On Monday night, 80 artists – including singers, rappers and even a few actors – gathered in Hollywood with Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones to record “We Are the World – 25 Years for Haiti,” an event in which everyone was grateful to take part.
And in between laying down their vocals at Jim Henson Studios, the site of the original recording (then A&M Records), the stars told a group of reporters on site, including Access Hollywood, about taking part in the historic re-recording.
Celine Dion revealed she was selected to sing Cyndi Lauper’s famous portion of the original song, the “Well, well, well, well, we have to realize” part – something that made the Canadian songstress a bit nervous.
“You’re honored that they pick you for the hardest part of the song,” Celine said on Monday night. “But, it’s also a lot of pressure, thanks a lot.”
Celine continued that last night’s tribute was emotional for her because Michael Jackson has participated in the original. She explained how she had the honor to have met MJ when he was alive, and that he came to her show once and that he was actually the reason why she wanted to learn English.
Music newcomer, 15-year-old Justin Bieber – who wasn’t alive when the original 1985 version dropped – also revealed he was excited over his part in the new version.
“I was singing the opening line, so it was pretty amazing,” Justin told reporters.
Crooner Josh Groban said he was excited to follow in the footsteps of two of music’s greats.
“Kenny Rogers’ original harmony with Paul Simon is what I got,” Josh told Access. “So, I was happy for that.”
Josh also said it felt like it was the first day of summer camp and that he had a great deal of nerves because the original song was so great. He explained that everyone indeed truly did leave his or her egos at the door, and that this was the most important thing he has done in a long time.
The new song features a new style of music not included the first time around – rap – and features the lyric skills of Lil’ Wayne, T-Pain, Kanye West, Bizzy Bone, Kid Cudi, LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg, Jamie Foxx, Drake, Mann, Nipsey Hussle, Busta Rhymes and Swizz Beatz. The rappers performed an interlude penned by Will.i.am.
Lil’ Wayne said that when he was told he would be doing the Bob Dylan part, he thought the producers were joking with him.
“I was like, ‘You guys are real good comedians, you know,’” he explained.
Musiq Soulchild said that by far, the most magical part of the evening was the organic moment when everyone started singing, “Lean on Me” together. He explained the moment came about after singer Melanie Fiona, whose feet were hurting, put her arm on his shoulder for support. He said he told her they were recording “We Are The World,” not “Lean on Me,” at which point Celine Dion began singing the Bill Withers classic and everyone else chimed in.
When Haiti native Wyclef Jean came out, he said the group’s cause – relief for victims of the earthquake in Haiti – was especially important to him.
“You see that little kid in Haiti,” Wyclef said. “That’s really me if I never got a chance to come to America.”
As for Quincy, he told reporters that Janet Jackson would take over her late brother’s part of the original song.
“She’s doing Michael’s part, in the middle,” he said.
Janet is expected to record the vocals on Tuesday from Atlanta.
The song, which was filmed in 3-D and also features the talents Pink, Natalie Cole, Jennifer Hudson, Barbra Streisand, Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, Jordin Sparks, Carlos Santana, Brandy, Mya, Tyrese Gibson, Katherine McPhee, Faith Evans, Julianne Hough, Melanie Fiona, Kanye West, Tony Bennett, Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart, Earth, Wind & Fire and Enrique Iglesias – and even actors Vince Vaughn, Jeff Goldblum and Jeff Bridges – amongst others, is scheduled to premiere during Opening Night ceremonies of NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage.