You can’t listen to music today without hearing some influence from none other than the multi-talented Nile Rodgers. The guitarist, songwriter, producer, and composer has helped to craft the sound of America’s soundtrack for over four decades. Nile’s signature sound is embedded across various genres of music from Diana Ross to Madonna, David Bowie, Daft Punk, Sam Smith, and Eric Clapton. With more than 200 production credits to his name, it’s easy to see why Nile Rodgers is one of the National Museum of African American Music’s Rhapsody & Rhythm Award honorees at this year’s Celebration of Legends Gala. The Celebration of Legends benefits NMAAM’s various educational and community programs, including its Emerging Artist Series.
Record Producer, Songwriter, Musician
As the co-founder and member of the legendary group CHIC, he wrote songs like “Le Freak,” “Everybody Dance,” and “Good Times,” “I Want Your Love,” all which are still timeless hits that can get you up out of your seat dancing no matter where you are.
The song “Good Times” helped spark the hip hop movement when Sugar Hill Gang sampled the song for “Rapper’s Delight.”
The group garnered nine Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations. In 2017, Nile Rodgers was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist.
Rodgers and his late Chic band mate Bernard Edwards co-wrote and co-produced the 1979 Sister Sledge album, We Are Family, and the title track was recently selected for preservation in the Library of Congress.
Nile produced and co-wrote with Edwards Diana Ross’s 1980 hit solo album diana, including the breakout hits “I’m Coming Out,” and “Upside Down.”
He and Edwards worked with Debbie Harry, scored the soundtrack to Soup for One, and produced for Teddy Pendergrass, Johnny Mathis, and Carly Simon before dissolving their partnership in 1983.
Celebrating the Legends
Rodgers released his first solo album Adventure in the Land of the Good Groove in 1983 and his production on the late David Bowie’s bestselling album, Let’s Dance in 1983 became a worldwide hit. From that point on, Rodgers became the go-to producer for pop, dance, and rock music. HE worked with Duran Duran, INXS, and positioned Madonna for pop royalty by producing her 1984 album Like A Virgin. His second solo album B-Movie Matinee in 1985 kept him on the cutting edge of pop music as the genre evolved and he worked with artists like Michael Jackson and Grace Jones. CHIC reunited and released a new album, CHIC-ism in 1992 reintroducing the group’s music to a new crop of artists. MC Lyte and Salt-N-Pepa sampled “Upside Down,” while the Notorious B.I.G. sampled “I’m Coming Out” on his 1997 hit “Mo Money Mo Problems. Will Smith grabbed onto the hook of “He’s the Greatest Dancer” for his 1998 hit “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.”
Rodgers has also scored the soundtracks to movies like Coming to America, Beverly Hills Cop III, Rush Hour 2, and Semi-Pro to name a few. He has also put his stamp on video game soundtracks as well.
In 2013, his work with Daft Punk on the duo’s Random Access Memories won a Grammy for Album of the Year, and the lead single “Get Lucky” proved to be just that by topping the chars in 35 countries and earning Rodgers two more Grammy Awards.
Earlier this year, Rodgers confirmed a new CHIC album, It’s About Time, is on the way and will feature a host of collaborations from artists like Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Craig David, and Stefflon Don to name a few. It’s About Time was originally scheduled for a 2015 release but was put on hold following news that Rodgers had been diagnosed with cancer. The cancer has since been removed. “My prognosis is 100% recovery,” he wrote on his blog in 2017.
NMAAM Tributes to African American Music
The impact of Nile Rodgers contributions to the American Soundtrack that transcends all styles of music across a multitude of generations is one that will remain evident for years to come. His style is a dance-rock signature sound that any dance, funk-inspired, soul, electronic musicians can trace back their inspiration back to him. We’ll just continue to celebrate the “Good Times” and “Dance, Dance, Dance” every time his music is played.
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