Stars Remake We Are the World for Quake-Hit Haiti

Producers were putting the final touches this week to a remake of We Are the World with stars such as Barbra Streisand, Wyclef Jean and Celine Dion lending their support for Haiti’s quake victims.

It was 25 years ago that Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen joined others at the famed A&M Studios in Hollywood for an all-star recording of the same song to benefit famine relief in Africa.

That effort, USA for Africa, raised US$63 million.

This time, dozens of other A-listers – who also include Usher, Lil Wayne, Pink, Natalie Cole and the Jonas Brothers – took to the same soundstage late Monday for an hours-long recording that dragged into the night.

The aim is to raise money to help survivors of the massive January 12 quake that killed 170,000 people and devastated what was already the poorest country in the Americas.

No cameras were allowed inside, but the song’s producers said We Are the World – 25 For Haiti will air during NBC television’s coverage of the opening of the Winter Olympics on February 12.

More than 70 stars – many of them hip-hop artists – lent their voice to the effort, none of them participants in the original recording.

Rapper Wyclef Jean, a Haiti native, said in a statement he was “proud to be joined by so many members of the artistic community that want to support the region and have donated their time and talents to providing an effective way for the global community to get involved with helping the Haitian population.”

The original tune was co-written and produced by Jackson, who died June 25 of cardiac arrest, Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones.

Richie and Jones produced the new version.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis, who directed Crash and also co-wrote Million Dollar Baby, filmed the session for an accompanying video.

“What an unbelievable group of people who have come together to give their voices, for a cause to start the healing of a people who have experienced a devastation of such magnitude,” said Richie.

Among the other performers spanning a broad swath of genres and ages, from 83-year-old Tony Bennett to 15-year-old Justin Bieber, were Carlos Santana, Brian Wilson and Al Jardine of the Beach Boys.

“It kind of hit me that I guess this is something way more important than I could have ever imagined,” rapper Lil Wayne, who is playing Bob Dylan’s part from the original recording, told a news conference.

The recording was timed just a day after the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards to ensure the maximum number of stars would attend.

The contemporary version of the song and the video will be available to buy through online and traditional retailers. Producers say all proceeds will go “directly” to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

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