 July 2013. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Lescharts.com – Sister Sledge – We Are Family" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  8. "Officialcharts.de – Sister Sledge – We Are Family". GfK Entertainment.
  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. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    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. richard-mn0000018513/awards "Sister Sledge awards at Allmusic" Check |url= value (help). AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 1 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  16. http://nztop40.co.nz/chart/?chart=3868
  17. "1979 Year End". bullfrogspond.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "US right attacks SpongeBob video". BBC News. January 20, 2005. Retrieved December 27, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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