Stars like Barbara Streisand and Celine Dion, and rappers including Kanye West and Snoop Dogg, walked through the same door on Monday to record a new version of the iconic pop hit song “We Are The World”, that 25 years ago was used by a group of A-list singers who came together to raise money for the famine in Africa. The latest glittering lineup was called together in the last few weeks, this time to respond to the devastating Haitian earthquake.
None of the singers of the original song were invited to participate in the update, which was recorded at the same Hollywood studio, again under the oversight of Quincy Jones and the song’s co-writer Lionel Richie.
Classical tenor Josh Groban said, “Everybody left their ego at the door,” referring to a sign that Jones hung in the studio during the original session on the old A&M Records lot on January 28, 1985.
“25 years ago, the entertainment industry showed the power of community to help our fellow man when we recorded ‘We Are The World’ to bring relief to those suffering from famine in Ethiopia,” commented Jones. “Today the country of Haiti is suffering immeasurably and is in immediate need of relief that will last long after the television cameras have left. As artists, we have joined together on this 25th anniversary and in the spirit of ‘We Are The World’ to help meet that need.”
Upon its original release, We Are the World quickly became the fastest selling single in history and in the years that have followed, USA for Africa has raised and distributed more than $63 million in revenue from the sales of more than 7 million units of the album, single and cassettes, plus nearly 2 million digital sales and related merchandise.
“When first approached about re-recording ‘We Are The World’, it didn’t seem like a great idea since the original version was so iconic,” said Randy Phillips, President & CEO, AEG Live. “Then Haiti happened and that changed everything. Quincy and Lionel decided that ‘We Are the World’ was created just for emergencies like this. This recording will have a life of its own and keep Haiti in the public eye at the same time raising much needed funds to continue the healing, reconstruction and rebirth of this country,” Phillips added.
The new version of We Are The World and the accompanying video will be available for purchase on-line and in stores within a couple weeks, with all proceeds going directly to the earthquake relief efforts in the country of Haiti through the We Are The World Foundation.
Other celebrities included Justin Bieber, Usher, Katharine McPhee, will.i.am, Toni Braxton, LL Cool J, Harry Connick Jr., Wyclef Jean, Vince Vaughn, Jeff Bridges and Natalie Cole and Carlos Santana.
(Read about celebrity experiences in the studio from ABC News)