In 1985, producer Quincy Jones gave Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson the assignment of a lifetime. To help fight famine in Africa, he wanted them to write a song for the most famous artists in the music industry to sing together. On his upcoming “Oprah’s Master Class” interview, Richie reflects on creating the song that would become an anthem heard worldwide.
“Quincy walks in the door and says, ‘I need the song now,‘” Richie says. “And a day later, we had the bones for ‘We Are the World.'”
Now, it was just a matter or recruiting the talent. “Back then you couldn’t email it,” he says. “You had to put it on a cassette and send it to people. So we had people agreeing to be involved with a song they haven’t heard yet.”
The historic recording brought together an unprecedented number of artists, including Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Tina Turner, Bob Dylan and Cyndi Lauper.
“And of course, what [the song] did do was beyond our wildest imagination,” Richie says. “We became a country unto itself. We became the world.”
“Oprah’s Master Class” with Lionel Richie airs Sunday, June 22 at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.
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