On Jan. 9, 1979, the UN General Assembly presented a charity benefit called "A Gift of Song: The Music for UNICEF Concert." The show, hosted by David Frost, with help from Gilda Radner, Henry Winkler and Henry Fonda, was recorded and broadcast on television around the world the following day.
Performers in the star lineup — one that included the Bee Gees, Earth Wind & Fire, John Denver, Rod Stewart, Donna Summer and many more — signed a declaration of support for UNICEF's mission for children from the stage.
Sweden's best-selling pop group, ABBA, was there too. They performed “Chiquitita,” a tune written by Benny Andersson for the band's seventh album, "Voulez-Vous." (Chiquitita is a Spanish term of endearment meaning “little one.")
That night, ABBA pledged all future revenues from the song’s release to UNICEF. In the 42 years since, "Chiquitita" has raised $4.8 million in support of UNICEF’s programs for children.
Now the band is at it again. They've announced that all royalties from their 2021 Christmas song, “Little Things,” will be donated to UNICEF’s child protection work in support of interventions aimed at protecting girls from violence and advancing gender equity, among other programs.
Listening to ABBA's new Christmas song, "Little Things," generates support for UNICEF
Royalties are generated each time someone purchases the holiday season single, from the group’s latest album, "Voyage," or streams it on Spotify, iTunes or YouTube.
Today in 1979, ABBA join other top stars to perform at UNICEF's A Gift Of Song charity concert in New York. ABBA perform 'Chiquitita' and donate all royalties for the sales of the song to UNICEF. #ABBA pic.twitter.com/HnOoUgIxgh— ABBA (@ABBA) January 9, 2021
“We think it is impossible to eradicate poverty without the empowerment of women,” ABBA members Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad said in a joint statement. “That is why we support UNICEF in protecting girls from sexual violence and empowering them through the Global Child Protection Fund. We have done so for many years with our song "Chiquitita," and now we have decided to give UNICEF a Christmas gift in the form of a second song.”
Children face heightened risks of violence and abuse due to effects of the pandemic
The band's donation comes as UNICEF marks 75 years working for children's rights around the world. UNICEF has helped reduce the global child marriage rate from 1 in 4 girls married before age 18 a decade ago to 1 in 5 today. Progress on the issue has stalled during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, as lockdown restrictions and economic shocks heightened risks of early marriage and other forms of exploitation and abuse.
Learn more about how UNICEF programs protect vulnerable children in more than 150 countries.
Join ABBA in supporting UNICEF's work around the world. Donate today.
Top photo: The Swedish pop group ABBA — from left, Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus — have been UNICEF supporters since 1979. © Ludvig Andersson