×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Nile Rodgers Talks Tonight’s We Are Family Foundation Fundraiser – Featuring Parkland Kids

Nile RodgersWe Are Family Foundation will honor The Who’s Roger Daltrey and legendary rapper LL Cool J at its Celebration Gala tonight, held at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. And while Rodgers and his long-running band Chic are completely jazzed to perform with the two honorees, he’s perhaps more excited to hear from the evening’s other guests, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 died in a mass shooting on Feb. 14.

“I want to hear what they have to say, because it’s given me a huge amount of hope to hear these voices,” he tells Variety. “I want to hear from the youth perspective. These are kids who have grown up with only two presidents: one who’s bright, level-headed, African-American and a gentleman, and the other one is like ‘Hey look at little Rocket Man [North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un] over there!” That’s what they’ve grown up with: two opposite sides of the spectrum. They’ve only seen these two guys. So it’s given me a huge amount of hope, because I had started to become somewhat disillusioned — which is why we started the organization in the first place.”

Rodgers founded We Are Family — which “creates and supports programs that promote cultural diversity while nurturing the vision, talents and ideas of young people who are  positively changing the world” — in 2001, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City.

“Three of my [friends] were in the first plane that crashed into the [World Trade Center’s] North Tower,” he says. “Obviously that was heartbreaking, and people said that I should do something to help jump-start the healing process. Every time I looked at the news, it was always tragic, horrible stuff — so I thought, ‘I started out [his musical career] at ‘Sesame Street,’ so I went to them and said, ‘Hey, I’ll give you one of my biggest copyrights — let’s collaborate.’ They loved the idea of having a song as happy as ‘We Are Family’ so that kids would see all the puppets and characters from different universes cooperating.

“But these things have very fast cycles,” he sighed. “New York had this healing, idyllic, Woodstock vibe for a few weeks — and then it was back to its old self.” Which is where the foundation started.

“It’s our annual fundraiser so we try to make it as fun as possible,” he says. “There’s a message but we try to raise money for the programs. One of them is ‘Three Dot Dash,’ which is our sort of bedrock of our org, that’s where we bring in kids for a year-long mentoring program with some pretty powerful CEOs who can help them sustain projects that they’re already working on. Like our last group of kids, just a few weeks ago, were coders with high-tech projects and they were all about sustainability: we had a kid who could said he could fire up a power grid to light up a whole city. In my opening speech I said, “If this were after the apocalypse, these people in this room would survive!”

For more information, see wearefamilyfoundation.org.

 

More Music

  • Adam Levine Cardi B

    Maroon 5 and How the Super Bowl Halftime Show Became Music's Least Wanted Gig

    Who would have thought that the Super Bowl Halftime show, an American institution watched by more than 100 million people, would become the least wanted gig in music? But thanks to the ongoing controversy concerning the NFL’s stance on a player’s right to protest, brought to the forefront by football’s top conscientious objector Colin Kaepernick, [...]

  • Mary Poppins 1964

    P.L. Travers' Efforts to Adapt 'Mary Poppins' for Film, TV Were Often Less Than Jolly

    Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” a sequel decades in the making, opens Dec. 19. Even before the 1964 original, Hollywood made several attempts to adapt P.L. Travers’ books, with Samuel Goldwyn and Katharine Hepburn among those involved in the chase. But aside from a one-hour 1949 CBS television version, they all hit a dead-end. The first [...]

  • Stevie Nicks Fleetwood Mac in concert

    Hall of Famer Stevie Nicks Thanks Jimmy Iovine for Talking Her Into Solo Career

    Stevie Nicks had a monumental Thursday, starting the day by being elected to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as a solo artist and ending it onstage with Fleetwood Mac playing before a sold-out audience for the second of three nights at the Forum. During the show, Nicks addressed her big news that day, [...]

  • Kanye West

    Kanye West Accuses Drake of 'Threatening' His Family in Epic Twitter Binge

    Kanye West re-ignited his feud with Drake on Thursday night, accusing the rapper of “threatening” his family in a dozens-long Twitter binge on Thursday night. The latest installment of the saga between the former friends — which flared up most dramatically back in May when Pusha T revealed that Drake has a son with model [...]

  • Kacey Musgraves Cardi B Janelle Monae

    The Best Albums of 2018

    Even by recent standards, these are times that try human souls. And not surprisingly, that was reflected in the music of 2018: Whether metaphorically responding to the political realities of America (“Black Panther), mimicking the ADD nature of modern culture (Terra Whack) or simply providing a distraction, however brief, from too much reality (take your [...]

  • Kamasi Washington Alejandro Escovedo Janelle Monae

    Chris Morris' 10 Best Albums of 2018

    Kamasi Washington, “Heaven and Earth” Washington has proven to be an unclassifiable asset, both in his own name and as a contributor to Kendrick Lamar’s albums, including the Pulitzer-winning “DAMN.” This second three-CD set in three years (which encompasses the “hidden” EP “The Choice”) demonstrates the tenor saxophonist’s towering ambition and further breaks down the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content