Michael Jackson was an integral part of the first "We Are the World," from co-writing the song to singing it alongside a gang of fellow celebrities. Twenty-five years later, and only hours before "We Are the World — 25 for Haiti" was set to premiere, Lionel Richie revealed on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" Friday (February 12) that the late King of Pop will be part of the remake's song and video.
"He had to be there," Richie told the talk-show host. "If you're not gonna be there for the production, you still gotta be a part of it."
Jackson's vocals will lead the new all-star cast through the famous refrain on the song's chorus, Richie said. And in the Paul Haggis-directed clip, archive footage of MJ singing from the original shoot will appear alongside his sister Janet Jackson in the new video.
"We have Michael singing that exact part [the chorus] and Janet singing along with him," Richie said, describing the moment as "emotional."
"We Are the World — 25 for Haiti" is scheduled to debut on NBC during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The song was produced by frequent Lady Gaga collaborator RedOne and will feature a bevy of artists and actors, including Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Pink, Jennifer Hudson, Josh Groban and many others. The song will be available to purchase later, and all proceeds will go to the newly formed charity We Are the World Foundation LLC and will then be distributed to Haiti.