This being the birthdays of both Ray Charles (b. 1930) and Bruce Springsteen (b. 1949), the song We Are the World came to mind. Both singers had significant solos on the track.
Let’s back up. Back in 1983-1985, there was a terrible famine in Ethiopia. In reaction to the television reports, Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats) and Midge Ure (Ultravox, Thin Lizzy) wrote Do They Know It’s Christmas? in 1984. “It was first recorded in a single day on 25 November 1984 by Band Aid, a supergroup put together by Geldof and Ure and consisting mainly of the biggest British and Irish musical acts at the time.” It was re-recorded three times: in 1989, 2004, and 2014 for various charities.
American singer Harry Belafonte thought that if a bunch of Brits could do this, what could Americans do? Initially thinking of a benefit concert, Belafonte was convinced by “Ken Kragen, who managed an impressive roster of talent, that they could raise more money and make a bigger impact with an original song; Belafonte agreed…”
From Rolling Stone: “‘Check your egos at the door’ read the sign on the front door of A&M Studios in Los Angeles on the night of January 28th, 1985. Producer Quincy Jones had placed it there because dozens of the nation’s biggest singers were walking through that door, and he had exactly one night to cut a record that would save lives by raising money to help alleviate a famine in Ethiopia.
“The result, USA for Africa’s We Are the World, was released… on March 7th, 1985, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. By all accounts, some people, especially the rockers, didn’t particularly like the song. But it was Springsteen who refused to undermine the process and kept that faction in check.
Here are the lyrics, with indicators of the soloists.
The success of the Band Aid and USA for Africa singles led to benefit concerts such as Live Aid, also in 1985 and the various Farm Aid concerts.
I didn’t buy the single which was #1 for four weeks on the pop charts and two weeks on the soul charts (and #76 on the country charts) and sold four million copies in the US alone. I bought the album, which also sold well, but was lightly regarded.
Queen at Live Aid here
We are the World (2010), for Haiti here
The making of We Are the World here