The 1985 charity single “We Are The World” captivated audiences worldwide with its star-studded chorus of 45 voices from the worlds of music and Hollywood. An original soloist sheet music autographed by performers Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan and many more will highlight Sotheby’s Fine Books and Manuscripts online sale (18–28 June). Below learn the story behind the tune.
Taking inspiration from Band Aid’s 1984 hit charity song “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” famed musician and activist Harry Belafonte decided to form his own musical super-group, U.S.A. for Africa, to help raise funds to fight the famine that was then plaguing Ethiopia. "We are the World" – the song that emerged from these efforts – would go on to become one of the fastest- and best-selling singles of the modern pop era, and a great fundraising success. Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones, the song was performed by 45 icons of the music and movies industries.
In a behind-the-scenes video documenting the rehearsal process, a number of performers commented on the autograph frenzy that broke out midway through recording: "Mass hysteria broke out because everybody wanted everybody else's autograph" — "Everyone wanted a memento that we could all keep ourselves, and we had the sheet music and had all the other artist's sign it."
The present soloist lead sheet is autographed by at least 21 of the 45 performers, including: Lindsey Buckingham, Kim Carnes, Bob Dylan, Daryl Hall, James Ingram, Michael Jackson, La Toya Jackson, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis, Kenny Loggins, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Steve Perry, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, and Tina Turner.