by Xaque Gruber
Fresh from winning three Grammy Awards for his work with Daft Punk on their ubiquitous smash, "Get Lucky," legendary songwriter/musician/producer, Nile Rodgers, chatted about life, art and a new honor: his being selected for ICON MANN's "28 Men of Change," a groundbreaking initiative that shines a light on Black male professional leaders and philanthropists, which airs on BET throughout Black History Month. This places Rodgers in the company of fellow ICON MANN honorees Steve McQueen, Nick Cannon, Forest Whitaker, Swizz Beatz and Lee Daniels.
While everyone loves and respects Rodgers' musical contributions, many may not realize the impressive mark he has made in the philanthropic world with his We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) named for the 1979 Sister Sledge anthem he wrote and produced with his late, beloved partner and CHIC bandmate, Bernard Edwards. WAFF strives to solve some of our biggest problems through global projects that promote peace, and appreciation of cultural diversity.
Nile Rodgers' all-star We Are Family benefit recording for WAFF:
Rodgers formed the We Are Family Foundation as a direct response of the tragic events of 9/11 as a way to promote peace.
CHIC Le Freak (1979):
And boy did he make it. With CHIC, Rodgers unleashed a string of definitive club classics including Le Freak, I Want Your Love and Good Times, which played a pivotal role in the explosion of hip hop as the song's bass line and string section formed the core of Sugarhill Gang's Rapper's Delight, the first multi-platinum hip hop single. As a producer/musician, his massive parade of 1980s hits defined the decade: Let's Dance, China Girl, Modern Love (David Bowie), The Reflex, Notorious, The Wild Boys (Duran Duran), Like A Virgin, Material Girl (Madonna), Roam (The B-52s), Lay Your Hands On Me, King For A Day (The Thompson Twins), I'm Not Perfect But I'm Perfect For You (Grace Jones), The Jam Was Moving (Debbie Harry), Original Sin (INXS), Moonlighting (Al Jarreau) -- and that's just scratching the surface of his 80s work. His musical footprint in the decades to follow has been just as strong. Ever moving forward, he's currently working on a new CHIC album.
The B-52s Roam, Produced by Nile Rodgers (1989):
In 2011, Rodgers was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer, and he beat it! The blog that he kept during this chapter in his life, Planet C, is a must read for anyone struggling with cancer or a loved one with cancer. Another must read is his astonishing 2011 autobiography, Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny. Sitting up close with Rodgers, his bright smile, contagious laugh and insatiable appetite for creating music and living life, it's a wonder he was ever ill. This man created, and continues to create, the soundtrack to our lives, and he was an enormous joy to talk to. Relaxed, funny, smart, candid, inspiring. No wonder ICON MANN has chosen him as one of their "28 Men of Change." Nile Rodgers is a man of change indeed!
Nile Rodgers: The Hitmaker, BBC Documentary Film:
Learn more about We Are Family Foundation here:
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