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"We are the world" began as an idea suggested by Harry Belafonte. Ethiopia in the mid-1980's was faced with a critical food shortage in areas of the country populated by people who did not support the government in power.
The summary of the lyrics is that the song makes the case that all persons on Earth are connected and that people from one place or group can not ignore the needs of others. "There are people dying...And it's time to lend a hand to life, the greatest gift of all." The song doesn't deny the distress and peril in other parts of the world, but affirms that people not only can but must take action to help those in need.
When you're down and out
There seems no hope at all
But if you just believe
There's no way we can fall...
That one change can only come
When we stand together as one.
Harry Belafonte originally suggested that musicians in the United States come together and donate their talents to the production of a song that could become an anthem of hope for the starving and oppressed people of Ethiopia, with sales of the song going to help fund relief efforts. Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie collaborated to compose the music and write the lyrics, Quincy Jones produced the recording, and performers who joined the chorus included
Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kim Carnes, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan, Anne Murray, Kenny Rogers, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, and Dionne Warwick.
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