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.
Before 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, because of 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 features updated lyrics and music, as well as a rap segment pertaining to Haiti. Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones revealed that Michael Jackson's younger sister Janet duets with her late brother, as per a request from their mother Katherine Jackson.
The production team for the song include RedOne and musical director Ricky Minor. Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean also served 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. Celine Dion said that the release of the song would not only benefit the Haitian people, but also serve as a remembrance of "the passion 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 for Haiti are:
QUINCY JONES – Executive Producer
LIONEL RICHIE – Executive Producer
WYCLEF JEAN – Executive Producer
RICKEY MINOR – Producer
RedOne – Producer
MARY J. BLIGE
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (BIZZY BONES)
HARRY CONNICK, JR.
EARTH, WIND & FIRE
LL COOL J
JOEL & BENJI MADDEN
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