I AM...

I am whatever YOU think I am until YOU get to KNOW me. This is true for everyone else too, of course.. so don't make assumptions about anyone or pass judgment; ask questions. You might just make a new friend.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

WE ARE THE WORLD



"We Are the World" is a 1985 song and charity single recorded by the supergroup USA for Africa. It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and co-produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian for the album We Are the World. Following Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" project in the UK, an idea for the creation of an American benefit single for African famine relief came from activist Harry Belafonte, who, along with fundraiser Ken Kragen, was instrumental in bringing the vision to reality. Several musicians were contacted by the pair, before Jackson and Richie were assigned the task of writing the song. Following several months of working together, the duo completed the writing of "We Are the World" one night before the song's first recording session, in early 1985. The last recording session for the song was held on January 28, 1985. The historic event brought together some of the most famous artists in the music industry at the time.

The song was released on March 7, 1985, as the only single from the album. A worldwide commercial success, it topped music charts throughout the world and became the fastest-selling American pop single in history. The first ever single to be certified multi-platinum, "We Are the World" received a 4× certification by the Recording Industry Association of America. However, the song garnered mixed reviews from journalists, music critics and the public. Fans enjoyed hearing racially and musically diverse recording artists singing together on one track, and felt satisfied in buying "We Are the World", knowing that the money was going to charity. Other individuals, such as those in the rock community, were disappointed that the song did not challenge why famines occur in the first place, and felt that the lyrics were self-aggrandizing.

Honored numerous times—including three Grammy Awards, one American Music Award and a People's Choice Award—the song was promoted with a critically received music video, a home video, a special edition magazine, a simulcast, and several books, posters and shirts. The promotion and merchandise aided the success of "We Are the World", which was eventually named the biggest selling single of all time. As of 2009, it has sold more than 20 million units and raised over $63 million for humanitarian aid in Africa and the US. "We Are the World" demonstrated that diverse musicians could productively work together, and further influenced the movement within pop music to create songs that address humane concerns.

BACKGROUND & WRITING: Before the writing of "We Are the World", American entertainer and social activist Harry Belafonte had sought for some time to have a song recorded by the most famous artists in the music industry at the time. He planned to have the proceeds donated to a new organization called United Support of Artists for Africa (USA for Africa). The non-profit foundation would then feed and relieve starving people in Africa, specifically Ethiopia, where around one million people died during the country's 1984–1985 famine.[1][2] The idea followed Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" project in the UK, which Belafonte had heard about.[3]a[›] In the activist's plans, money would also be set aside to help eliminate hunger in the United States of America. Entertainment manager and fellow fundraiser Ken Kragen was contacted by Belafonte, who asked for singers Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers—Kragen's clients—to participate in Belafonte's musical endeavor. Kragen and the two musicians agreed to help with Belafonte's mission, and in turn, enlisted the cooperation of Stevie Wonder, to add more "name value" to their project.[1] Quincy Jones was drafted to co-produce the song, taking time out from his work on The Color Purple.[1][4] Richie also telephoned Michael Jackson, who had just released the commercially successful Thriller album and had concluded a tour with his brothers.[1] Jackson revealed to Richie that he not only wanted to sing the song, but to participate in its writing as well.[1][5] To begin with, "We Are the World" was to be written by Jackson, Richie and Wonder. As Wonder had limited time to work on the project, Jackson and Richie proceeded to write "We Are the World" themselves.[5] They began work on the song's creation at Hayvenhurst, the Encino home of Jackson and his family. For a week, the two spent every night working on lyrics and melodies in the latter's bedroom. They knew that they wanted a song which would be easy to sing and memorable. The pair wanted to create an anthem. Jackson's older sister, La Toya, watched the two work on the song, and later revealed that Richie only wrote a few lines for the track.[4] She stated that her younger brother wrote 99 percent of the lyrics, "but he's never felt it necessary to say that".[4] La Toya further commented on the song's creation in an interview with the American celebrity news magazine People. "I'd go into the room while they were writing and it would be very quiet, which is odd, since Michael's usually very cheery when he works. It was very emotional for them."[5]

Richie had recorded two melodies for "We Are the World", which Jackson took, adding music and words to the song in the same day. Jackson stated, "I love working quickly. I went ahead without even Lionel knowing, I couldn't wait. I went in and came out the same night with the song completed—drums, piano, strings, and words to the chorus."[6] Jackson then presented his demo to Richie and Jones, who were both shocked; they did not expect the pop star to see the structure of the song so quickly. The next meetings between Jackson and Richie were unfruitful; the pair did not produce any additional vocals and got no work done. It was not until the night of January 21, 1985, that Richie and Jackson completed the lyrics and melody of "We Are the World" within two and a half hours, one night before the song's first recording session.[6]

I thought this video would be the PERFECT video to close out 2009. This year most if not all of us felt excluded in some shape OR form due to what was happening around us. I would like to think that the financial crisis touched each of us and we are ready to take our collective places in the world. Caring for each other adds dimension to our lives and enables us to feel more interconnected to the rest of the world. While there are times when being an island unto ourselves is necessary, I think that such a way of life is not meant for us.

Giving support to each other means that we are active participants in creating a human world. By taking the time to consider the needs of others, you generate compassion and begin developing selflessness. When you find a way to serve, you become more attuned to the concerns of the world around you. This means that you create a greater understanding of yourself, your community, and the world as a whole. With this awareness comes the realization that many of your problems and those of others are universal. So take the time to serve others. Doing what we can will help us make 2010 the year that we turn things around and live life with a purpose.

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