Briefly summarize the song "We Are the World" by Michael Jackson.

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"We Are the World" is a single Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie co-wrote with the goal of bringing much-needed attention to areas in Africa, Ethopia particularly, which had been devastated by drought, leading to the starvation of millions. Jackson and Richie sought to use their influence to reach people through music, raising both awareness and money for people desperately trying to survive. Long before the days of social media and almost instant global news, this level of influence toward relief for Africa was a historic undertaking.

The song's lyrics serve to unite people in possession of resources with those in dire need of help. The song can be summarized as follows:

There are times when the people of the world must lend a hand to help each other. People are dying in their need. We can't go on waiting for someone else in some other place to do the work that needs to be done. We should love each other. We are all connected to each other. Let's give of our resources to help each other. Help people to let them know that someone cares about them. Have hope and believe that together, we can make a difference.

The refrain of "We are the world/ We are the children" is repeated numerous times at the end of the song to compel the audience to believe in the message of interconnectedness and to also bring needed emphasis to the children of Africa in particular. These starving children are the responsibility of the world—they are our children.

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Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie are credited with co-writing the 1985 anthem meant to raise money for famine relief. It was recorded by an all-star "supergroup" ensemble, USA for Africa, in Los Angeles and produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian. Following its March release, it charted at number one and won numerous awards. Most importantly, it raised over 63 million dollars for African relief.

The opening two verses of the song point out that "there are people dying" and that it is wrong to think that someone besides ourselves will step up to solve the problem. A Christian perspective is offered with a reference to "God ... turning stones to bread" as an allusion to the miracle of alleviating hunger.

The song makes frequent use of the collective pronoun "we" to underscore the need for humanity to work together to alleviate global suffering. The lyrics exhort people to be generous and offers the reminder that together, we literally make up the world's population. By helping others, it proposes, we ultimately help ourselves.

The chorus is repeated nearly a dozen times; for practical purposes, it allows for solos by the famous artists involved in the project. The repetition also serves to drive home the point that "there but for the grace of God go I"—in other words, people do not seek to live lives of privation, but many are subject to this situation through no fault of their own.

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“We Are the World” was written by...

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the late Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones. The song was a response to the wide-scale famine which was then occurring in Ethiopia, an East African country suffering the effects of endemic poverty.

Certain parts of the world have historically (circa the twentieth century) attracted attention for the wrong reasons, mainly for their propensity for man-made and natural disasters. During the 1970s and 1980s, Ethiopia was one such case. Government mismanagement combined with drought resulted in a famine with many deaths and incalculable suffering. The scale of the tragedy was such that most governments were seemingly paralyzed by inaction. In an effort at both drawing attention to the plight of the Ethiopian people and raising money for famine relief, Jackson wrote “We Are the World” and enlisted scores of well-known recording artists to participate in the production.

“We Are the World” was a call to action. By involving so many famous singers, including Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Billie Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and many others, Jackson, Richie and Jones hoped to galvanize the American public into donating financially to famine relief for East Africa. The song’s lyrics emphasize the importance of individual and collective action and the inadequacy of official responses. Note in the following stanza the song’s emphasis on individual action as an essential component in achieving the stated goal:

We can't go on pretending day by day

That someone, somehow will soon make a change

We are all a part of God's great big family

And the truth, you know

Love is all we need

The song’s commercial success—it generated revenues of over $60 million—proved a much needed contribution to the efforts at alleviating poverty in Africa.

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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...Let's realize...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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