On January 12, 2010, at 21:53 UTC, (4:53 pm local time) Haiti was struck by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake, the country's most severe earthquake in over 200 years. The epicenter of the quake was just outside the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. It has been estimated that the death toll could reach 200,000. Widespread damage resulted from the quake. The capital city was devastated.
Prior to the earthquake, Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie had planned to organize a re-recording of "We Are the World" on January 28, 2010 — the 25th anniversary of the original recording of the song. However, due to the devastation caused in Haiti, these plans were postponed. The new version of the song was recorded on February 1, 2010. Over 75 musicians were involved in the recording, which was held in the same place as the original. Also similar to the 1985 process, some of the participating musicians were already in Los Angeles to attend an awards ceremony: the 52nd Grammy Awards. The new version will feature updated lyrics and music, as well as a rap segment pertaining to Haiti. According to Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson's younger sister Janet will take her late brother's part in the song. The production team for the song include RedOne and musical director Ricky Minor. Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean will also serve as a producer.
At the time of the recording, numerous artists commented on the process, the 1985 version of the song and co-writer Michael Jackson. R&B singer ...