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USA for Africa

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USA for Africa
We Are the World alternative cover.jpg
Logo of USA for Africa
Background information
Also known asUnited Support of Artists for Africa
OriginUnited States
Years active1985
Past membersSee Performers
WebsiteUSAforAfrica.org

United Support of Artists for Africa (USA for Africa) was the name under which 47 predominantly U.S. artists, led by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, recorded the hit single "We Are the World" in 1985. The song was a U.S. and UK number one for the collective in April of that year.[1]

The idea started when Harry Belafonte was inspired by Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?". Belafonte then contacted Ken Kragen to recruit participants.[2] Soon after, Quincy Jones was hired to conduct and co-produce the album.[3]

The considerable profits from the enterprise went to the USA for Africa Foundation, which used them for the relief of famine and disease in Africa and specifically to 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia.[4]

USA for Africa also held a benefit event, Hands Across America, in which approximately seven million people held hands in a human chain for fifteen minutes along a path across the continental United States. Participants paid ten dollars to stand in line and the money raised was used to fight hunger and homelessness in Africa.[5]

The combined revenues raised from the sales of "We Are the World" and Hands Across America was almost $100 million.[6][7]

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United States

United States

The United States of America, commonly known as the United States or informally America, is a country in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territories, nine Minor Outlying Islands, and 326 Indian reservations. It is the third-largest country by both land and total area. The United States shares land borders with Canada to its north and with Mexico to its south. It has maritime borders with the Bahamas, Cuba, Russia, and other nations. With a population of over 331 million, it is the third most populous country in the world. The national capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city and financial center is New York City.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

Michael Joseph Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, dancer, and philanthropist. Dubbed the "King of Pop", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century. Over a four-decade career, his contributions to music, dance, and fashion, along with his publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture. Jackson influenced artists across many music genres; through stage and video performances, he popularized complicated dance moves such as the moonwalk, to which he gave the name, as well as the robot. He is the most awarded musician in history.

Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie

Lionel Brockman Richie Jr. is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and television personality. He rose to fame in the 1970s as a songwriter and the co-lead singer of funk band the Commodores; writing and recording the hit singles "Easy", "Sail On", "Three Times a Lady" and "Still", with the group before his departure. In 1980, he wrote and produced the US Billboard Hot 100 number one single "Lady" for Kenny Rogers. The following year, he wrote and produced the single "Endless Love", which he recorded as a duet with Diana Ross; it remains among the top 20 bestselling singles of all time, and the biggest career hit for both artists. In 1982, he officially launched his solo career with the album Lionel Richie, which sold over four million copies and spawned the singles "You Are", "My Love", and the number one single "Truly".

Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte is an American singer, activist, and actor. As arguably the most successful Jamaican-American pop star, he popularized the Trinbagonian Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s. His breakthrough album Calypso (1956) was the first million-selling LP by a single artist.

Band Aid (band)

Band Aid (band)

Band Aid were a charity supergroup featuring mainly British and Irish musicians and recording artists. It was founded in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for anti-famine efforts in Ethiopia by releasing the song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" for the Christmas market that year. On 25 November 1984, the song was recorded at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, and was released in the UK on Monday 3 December. The single surpassed the hopes of the producers to become the Christmas number one on that release. Three re-recordings of the song to raise further money for charity also topped the charts, first the Band Aid II version in 1989 and the Band Aid 20 version in 2004 and finally the Band Aid 30 version in 2014. The original was produced by Ure. The 12" version was mixed by Trevor Horn.

Do They Know It's Christmas?

Do They Know It's Christmas?

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" is a charity song written in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for the 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia. It was first recorded by Band Aid, a supergroup assembled by Geldof and Ure consisting of popular British and Irish musical acts at the time. It was recorded in a single day at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, in November 1984.

Ken Kragen

Ken Kragen

Kenneth Allan Kragen was an American music manager, television producer, author, speaker, and non-profit consultant, best known for his role in organizing the 1985 benefit record "We Are the World" and the 1986 charity event Hands Across America.

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones

Quincy Delight Jones Jr. is an American record producer, musician, songwriter, composer, arranger, and film and television producer. His career spans 70 years in the entertainment industry with a record of 80 Grammy Award nominations, 28 Grammys, and a Grammy Legend Award in 1992.

Africa

Africa

Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.4 billion people as of 2021, it accounts for about 18% of the world's human population. Africa's population is the youngest amongst all the continents; the median age in 2012 was 19.7, when the worldwide median age was 30.4. Despite a wide range of natural resources, Africa is the least wealthy continent per capita and second-least wealthy by total wealth, behind Oceania. Scholars have attributed this to different factors including geography, climate, tribalism, colonialism, the Cold War, neocolonialism, lack of democracy, and corruption. Despite this low concentration of wealth, recent economic expansion and the large and young population make Africa an important economic market in the broader global context.

1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia

1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia

A widespread famine affected Ethiopia from 1983 to 1985. The worst famine to hit the country in a century, it affected 7.75 million people and left approximately 300,000 to 1.2 million dead. 2.5 million people were internally displaced whereas 400,000 refugees left Ethiopia. Almost 200,000 children were orphaned.

Hands Across America

Hands Across America

Hands Across America was a public fundraising event on Sunday, May 25, 1986, when 5 to 6.5 million people held hands for 15 minutes in an attempt to form a continuous human chain across the contiguous United States. The attempt to have a complete line of people across the country failed, although the number of participants would have been sufficient to succeed if they had been spread out over the full length of the planned course. The various gaps in the line between participants were filled using ribbons, ropes, or banners.

Human chain (politics)

Human chain (politics)

A human chain is a form of demonstration in which people link arms or hands as a show of political solidarity.

We Are the World album

We Are the World, their only album, released with the following tracks:

  1. "We Are the World" - (USA for Africa)
  2. "If Only for the Moment, Girl" - (Steve Perry)
  3. "Just a Little Closer" - (The Pointer Sisters)
  4. "Trapped" - (Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band)
  5. "Tears Are Not Enough" - (Northern Lights)
  6. "4 the Tears in Your Eyes" - (Prince & The Revolution)
  7. "Good for Nothing" - (Chicago)
  8. "Total Control" - (Tina Turner)
  9. "A Little More Love" - (Kenny Rogers)
  10. "Trouble in Paradise" - (Huey Lewis and the News)

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The Pointer Sisters

The Pointer Sisters

The Pointer Sisters are an American pop and R&B singing group from Oakland, California, that achieved mainstream success during the 1970s and 1980s. Their repertoire has included such diverse genres as pop, jazz, electronic music, bebop, blues, soul, funk, dance, country, and rock. The Pointer Sisters have won three Grammy Awards and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994. The group had 13 US top 20 hits between 1973 and 1985.

Trapped (Jimmy Cliff song)

Trapped (Jimmy Cliff song)

"Trapped" is a 1972 song written and recorded by reggae artist Jimmy Cliff and popularized by Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s.

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen is an American singer and songwriter. He has released 21 studio albums, most of which feature his backing band, the E Street Band. Originally from the Jersey Shore, he is an originator of heartland rock, combining mainstream rock musical styles with narrative songs about working class American life. Nicknamed "The Boss", his career has spanned six decades. Springsteen is known for his poetic, socially conscious lyrics and energetic stage performances, sometimes lasting up to four hours.

E Street Band

E Street Band

The E Street Band is an American rock band, and has been musician Bruce Springsteen's primary backing band since 1972. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. For the bulk of Springsteen's recording and performing career, the band consisted of: guitarists Steven Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren, and Patti Scialfa, keyboardists Danny Federici and Roy Bittan, bassist Garry Tallent, drummer Max Weinberg, and saxophonist Clarence Clemons.

Tears Are Not Enough

Tears Are Not Enough

"Tears Are Not Enough" is a 1985 charity single recorded by a supergroup of Canadian artists, under the name Northern Lights, to raise funds for relief of the 1983–85 famine in Ethiopia. It was one of a number of such supergroup singles recorded between December 1984 and April 1985, along with Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" in the United Kingdom, USA for Africa's "We Are the World" in the United States, "Cantaré, cantarás" by a supergroup of Latin American and Spanish singers, Chanteurs sans Frontières's "Éthiopie" in France, and Fondation Québec-Afrique's "Les Yeux de la faim" in Quebec.

Prince (musician)

Prince (musician)

Prince Rogers Nelson, more commonly known mononymously as Prince, was an American singer-songwriter, musician, and record producer. The recipient of numerous awards and nominations, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his generation. He was known for his flamboyant, androgynous persona; his wide vocal range, which included a far-reaching falsetto and high-pitched screams; and his skill as a multi-instrumentalist, often preferring to play all or most of the instruments on his recordings. Prince produced his albums himself, pioneering the Minneapolis sound. His music incorporated a wide variety of styles, including funk, R&B, rock, new wave, soul, synth-pop, pop, jazz, and hip hop.

The Revolution (band)

The Revolution (band)

The Revolution is an American band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1979 by Prince, serving as his live band and later as his studio band. The band's sound incorporated rock, pop, R&B, funk, new wave and psychedelic elements. Along with Prince's other projects, the Revolution helped create the Minneapolis sound. By the time of their 1986 breakup, the Revolution had backed Prince on two studio albums, two soundtracks and two videos.

Chicago (band)

Chicago (band)

Chicago is an American rock band formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1967. The group began calling themselves the Chicago Transit Authority in 1968, then shortened the name in 1969. Self-described as a "rock and roll band with horns", Chicago's songs often combine elements of classical music, jazz, R&B, and pop music.

Total Control (song)

Total Control (song)

"Total Control" is a song by American new wave band the Motels. It was released in 1979 as the second single from their debut studio album Motels. The song failed to make an appearance on the US Billboard Hot 100, but reached number 9 on the Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart in December 1979. It fared better in Australasia, peaking at number 7 in Australia and 11 in New Zealand. The song has been covered by American singer Tina Turner and Australian singer Missy Higgins.

Tina Turner

Tina Turner

Tina Turner is an American-born Swiss singer and actress. Widely referred to as the "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll", she rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue before launching a successful career as a solo performer.

Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers

Kenneth Ray Rogers was an American singer, songwriter, and actor. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013. Rogers was particularly popular with country audiences but also charted more than 120 hit singles across various genres, topping the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks in the United States alone. He sold more than 100 million records worldwide during his lifetime, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. His fame and career spanned multiple genres: jazz, folk, pop, rock, and country. He remade his career and was one of the most successful cross-over artists of all time.

Huey Lewis and the News

Huey Lewis and the News

Huey Lewis and the News is an American rock band based in San Francisco, California. They had a run of hit singles during the 1980s and early 1990s, eventually achieving 19 top ten singles across the Billboard Hot 100, Adult Contemporary, and Mainstream Rock charts. Their sound draws upon earlier pop, rhythm & blues and doo-wop artists, and their own material has been labeled as blue-eyed soul, new wave, power pop, and roots rock.

Performers

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Dan Aykroyd

Dan Aykroyd

Daniel Edward Aykroyd is a Canadian actor, comedian, producer, musician and writer. He was an original member of the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" on Saturday Night Live (1975–1979). During his tenure on SNL, Aykroyd appeared in a recurring series of sketches about the Coneheads, and the Blues Brothers. For his work on the show he received five Primetime Emmy Award nominations winning for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series in 1977. After his departure, he has since returned in guest roles.

Canada

Canada

Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern and western border with the United States, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest binational land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte is an American singer, activist, and actor. As arguably the most successful Jamaican-American pop star, he popularized the Trinbagonian Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s. His breakthrough album Calypso (1956) was the first million-selling LP by a single artist.

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac are a British-American rock band, formed in London in 1967. Fleetwood Mac were founded by guitarist Peter Green, drummer Mick Fleetwood and guitarist Jeremy Spencer, before bassist John McVie joined the line-up for their self-titled debut album. Danny Kirwan joined as a third guitarist in 1968. Keyboardist and vocalist Christine Perfect, who contributed as a session musician from the second album, married McVie and joined in 1970.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter. Often regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Dylan has been a major figure in popular culture during a career spanning more than 60 years. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" (1963) and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" (1964) became anthems for the civil rights and antiwar movements. His lyrics during this period incorporated a range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defying pop music conventions and appealing to the burgeoning counterculture.

Bob Geldof

Bob Geldof

Robert Frederick Zenon Geldof is an Irish singer-songwriter, and political activist. He rose to prominence in the late 1970s as lead singer of the Irish rock band the Boomtown Rats, who achieved popularity as part of the punk rock movement. The band had UK number one hits with his compositions "Rat Trap" and "I Don't Like Mondays". Geldof starred as "Pink" in Pink Floyd's 1982 film Pink Floyd – The Wall. As a fundraiser, Geldof organised the charity supergroup Band Aid and the concerts Live Aid and Live 8, and co-wrote "Do They Know It's Christmas?", one of the best-selling singles of all time.

Band Aid (band)

Band Aid (band)

Band Aid were a charity supergroup featuring mainly British and Irish musicians and recording artists. It was founded in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for anti-famine efforts in Ethiopia by releasing the song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" for the Christmas market that year. On 25 November 1984, the song was recorded at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, and was released in the UK on Monday 3 December. The single surpassed the hopes of the producers to become the Christmas number one on that release. Three re-recordings of the song to raise further money for charity also topped the charts, first the Band Aid II version in 1989 and the Band Aid 20 version in 2004 and finally the Band Aid 30 version in 2014. The original was produced by Ure. The 12" version was mixed by Trevor Horn.

Hall & Oates

Hall & Oates

Daryl Hall and John Oates are an American pop rock duo formed in Philadelphia in 1970. Daryl Hall is generally the lead vocalist; John Oates primarily plays electric guitar and provides backing vocals. The two write most of the songs they perform, separately or in collaboration. They achieved their greatest fame from the mid-1970s to the late-1980s with a fusion of rock and roll, soul music and rhythm and blues.

Daryl Hall

Daryl Hall

Daryl Franklin Hohl, known professionally as Daryl Hall, is an American rock, R&B and soul singer and musician, best known as the co-founder and principal lead vocalist of Daryl Hall and John Oates. Outside of his work in Hall & Oates, he has also released five solo albums, including the 1980 progressive rock collaboration with guitarist Robert Fripp titled Sacred Songs and the 1986 album Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine, which provided his best selling single, "Dreamtime", that peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. He has also collaborated on numerous works by other artists, such as Fripp's 1979 release Exposure, and Dusty Springfield's 1995 album A Very Fine Love, which produced a UK Top 40 hit with "Wherever Would I Be". Since late 2007, he has hosted the streaming television series Live from Daryl's House, in which he performs alongside other artists, doing a mix of songs from each's catalog. The show has been rebroadcast on a number of cable and satellite channels as well.

James Ingram

James Ingram

James Edward Ingram was an American singer, songwriter and record producer. He was a two-time Grammy Award-winner and a two-time Academy Award nominee for Best Original Song. After beginning his career in 1973, Ingram charted eight Top 40 hits on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart from the early 1980s until the early 1990s, as well as thirteen top 40 hits on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In addition, he charted 20 hits on the Adult Contemporary chart. He had two number-one singles on the Hot 100: the first, a duet with fellow R&B artist Patti Austin, 1982's "Baby, Come to Me" topped the U.S. pop chart in 1983; "I Don't Have the Heart", which became his second number-one in 1990 was his only number-one as a solo artist.

Jackie Jackson

Jackie Jackson

Sigmund Esco "Jackie" Jackson is an American singer and songwriter best known as a founding member of the Jackson 5, for which he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Jackson is the second child of the Jackson family, and the oldest Jackson brother.

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson

Janet Damita Jo Jackson is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer. She is noted for her innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, as well as elaborate stage shows. Her sound and choreography became a catalyst in the growth of MTV, enabling her to rise to prominence while breaking gender and racial barriers in the process. Lyrical content which focused on social issues and lived experiences set her reputation as a role model for youth.

Legacy

Australian climate protest in 2019
Australian climate protest in 2019

USA for Africa has had a lasting legacy. It has been used as a symbol for the 80s and unity. Every year the group raises half a million dollars. It has been suggested that a new group similar to We Are the World 25 for Haiti be formed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[8] Since the death of Michael Jackson on June 25, 2009, and numerous other members it has been speculated if the group will ever reunite again.

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1980s

1980s

The 1980s was a decade that began January 1, 1980 and ended December 31, 1989.

We Are the World 25 for Haiti

We Are the World 25 for Haiti

"We Are the World 25 for Haiti" is a charity single recorded by the supergroup Artists for Haiti in 2010. It is a remake of the song "We Are the World", which was written by American musicians Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and was recorded by USA for Africa in 1985 to benefit famine relief in Africa. Initially, in late 2009, it had been suggested to Richie and Quincy Jones—producer of the original "We Are the World"—that a re-cut version of the song be re-released under the title "Live 25". Following the magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake in Haiti in early 2010, which devastated most of the country and killed thousands of people, it was agreed that the song would be re-recorded by new artists, in the hope that it would reach a new generation and help benefit the people of Haiti.

COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The novel virus was first identified from an outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Attempts to contain failed, allowing the virus to spread to other areas of Asia and later worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January 2020 and a pandemic on 11 March 2020. As of 24 November 2022, the pandemic had caused more than 639 million cases and 6.62 million confirmed deaths, making it one of the deadliest in history.

Death of Michael Jackson

Death of Michael Jackson

On June 25, 2009, American singer Michael Jackson died of acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication at his home on North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. His physician, Conrad Murray, said that he found Jackson in his room not breathing and with a weak pulse; he administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to no avail, and security called 9-1-1 at 12:21 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (UTC–7). Paramedics treated Jackson at the scene, but he was pronounced dead at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Source: "USA for Africa", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_for_Africa.

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See also
References
  1. ^ Breihan, Tom (28 September 2020). "The Number Ones: USA For Africa's "We Are The World"". Stereogum. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  2. ^ McDougal, Dennis (26 January 1986). "USA FOR AFRICA: READY TO HELP THE USA". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  3. ^ Runtagh, Jordan (28 January 2019). "Flashback: Music Stars Record 'We Are the World' on January 28, 1985". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  4. ^ May, Clifford D. (26 June 1985). "'WE ARE THE WORLD' MEETS A CONTINENT OF MISERY". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  5. ^ Klein, Christopher (22 August 2018). "Remembering Hands Across America". History. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  6. ^ Reports, Staff (27 September 2013). "USA for Africa: Making a Difference Since 1985". Borgen Magazine. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  7. ^ De Atley, Richard (6 January 1987). "USA for Africa Spent Money Slowly". Associated Press. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  8. ^ "LIONEL RICHIE WANTS TO REVIVE USA FOR AFRICA'S "WE ARE THE WORLD" TO BATTLE CORONAVIRUS". Totally 80s. 2020. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
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