EXCLUSIVE: This column has learned that Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie are planning a massive 25th anniversary re-recording of “We Are the World.”
The timing couldn’t be better, sadly enough.
The duo is summoning lots and lots of talent from Grammy weekend to stay an extra night — Monday Feb. 1 — and come to the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. There, they will celebrate a quarter century since Ken Kragen, Richie and Michael Jackson organized the original “We Are the World” with Quincy.
This time the artists invited include Usher, Natalie Cole, and John Legend. But you can bet that more names will be added shortly and that all the Grammy nominees and participants will be asked to come as well. Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich will produce the event, which will then be turned into a video and single just like it was in 1985. Don’t be surprised if Wyclef Jean joins in, along with Sting, Fergie, Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake and other distinctive voices.
It’s hoped that as in 1985, everyone will “leave their egos at the door.”
Originally, this anniversary celebration was to be held on Jan. 28. But when the Haiti earthquake happened, sources tell me, the whole deal changed. Now proceeds will go to Haiti relief. In 1985, “We Are the World,” which begat Live Aid, raised money for Africa relief.
Plans are still sketchy, but one thing’s for sure: In some way, the song’s co-author Michael Jackson will be invoked. AEG is co-producing this event. They’re also putting together a 3D tribute to Michael for the Grammy show from elements Jackson was going to use for his tour. Jackson recorded “We Are the World” for what became “This Is It.” Surely he’ll be included here as well, which will make the whole project even more poignant.
Stay tuned. PS: Quincy Jones is about to release what has been described to me as a landmark new album that he’s made with contemporary R&B and hip hop artists. He was responsible for the original “We Are the World” and will guide the new one. He is not a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in case you were wondering.