Music for UNICEF - A Gift Of Song Concert

Filmed Tuesday 9 January 1979  
Location United Nations, National Assembly Hall, New York, USA


Broadcast in the USA by NBC on Wednesday 10th January 1979 from 8-9:30 PM (EST) (and subsequently broadcast in 70 countries to an audience of 300 million people).
Broadcast in Sweden : 30 March 1979 on SVT at 8pm
Broadcast in Italy : 25 April 1979 and 2pm and 1 November 1979, at 3.40pm on TV1 in Italy and called "Una canzone per regalo"
Broadcast in Norway : 3 February 1979
Broadcast in UK: Saturday 13 January 1979
Released The performance of "Chiquitita" has been released on the Voulez-Vous Deluxe Edition


UNICEF is an acronym for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. 1979 was their "International Year of The Child".

The founding committee for the concert consisted of Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb (The Bee Gees), their manager Robert Stigwood and Sir David Frost, the famous English TV presenter. Initially, the committee invited ABBA, Olivia Newton-John, Rod Stewart, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge (then husband and wife), Barry Manilow, Elton John and Andy Gibb. However, as the date of the concert approached, both Barry Manilow and Elton John found that their other commitments made it impossible for them to be present. (According to ABBA Magazine No.10, Fleetwood Mac were on the original line-up as well). Barry and Elton were replaced by Donna Summer, John Denver and Earth, Wind & Fire.

The idea was that apart from performing at the concert without being paid, each of the artists who took part would donate the royalties from one of their songs to UNICEF. ABBA donated the rights to "Chiquitita" to the UN Children's Fund. The evening's show was presented by Sir David Frost co-hosted by Henry (The Fonz) Winkler, Henry Fonda and Gilda Radner.

Each artist was shown arriving at the United Nations Assembly Hall.

The show started with each artist just singing a little bit each in turn as a way of introduction.  ABBA's contribution was a short burst of "He Is Your Brother" (not LIVE however) and were joined by the other artists on stage.

ABBA were introduced ("Benny-Bror-Goran-Andersson-Bjorn Christian Ulvaeus-Agnetha-Ase-Anna-Faltskog-Ulvaeus Anni-Frida-Lyngstad. Or to put it another way - ABBA!") by Gilda Radner (wife of US comic actor Gene Wilder (she died in 1989)) and performed "Chiquitita" (it was NOT a LIVE performance however). Prior to the performance they were seen sitting in their seats waiting for their turn.  Donna Summer presented ABBA with the Parchment so they could sign over the royalties for the song.

After John Denver's performance, ABBA presented him with the Parchment.

At the end of the concert, ABBA joined the all-star line-up, led by John Denver, to song "Put A Little Love in Your Heart".

Björn said, "It is very difficult to know which shows to accept. We did the UNICEF show in New York partly because it was for a very good cause but also because it was being broadcast everywhere in the world."

The concert was a huge success and was broadcast in over 70 countries around the world seen by more than 300 million people. It was estimated the Music for UNICEF concert, plus the song royalties donated by the contributing artistes, amounted to more than £50,000,000.

An LP was released which featured 10 of the songs featured at the concert including "Chiquitita" (remember, it was not a live performance, just the normal recorded version).

It's very sad, looking back, at the number of artistes in this concert that ABBA worked with, who are no longer with us: John Denver, Andy Gibb & Maurice Gibb.


Click here for rehearsal pictures

Duration The programme lasted 1 hour - ABBA's bits in total lasted about 8 minutes
Watch out for
Lyrics Click on song title for the song lyrics and recording information: He Is Your Brother (though ABBA only sing the chorus in this programme), Chiquitita. Also, here are the lyrics for Put A Little Love In Your Heart  
Pictures Click on image for a larger view:

Related Links US News Report, 1979; United Nations Gala, 1984 (Frida);  UNICEF;
Credits Some information from ABBA Magazine Nos.10 & 11 and ABBA Annual 1981
Enormous thanks to Jan Bach. Thanks also to
Alexandre Carvalho, Tony Rogers, Ian Cole, Johan Jerreling, Henk and Sam Shervz. Special thanks to Jozsef .