Artists for Haiti: The Collaborative Project That Brought Together Thousands

Miranda Vargo is a clarinetist and singer, and a music education major at William Paterson University of New Jersey. She went to Warren Hills Regional High School in Washington, Warren County, New Jersey. On the side, she knits and crochets, and runs an Etsy shop, along with taking custom orders from William Paterson students. She came to William Paterson because the minute she stepped foot on campus, she felt like she was at home. This year she will be graduating with her B. M. in K-12 Music Education.


Artists for Haiti: The Collaborative Project That Brought Together Thousands


When we think about the power of music, we often think intrinsically; we think of the emotions that music makes us feel in our hearts and minds when we listen to it. We may think of how it brings people together in a general sense, but sometimes the specifics of how music can help affect change in a positive way are hard to grasp.

One of my favorite examples of how music has brought people together and helped make a positive impact on the world is the song “We Are the World”, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. This song was first recorded to help combat famine in Africa in the 80s. It was re-recorded in 2010 to help raise funds for Haiti after the earthquake that killed thousands and displaced/injured even more.

After its re-recording in 2010, the video was released, featuring not only dozens of artists from all walks of life, but also video footage, from the original recording session, of Michael Jackson singing the song. The song was a huge hit and was downloaded over 267,000 in three days (sourced from the Wikipedia article).

Though the song was very popular upon its original release and its re-release, the re-release fell under some critical commentary for a number of reasons. One of the primary criticisms that the artists came under was the fact that Justin Bieber was given the opening solo; this is a criticism that I must say I tend to agree with. 

Despite these criticisms, the song overall was a massive hit, just like it was in the 80s. When they originally were getting people together to record the song, the artists who started the process wanted to take the time to do this the right way even though the timing was fairly urgent. When they sent out word of what their plan was, I believe they got a far more aggressively positive response than they had bargained for. This led to the featuring of dozens of artists throughout the video. 

The artists who performed in the collaboration spanned decades in age, and genres of music, yet were all brought together by the power of music to perform this collaborative work in support of Haitian people displaced, injured and killed by the earthquake of 2010. This group of artists put aside personal commitments and schedules to get together to collaborate on this song and raise money and awareness for Haiti. That, to me, is the power of music.

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