LOS ANGELES — The energy was electric Monday night (February 1) at Henson Studios as more than 80 of music’s biggest stars gathered for a charity remake of “We Are the World” in support of Haitian earthquake relief.
“I feel like a kid in a candy store,” Wyclef Jean said, speaking to the press about the idea of remaking such an iconic song, which is getting production help from RedOne and Will.I.Am. “What’s bigger than a contribution is that you lend your voice,” the Haitian native said earlier in the day to his peers while trying to inspire them during the session, which began around 3 p.m. and lasted well into the night.
Among the voices in the 81-member choir were Pink, [artist id=”510062″]Lil Wayne[/artist], [artist id=”1230523″]Kanye West[/artist], Nick Jonas, LL Cool J, [artist id=”3235468″]Robin Thicke[/artist], Celine Dion, Akon, Rob Thomas, Wyclef, Jeff Bridges, Vince Vaughn, Barbra Streisand, Jordin Sparks, Good Charlotte’s Madden brothers, Tony Bennett, Josh Groban, Snoop Dogg, [artist id=”3187077″]Justin Bieber[/artist], [artist id=”2481017″]Jennifer Hudson[/artist], Keri Hilson, Jamie Foxx, Tyrese, Katharine McPhee, Sean Garrett, Will.I.Am, Carlos Santana, Melanie Fiona, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton, Jason Mraz, Miley Cyrus, Busta Rhymes, Nicole Scherzinger, Nicole Richie, [artist id=”1270″]Usher[/artist], Julianne Hough, Raphael Saadiq, Zac Brown, India.Arie, “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson, Musiq Soulchild, Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson, Fonzworth Bentley, Kid Cudi, Iyaz, Bizzy Bone, Nipsey Hussle, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, Trey Songz, Faith Evans, Mya and Gladys Knight. (Head here for a full list of “We Are the World” participants .)
Kanye, wearing a red jacket with sparkling gold crisscross accents, stood center in the front row, between Wyclef and Hudson.
Among the soloists whose sessions were screened for journalists at press time were Bieber, Dion and Groban. Lil Wayne also came out and humbly noted that he recorded the solo originally sung by Bob Dylan.
The inspirational lyrics were laid down over a track that had a more modern Southern hip-hop bounce to it. The recording session took place almost 25 years to the day since the original song for African famine relief was recorded.
In a statement, Jones said, “Twenty five 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. And while the need to assistant Africa continues, today the country of Haiti is suffering immeasurably from the destruction due to the recent earthquake 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.”
“The experience was out of this world,” said Bieber, who sang Lionel Richie’s original opening line. The world premiere of the song’s video will air during NBC’s coverage of the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics on Friday, February 12.
According to a press release from the organizers, both the new version of “We Are the World” and the accompanying video will be available for purchase through a consortium of on-line and retail partners, with all proceeds going directly to the earthquake-relief efforts in Haiti through the We Are The World Foundation, a newly created not-for-profit organization made up of board members Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie, Wyclef Jean, Paul Haggis, Randy Phillips and Ambassador Louis Moreno of the Inter-American Development Bank.