Over 40 Artists Gathered At Kenny Rogers' Studio In 1985 To Record "We Are The World"
In the mid 1980s Ethiopia suffered an unimaginable famine that devastated the country, with over 1 million people dying between 1983 and 1985. In an effort to raise money for the cause, Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson teamed up to write a powerful song titled "We Are The World". Recorded at Kenny Rogers' studio, the artists enlisted the help of over 40 musicians to sing on the song, resulting in the fastest selling pop single up to that point and over $60 million raised for hunger relief.
The story behind the song "We Are The World" is extraordinary. As Ethiopia was in the midst of one of the worst famines the world has ever seen, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie decided to work together to help raise relief funds. Written in record time, they finished writing the song the night before the recording session was set to begin.
Teaming up with Kenny Rogers, who assisted with the use of his Lion Share Recording Studio, Richie and Jackson recorded demo tracks for every performer that was asked to participate in "We Are The World."
In a bid to guarantee the success of the song and therefore raise the necessary money for Ethiopian famine relief, the duo enlisted 44 musicians from across a wide range of genres to be a part of the one-of-a-kind project. This includes an incredible amount of artists with various talents, such as Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, and many others.
The recording session needed to be top secret so that the public didn't find out about the project ahead of time. So late one January night, following the American Music Awards, the many musicians got to work at Kenny Rogers' studio and recorded all through the night until after sunrise the next morning. What resulted from that massive operation would change music history.
Becoming the fastest-selling pop single ever, "We Are The World" raised more than $60 million for Ethiopian hunger relief. Released under the name USA For Africa, the epic collaboration surprised music fans globally and helped Ethiopia's dire situation profoundly.
The song went on to win three Grammy Awards, one American Music Award, and a People's Choice Award. What's even more touching is in 2010 when Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, a remake of the song was recorded with another all-star cast of singers, with proceeds going to recovery relief.
In times like this when humanity feels under threat, it's encouraging to remember other times that we as humans have helped each other out. "We Are The World' might be about a different crisis, but it's just as relevant today as it was back in 1985.
What do you think of the incredible work these musicians did to help Ethiopia in a time of desperate need? Let us know in the comments and be sure to pass on to your family and friends.