In 1985, it was [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist], [artist id="975"]Bruce Springsteen[/artist] and Tina Turner leading the "We Are the World" charge to ease a devastating famine in Africa. Twenty-five years later, as the recording industry once again mobilizes to face an unspeakable crisis — the aftermath of the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti — a new generation of artists has risen up for a fresh spin on the iconic song, which premieres during the Olympics opening ceremonies tomorrow night.
Lionel Richie, an original co-writer of the tune and organizer of the remake, says solving a 2010 crisis requires singers relevant to the 2010 public. "[I]t was time for a group of faces that this world knows now," he said in a recent interview. "We have the standard group. I call them the Marines, the ones who went in first and charted the course. But for it to be current, you have to make it current."
Newly release footage from the recording session in early February, prominently shows those new faces, including Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, Wyclef Jean, Miley Cyrus, Drake, T-Pain, Kanye West and Keri Hilson. They joined veterans such as Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand in the studio, singing as photos of the Haitian devastation played on oversize screens behind them. Quincy Jones, a producer on the original song as well as the new one, stood in front of the group, listening to the proceedings via headphones. The video also gives us glimpses of some solo recording sessions by Bieber, Pink, Josh Groban, Mary J. Blige, Akon and Maroon 5's Adam Levine.
"You couldn't get one person to recognize Haiti three months ago," Richie said. "It was just business as usual before, and if you died on the street, you died on the street. Now, the whole world is forced on Haiti. We had to lose 250,000 people to do it. But now we can't walk away from it. Now we have to pay attention to it."
All proceeds from sales of the "We Are the World" will go toward Haitian relief efforts. "Donate," Jones urged viewers. "Give it up, whatever you got, to help people who cannot help themselves at this point and to rebuild the country."