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Creator and Artist Stories

Quincy Jones: Join the "We Are the World" Chorus Now

By Michele Flannery

Music Manager

It was 25 years ago when a star-studded supergroup, led by Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, came together to lend their voices to support an important cause. This song, "We Are The World," topped the charts and was the first-ever single to be certified multi-platinum. Within a year, nearly $50 million dollars were raised for Africa's humanitarian fund.

Today, YouTube, in partnership with Visa, presents "We Are The World 25 for Haiti," featuring more than 75 musicians and celebrities, including Miley Cyrus, Barbra Streisand, the Jonas Brothers, P!nk, Lil' Wayne, members of the Jackson Family and others singing to raise funds for earthquake relief in Haiti. Back in 1985, the original "We Are the World" aired on MTV and was sold on vinyl; the 25th anniversary edition can be viewed on the We Are The World YouTube channel, where there's a "Donate Now" button to help Haiti.

We asked Grammy-award winning producer Quincy Jones a few questions about the project. His answers are below, including his call for YouTube viewers to join the chorus by uploading their own version of a classic verse.

YT: What about the old version of "We Are the World" (WATW) still makes the song relevant today?

QJ: "First and foremost, Lionel and Michael wrote a great song. There is a saying that 'a great song can make a bad singer sound good, but the greatest singer in the world can’t make a bad song a hit.' The message of ‘We Are The World’ is universal and timeless. It’s a message of caring for and helping those who are less fortunate, especially when catastrophic events take place, as in the case of the earthquake in Haiti. Haiti was far from being in the best place on the planet before the earthquake, but when that happened, it just destroyed the country. How can you look at those images and not stand up and do something? Everyone recognized the need right away; it wasn’t hard to get mobilized."

YT: What's the importance of using YouTube to get the "WATW 25 for Haiti" message to a wider audience?

QJ: "Are you kidding me? When we talked about the coming ‘information age’ a decade ago, most people didn’t understand the immediate impact that it would have. With the stroke of a key on your keyboard or cell phone, images and messages can be transferred all around the world to hundreds of millions of people in seconds. That’s an enormous amount of power. How can you not try and harness that resource to help people in need?"

YT: How can "WATW 25 for Haiti" viewers on YouTube take action towards social change -- in the case of Haiti in particular?

QJ: "Well, first you can ‘Download to Donate,' but I would love to see everyone take it to the next level and get involved on a more personal level by posting video responses. But it doesn’t stop there. As long as you pay attention and are aware of what is going on in Haiti and places like Haiti around the world, there are always ways to get involved. People who are suffering and in need will never turn their backs on someone offering them a compassionate hand."

YT: YouTube viewers are encouraged to make their own videos with original lyrics based on the WATW chorus. What tips would you give these rising producers?

QJ: "I don’t know that I can give any tips, but I can tell you that I’m really looking forward to seeing the different interpretations that people come up with. There are some really talented, creative and funny people out there."

YT: What's your favorite YouTube video?

QJ: "Without a doubt I think it has to be the prisoners in the Philippines dancing to ‘Thriller.’ It’s amazing that more than 25 years later, that song and those albums -- Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad --still hold up. No matter where I go in the world, in every club, at midnight the DJs come with songs from those albums. It’s a perfect example of what I said earlier: a great song is universal and timeless."

Watch, sing along and donate your support.