Sister Sledge star Kim Sledge has re-recorded her band’s disco hit We Are Family to raise money for the World Health Organisation and encourage international unity amid Covid-19.
The singer, 63, has joined with the social enterprise group The World We Want to record a new version of the 1979 track, with proceeds going to WHO’s foundation arm, including its global coronavirus response.
Celebrities, frontline workers, international leaders and members of the public will feature in a viral music video for the track, which is released on November 9.
Sledge and her sisters Debbie, Joni and Kathy formed Sister Sledge in 1971 and went on to release songs such as Lost In Music and He’s The Greatest Dancer.
We Are Family was written by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards from Chic and recorded at the famous Power Station studio in New York City, before being released in April 1979.
Speaking during an online WHO briefing on Monday, Sledge addressed the song’s lyrics and their relevance today.
The singer, from Philadelphia, who is also an ordained minister, said via video call: “What it means is very personal to me because I have two members of my family, my husband and my daughter, who are physicians, who are on the frontline.
“So already the family words are about family. But the world is a family and those words are calling us together as a family to embrace one another through this time.
“I feel that the song itself is one that has been about solidarity. It is about what families do when there are times of crisis.
“And that is come together, look out for each other, find ways to solve solutions. That makes the whole family strong.
“And this world family will be much stronger as a world family, as we embrace those words, as we attack and bring about what needs to happen, anything that conflicts and causes a problem with our world family.
“So that’s why we are family.”
Sledge will launch the new version of We Are Family on November 9 during the opening of the World Health Assembly, with a performance alongside choral singers from New York to Tonga.
The song will also launch a viral campaign with the hashtag #WeAreFamily, raising awareness of global public health needs, including emergency preparedness and outbreak response.
In an earlier statement, she said: “From the doctors and nurses on the front lines, to the paramedics and police, from the midwives and scientists to the carers for the vulnerable, the We Are Family initiative will salute each and every one with a feeling of unity, strength and solidarity in response to the unprecedented challenges the world faces as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
“There are many people who motivated me to embark on this new initiative in support of making We Are Family come to life, and who are very dedicated to finding ways to conquer this crisis.
“They include my close family friend Lou Weisbach, my Mercy Seat Ministry brothers and sisters, and all of the global healthworkers, scientists, the essential labourers, caregivers and emergency personnel around the world who have been working day and night during the pandemic in support of others.”
Natasha Mudhar, founder of The World We Want and the driving force behind the #WeAreFamily campaign, said: “We Are Family is one of the most instantly recognisable anthems in the world. The song carries such an inspiring message of unity and solidarity.
“We are certain that the We Are Family song and video initiative is being launched at the right time. It is a rallying cry for togetherness, for the strength of our global family.
“We are all together during these times.”
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation, said: “We Are Family is more than a song.
“It is a call to action for collaboration and kindness and a reminder of the strength of family and the importance of coming together to help others in times of need.”
Members of the public are being encouraged to record themselves and their families singing along to We Are Family, and share their videos online using the hashtag.
Joni Sledge died of natural causes at her home in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 10 2017 aged 60.