On this day in music history: June 9, 1979 – &…

On this day in music history: June 9, 1979 – “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on June 16, 1979. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the second consecutive chart topper and title track from the groups third album. Following the success of Chic’s self-titled debut album and the singles “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” and “Everybody Dance”, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers are offered the opportunity to work with any artist they choose on the Atlantic Records roster. Instead of opting to produce one of the labels established stars like The Rolling Stones or Bette Midler, they ask who has sold the fewest records. The Atlantic executive mentions Sister Sledge, a family vocal quartet from Philadelphia who have been with the label since 1975, but have only had minimal sales and chart success. In spite of this, the label is very fond of the group saying that “they’re good girls and feel like family to us”. That conversation provides the inspiration for what becomes Sister Sledge’s biggest hit. The main riff of “We Are Family” is inspired by a song called “Do What You Wanna Do” by Puerto Rican singer Martha Veléz. Recorded at The Power Station in New York City, lead singer Kathy Sledge delivers her lead vocal on the song in just one take, with Bernard Edwards feeding her the lyrics through her headphones one line at a time while tracking her vocals. A huge crossover smash, “We Are Family” is adopted as an anthem for various sports organizations including the Pittsburgh Pirates, and is featured in numerous films and television shows. Songwriter, producer, and musician Nile Rodgers also forms the non profit “We Are Family Foundation” in 2001 to create programs to educate and inspire people to solve problems affecting the world. “We Are Family” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.