Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage
Twenty-five years ago, dozens of music superstars, including Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Tina Turner and Cyndi Lauper, crowded into a recording studio in Hollywood and recorded "We Are the World," a groundbreaking anthem of compassion written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and produced by Quincy Jones. According to the Los Angeles Times, the recording went on to earn $63 million for the charity USA for Africa.
A video documenting a new version of the iconic single, officially titled "We Are the World — 25 for Haiti," premiered Feb. 12 on NBC during the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada, featuring more than 100 of music's famous faces -- including Miley Cyrus, Pink, LL Cool J, Will.i.am, Celine Dion, Mary J. Blige, Jamie Foxx, Kanye West, Keith Urban, Usher, Jonas Brothers, Fergie, Toni Braxton, Snoop Dogg, Josh Groban, Barbra Streisand, and Tony Bennett. The all-star cast convened at the very same recording studio as the original on Feb. 1, one day after the Grammy Awards.
The results of the all-star joining of voices to benefit earthquake relief efforts in Haiti -- featuring Janet Jackson singing along to footage of late brother Michael Jackson from the original "We Are the World" -- aired in a shortened version of the video (directed by Crash auteur Paul Haggis) on NBC on Friday and the full-length video was revealed on Saturday (see video).
As Josh Groban told the Los Angeles Times about the experience, "I'm standing there between Tony Bennett and Bizzy (referring to the jazz icon and the member of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony). That's not ever really going to happen again."
Some new-generation artists, such as Zac Brown, whose band had just won the best new artist Grammy, seemed a bit star-struck to be rubbing elbows with the likes of Carlos Santana, who recorded a searing guitar solo for the song.
"It's like standing in the classic records section at the Turtles music store looking at all the covers," Brown said. "It's ridiculous and it's wonderful and for a good cause."
Wyclef Jean, moved to tears by the outpouring of support for his native Haiti, recalled his own poignant journey as a young Haitian immigrant working at Burger King and falling in love with the music of Lionel Richie. "I'm like a kid in a candy shop," he said, as he surveyed the studio filled with his heroes.
At the end of the night, Jean spoke to the participants, expressing deep gratitude. "I just want to thank everyone,” he said. “Haiti thanks you. The world thanks you."
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For schedules and listings of the Olympic Winter Games, go to the official NBC site.