Pride Single Stories: Sister Sledge, “We Are Family”
Itâs Pride Month, an annual event which began as a way to memorialize the Stonewall Riots of 1969, but has evolved into an opportunity for a monthlong celebration of the world's LGBT communities and their freedom to be themselves. Here at Rhino, weâre using the month to celebrate some key songs which can regularly be heard during such celebrations, and today weâre spotlighting a song by some sisters by the last name of Sledge, one in which they sang about the bond of family...but, hey, it works for communities, too!
When Sister Sledge were teamed by Atlantic Records with the production duo of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, the process of collaborating together wasnât initially an easy one, but once the group and the producers found their groove, so did the music they were making together. âWe Are Familyâ was the first song that Rodgers and Edwards had written for any group other than their own (Chic), with Rodgers reportedly writing the verses virtually verbatim from how Atlantic Records president had described Sister Sledge to him.
Apparently, the description was relatively detailed: âWe Are Familyâ came together quickly after that, with lead singer Kathy Sledge recording the lead vocals in a single take, and the song climbed to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the R&B Singles chart.
When Joni Sledge died in 2017, the website TheOutFront.com opened their obit of the singer by saying, âEvery gay man whoâs ever been on a dance floor or attended a Pride Parade knows the words to âWe are Family.â In fact, itâs practically required for getting oneâs âofficialâ Gay Card.â Before her death, however, Joni did an interview with TheGAVoice.com, and when she was asked how it made her feel that the song had become an anthem for the gay community, she gave a truly great answer.
âI asked a reporter once why the (LGBT) community embraced us so much,â said Joni. âI mean, we really get loved on by them. The reporter responded that a lot of times, (LGBT) people are ostracized by their own family members. They see us loving each other and singing about family and they feel like weâre their sisters and that this is a family. And it is. We just say to them, âThank you for sharing your love and accepting and embracing us, too.â We should all just love and embrace each other.â
Amen, Sister Sledge.
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