The handwritten sign that had been taped to the recording studio entrance said it all . . .
‘Please check your egos at the door,’ it read. Considering that, amongst those due that night were Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Paul Simon, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, it was quite a request.
It was January 28, 1985 and, in Hollywood, American music’s biggest stars gathered to make a special record. The supergroup – called USA for Africa – were to record a song, We are the World, that did immeasurable good. Selling more than 20 million copies, the project raised more than $63 million that was spent on humanitarian aid – principally in Africa, but also here, on home soil.
Throughout it all, ran a common theme: that united, we are better, stronger and able to change lives. That we’re all in it together, from the rich and famous in the United States to those starving to death in Africa. That this life isn’t about individuals, that it’s a team effort. That we are the world. That we are all connected.
No place then, in that recording studio, for egos. Just those putting their fame and their talent to good use. Quincy Jones, the producer responsible for the record, had, in inviting the biggest artists in the United States to take part, sent out a letter. In it, he wrote, “In the years to come, when your children ask ‘What did Mommy and Daddy do [to fight] the war against World famine?’ you can say proudly, this was your contribution.”
The letter did the trick. The contribution was immense. The song, America’s answer to Band Aid, is great – you can watch the video here – and the lyrics, a joint effort between Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, ring so true. Think for a moment about the things that drive our efforts here at OM HQ – things like community, humanity, compassion and togetherness – and then consider the following lines from a record that, 27 years later, still resonates:
‘There comes a time, when we heed a certain call, when the world must come together as one . . . it’s time to lend a hand, the greatest gift of all . . . the truth, you know, love is all we need . . . let’s start giving . . . send them your heart, so they’ll know that someone cares, and their lives will be stronger and free . . . let’s realize that a change can only come when we all stand together as one.’
It’s no surprise that listening to such lyrics has got us all inspired. That, as much as the millions of dollars raised, is the legacy, the lesson, that if we all check our egos at the door and stand together as one, we can all make a difference.
It’s something for us all to think about . . .
Here at OM HQ, we’d like to use this as a chance to introduce the organizations closest to our hearts. The ones that we’d like to lend a hand to and to start giving to, the ones we’d like to let know that someone cares. These are the groups doing the deeds that mean so much to us. Those rooted in kindness and compassion. Those promoting togetherness and striving for a better world. We’re sending them our hearts this Christmas and it’s our hope that you’ll do the same . . .
Here’s to Heiffer International, Kiva, Sensations Charitable Trust, Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, Charity.org, Walk4Good and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Here’s to Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and all those other amazing artists. Here’s to checking our egos and opening our eyes and here’s to standing together as one.
We are the World . . .
We are all connected.