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Friday, 5 February 2010

USA For Africa - We Are The World

'We Are the World' is a song and charity single originally recorded by the supergroup USA for Africa in 1985. It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and co-produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian for the album We Are the World.

Following Band Aid's 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' project in the UK, an idea for the creation of an American benefit single for African famine relief came from activist Harry Belafonte, who, along with fundraiser Ken Kragen, was instrumental in bringing the vision to reality. Several musicians were contacted by the pair, before Jackson and Richie were assigned the task of writing the song. The duo completed the writing of 'We Are the World' one night before the song's first recording session, in early 1985. The last recording session for the song was held on February 28, 1985. The historic event brought together some of the most famous artists in the music industry at the time.

The song was released on March 7, 1985, as the only single from the album. A worldwide commercial success, it topped music charts throughout the world and became the fastest-selling American pop single in history. The first ever single to be certified multi-platinum, 'We Are the World' received a 4× certification by the Recording Industry Association of America. However, the song garnered mixed reviews from journalists, music critics and the public. Fans enjoyed hearing racially and musically diverse recording artists singing together on one track, and felt satisfied in buying 'We Are the World', knowing that the money was going to charity. Other individuals, including many commentators in the rock press, were disappointed that the song did not challenge listeners as to why famines occur in the first place, and felt that the lyrics were self-aggrandizing.

Honored numerous times — including three Grammy Awards, one American Music Award and a People's Choice Award — the song was promoted with a critically well-received music video, a home video, a special edition magazine, a simulcast, and several books, posters and shirts. The promotion and merchandise aided the success of 'We Are the World', which was eventually named the biggest-selling single of all time. As of 2009, it has sold more than 20 million units and raised over $63 million for humanitarian aid in Africa and the US. 'We Are the World' has demonstrated that diverse musicians can productively work together, and has further influenced the movement within pop music to create songs that address humane concerns.

'We Are the World' is sung from a first person viewpoint, allowing the audience to "internalize" the message by singing the word we together. It has been described as "an appeal to human compassion". The first lines in the song's repetitive chorus, proclaim, "We Are the World, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day, so let's start giving". 'We Are the World' opens with Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, James Ingram, Tina Turner and Billy Joel singing the first verse. Michael Jackson and Diana Ross follow, completing the first chorus together. Dionne Warwick, Willie Nelson and Al Jarreau sing the second verse, before Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry and Daryl Hall go through the second chorus. Co-writer Jackson, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper and Kim Carnes follow with the third verse. This structuring of the song is said to "create a sense of continuous surprise and emotional buildup". 'We Are the World' concludes with Bob Dylan and Ray Charles singing a full chorus, Wonder and Springsteen duetting, and ad libs from Charles and Ingram

Artist on the record include:

Quincy Jones

Soloists (in order of appearance)
Lionel Richie - Stevie Wonder - Paul Simon - Kenny Rogers - James Ingram
Tina Turner - Billy Joel - Michael Jackson - Diana Ross - Dionne Warwick
Willie Nelson - Al Jarreau - Bruce Springsteen - Kenny Loggins - Steve Perry
Daryl Hall - Huey Lewis - Cyndi Lauper - Kim Carnes - Bob Dylan - Ray Charles

Dan Aykroyd - Harry Belafonte - Lindsey Buckingham - Mario Cipollina
Johnny Colla - Sheila E. - Bob Geldof - Bill Gibson - Chris Hayes - Sean Hopper
Jackie Jackson - La Toya Jackson - Marlon Jackson - Randy Jackson

Tito Jackson - Waylon Jennings - Bette Midler - John Oates - Jeffrey Osborne
Anita Pointer - Ruth Pointer - Smokey Robinson

On March 7, 1985, "We Are the World" was released as a single, in both 7 inch and 12 inch format. The song was the only one released from the We Are the World album and became a chart success around the world. In the US, it was a number one hit on the R&B singles chart, the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart and the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for a month. The single had initially debuted at number 21 on the Hot 100, the highest entry since Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' entered the charts at number 21 the year before. It took four weeks for the song to claim the number one spot—half the time a single would normally have taken to reach its charting peak. 'We Are the World' might have reached the top of the Hot 100 chart sooner, if it were not for the success of Phil Collins' 'One More Night', which received a significant level of support from both pop and rock listeners. 'We Are the World' also entered Billboard's Top Rock Tracks and Hot Country Singles charts, where it peaked at numbers 27 and 76 respectively. The song became the first single since The Beatles' 'Let It Be' to enter Billboard's Top 5 within two weeks of release.

Outside of the US, the single reached number one in France, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. The song peaked at number 2 in Austria, number 12 in Italy and number 18 in Denmark.

We Are the World: 25 for Haiti

On January 12, 2010, at 21:53 UTC, (4:53 pm local time) Haiti was struck by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake, the country's most severe earthquake in over 200 years. The epicenter of the quake was just outside the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. It has been estimated that the death toll could reach 200,000. Widespread damage resulted from the quake. The capital city was devastated.

Earthquake damage in Port-au-PrincePrior to the earthquake, Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie had planned to organize a re-recording of 'We Are the World' on January 28, 2010 — the 25th anniversary of the original recording of the song. However, due to the devastation caused in Haiti, these plans were postponed. The new version of the song was recorded on February 1, 2010. Over 75 musicians were involved in the recording, which was held in the same place as the original. Also similar to the 1985 process, some of the participating musicians were already in Los Angeles to attend an awards ceremony: the 52nd Grammy Awards. The new version will feature updated lyrics and music, as well as a rap segment pertaining to Haiti. According to Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson's younger sister Janet will take her late brother's part in the song. The production team for the song include RedOne and musical director Ricky Minor. Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean will also serve as a producer.

At the time of the recording, numerous artists commented on the process, the 1985 version of the song and co-writer Michael Jackson. R&B singer Jordin Sparks revealed that despite being born after the release of the original, the song had a "huge impact" on her. Canadian songstress Celine Dion express that the release of the song would not only benefit the Haitian people, but also serve as a remembrance of "the passion [Michael] Jackson had for helping those in need". Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones echoed Dion's sentiments and further stated that if the singer were alive, he would have wanted to be just as involved as he had been a quarter of a century ago.

Artists involved
The following artists involved were made public by the 2010 'We Are the World' organizers:

Akon - Lady Gaga - India.Arie - Patti Austin - Tony Bennett - Justin Bieber
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony - Ethan Bortnick - Brandy - Jeff Bridges - Toni Braxton - Zac Brown
Kristian Bush - Natalie Cole - Harry Connick Jr. - Kid Cudi - Miley Cyrus - Celine Dion
Snoop Dogg - Drake - Earth Wind & Fire - Faith Evans - Melanie Fiona - Jamie Foxx
Sean Garrett - Tyrese Gibson - Josh Groban - Anthony Hamilton - Keri Hilson
Julianne Hough - Jennifer Hudson - Enrique Iglesias - LL Cool J - Janet Jackson
Randy Jackson - Taj Jackson - Taryll Jackson - TJ Jackson - Al Jardine - Joe Jonas
Kevin Jonas - Nick Jonas - Rashida Jones - Gladys Knight - Adam Levine - Jimmy Jean-Louis
Benji Madden - Joel Madden - Mary Mary - Katharine McPhee - Jason Mraz - Mýa
Jennifer Nettles - Orianthi - Freda Payne - P!nk - A. R. Rahman - Nicole Richie
Raphael Saadiq - Carlos Santana - Nicole Scherzinger - Isaac Slade - Trey Songz
Musiq Soulchild - Jordin Sparks - Barbra Streisand - T-Pain - Robin Thicke - Rob Thomas
Usher - Vince Vaughn - Lil Wayne - Kanye West - Will.i.am - Ann Wilson - Brian Wilson
Nancy Wilson - BeBe Winans - Britney Spears

Click the link below to download the following:
Original Video
Single Version

Michael Jackson's Demo Version
Quincy Jones - Grace - B-Side


USA For Africa - We Are The World - Video

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