Rina Sawayama Announces New Version of Queer Anthem 'Chosen Family' Featuring Elton John

Monday April 12, 2021

Elton John and Rina Sawayama
Elton John and Rina Sawayama  (Source:Twitter / @rinasawayama)

Last year, Elton John said out pop star Rina Sawayama's new album "Sawayama" was his favorite of the year and now the two are working on a project together. Taking to social media Monday, Sawayama revealed that John will be featured on a new version of her queer anthem "Chosen Family."

When she released the track last year, Billboard wrote "Chosen Family" is "a powerful anthem of belonging, where the star pays tribute to those in her life who she has come to accept as family, even if their relation isn't by blood."

"The concept of a chosen family is, to me, a queer one — people are often kicked out of their homes or ostracized by their family, friends, and community after coming out," she told Billboard. "This can be an incredibly painful experience that can be remedied by finding a new 'chosen' family."

Both Sawayama, 30, and John, 74, were profiled in The New York Times Monday, which reported that the duo got to know each other over the phone during the pandemic and met for the first time in person "in a London studio in December, so they could record a collaborative version of Sawayama's song 'Chosen Family.'"

Speaking with the Times, John said Sawayama's 2020 LP "blew me away."

"I had to call her up and tell her how brilliant it was. I mean, it was Led Zeppelin meets Prince meets a couple of things that referenced Madonna. I think her songs 'Bad Friend' and 'Chosen Family' Madonna would have killed for," he said.

Of "Chosen Family," John said the song's "lyrical content is so beautiful," later adding it "is like a hymn. You can hear it being performed by a gospel choir."

Sawayama, who identifies as bisexual and pansexual, said she "really wanted to write a genuine song, something about celebration." She added:

The people who look after each other so much when they've gone through so much themselves — the whole song is meant to be a message from a safe space. My friends are basically all queer, and I'm from the community. The stories I hear from them, about being kicked out of home for being gay, for example, or not being able to come out to their parents, even at 28 — a lot of trauma and real stories went into it. It's so close to my heart. And while it's specific to the community, it was also interesting when someone straight was like, "Oh, I can imagine this playing at a wedding." I guess chosen family can mean that as well.

Click here to read the full piece and listen to the original "Chosen Family" below.

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