The release of the original "We Are The World" on March 7, 1985 was an instant success. It became the fastest-selling U.S. pop single of all-time, and by the end of the decade, was the best-selling single of the 1980s. It earned four Grammy Awards, including one for Best Music Video. To date, it has sold more than 20 million copies, and raised over $63 million for humanitarian aid in Africa and the U.S.
The lineup for "We Are The World" included producer Quincy Jones, composers Lionel Richie and the late Michael Jackson, and an all-star cast of pop, rock and R&B stars named USA For Africa, featuring 21 soloists and another 22 members of the chorus.
Plans were in place for a 25th anniversary re-recording of "We Are The World" when Haiti was shaken by a devastating earthquake on January 12. Immediately, the project shifted to a fundraising effort for the survivors of the earthquake.
The recording of "We Are The World 25 For Haiti" took place on February 1 in Los Angeles, California. Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie co-produced the single, and, with a production team that included rappers Will.i.am, Kanye West and L.L. Cool J, a new music segment and lyrics were added. According to hip-hop producer RedOne, the updated version "is meant to sound more now and current, while keeping the feeling and vibe of the original."
Justin Beiber, 15, is the lead-off soloist, followed by 35 back-to-back solos, ranging from Josh Groban, Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dogg and Fergie, to Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Jennifer Hudson and Celine Dion.
In honor of Michael Jackson's contribution to "We Are The World," his solo from the original recording was incorporated into a duet with his younger sister Janet.
More than 50 artists participated in the chorus, including Michael Jackson's three nephews from the R&B group 3T; Joe and Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers; actors Jeff Bridges and Vince Vaughan; founding members of the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson and Al Jardine; Quincy Jones' daughter, singer and actress Rashida Jones; winner of this year's Grammy Award for Best New Artist, The Zac Brown Band, and scores more.
"We Are The World 25 For Haiti" was released as a digital download. Similar to the original, a music video was also filmed and released. All proceeds will go to disaster relief in Haiti through a newly-formed charity called the We Are The World Foundation. For more on the song, donation information, and the music video, visit the Foundation's website at www.wearetheworldfoundation.org.