“We Are the World” is a Hit single originally recorded for charity by the supergroup USA for Africa in 1985.
The song was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian for the album We Are the World. With sales in excess of 20 million copies,
it is one of fewer than 30 retail singles to have sold at least 10 million copies worldwide.
Following Band Aid’s 1984 “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” project in the United Kingdom, 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 Lionel Richie were assigned the task of writing the song.
The duo completed the writing of “We Are the World” seven weeks after the release of “Do They
Know It’s Christmas?”, and one night before the song’s first recording session, on January 21, 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 first single from the album. A worldwide commercial
success, topping music charts throughout the world and
becoming the fastest-selling American pop single in history. The first ever single to be certified multi-platinum, “We Are the World” received a Quadruple
Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Awarded numerous honors—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” and raised over $63 million (equivalent to $147 million today) for
humanitarian aid in Africa and the US.