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There were several ambitious projects in the 1980s where the music industry tried to make a difference by raising money to make a difference. One of those projects happened in 1985, when dozens of musicians formed a supergroup called USA for Africa and recorded We Are the World.
Written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson and produced by the legendary Quincy Jones, We Are the World included dozens of performers in a star-studded ensemble cast made up of some of the biggest names in music at the time: Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, Kenny Loggins, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, Smokey Robinson, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Diana Ross, Huey Lewis, Hall & Oats, the Pointer Sisters, and more.
All walked into a studio where they were greeted by a sign that said “check your egos at the door.” And they did.
The finished product sold more than 20 million copies and was simultaneously played on 8,000 radio stations around the world. The project raised more than $63 million for famine relief in Africa. Nearly 40 years later, USA For Africa, is still active and fighting poverty.
In this episode of Prisoners of Rock and World, we’re taking a look at We Are the World – the idea behind the project, the recording, and it’s impact.
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