Leaving Neverland premiered at Sundance Film Festival last weekend (January 26) and will be shown on HBO and Channel 4. A release date for the television premiere has not yet been confirmed but it will be shown in spring 2019. Michael Jackson is known as the King of Pop and one of his hit songs was We Are the World.
Who co-wrote We Are The World with Michael Jackson?
Lionel Ritchie co-wrote We Are The World with Michael Jackson in the 1980s.
Ritchie is a well-known singer, songwriter and producer, best known for the songs Easy, Three Times a lady and All Night Long.
Originally Stevie Wonder was supposed to also co-write but due to other commitments, Jackson and Richie were the only songwriters.
The song was written at Jackson’s family home in Encino, Los Angeles.
Speaking to People, Jackson’s older sister La Toya said: “I’d go into the room while they were writing and it would be very quiet, which is odd, since Michael’s usually very cheery when he works. It was very emotional for them.”
The song was written as a charity single, originally recorded by the supergroup Unite Support of Artists (USA) for Africa in 1985.
The original record was co-produced by Quincy Jones, the 80 time Grammy nominated producer.
Jones and Jackson had worked together in the past on Jackson’s album Bad.
Following in the footsteps of Band Aids’ 1984 hit “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in the United Kingdom, Harry Belafonte and Ken Kragen had similar vision over in the United States.
The recording of the song began on January 22, 1985, and the final recording took place on January 28, 1985, finishing at 8am.
As artists entered the studio on the evening on January 28, there was reportedly a sign reading “Check your egos at the door” at A&M Studios in Los Angeles.
The recording brought to gather 45 of the most famous artists in the music industry.
Vocals featuring on the original We Are The World include:
- Cyndi Lauper
- Bill Joel
- Michael Jackson
- Kenny Rogers
- Lionel Richie
- Diana Ross
- James Ingram
- Tina Turner
- Bruce Springsteen
- Smokey Robinson
- Ray Charles
- Stevie Wonder
- Paul Simon
- Willie Nelson
- Bob Dylan
- Dionne Warwick
- Al Jarreau
- Kenny Loggins
- Steve Perry
- Daryl Hall
- Huey Lewis
- Kim Carnes
The single was released in March 1985 and was number one across the world and at the time was the fastest-selling American pop single in history.
The song went on to win three Grammy Awards, one American Music Award and a People’s Choice Award.
Michael Jackson performed the song at the 1993 Super Bowl half-time show.
The Superbowl performance stands out as one of Jackson’s most memorable performances of his career.
The children of Los Angeles created their own personal drawings they held up and these individual drawings made larger images of children holding hands which covered the stadium.
Jackson was then joined on stage by crowds of children who were singing along and a choir.
Following the Haiti earthquake in January 2010, the song was re-recorded and titled We Are The World 25 for Haiti.
Artists in the 2010 version of We Are The World included:
- Justin Bieber
- Nicole Scherzinger
- Jennifer Hudson
- Michael Jackson
- Janet Jackson
- Miley Cyrus
- Barbra Streisand
- Enrique Iglesias
- Jamie Foxx
- Adam Levine
- Celine Dion
- Nick Jonas
- Lil Wayne
- Snoop Dogg
- Busta Rhymes
- Kid Cudi
- Kanye West
What is Leaving Neverland about?
Leaving Neverland comes from BAFTA-winning director Dan Reed, who was behind HBO’s Terror documentary series and From Russia with Cash.
The documentary will investigate the allegations of sexual abuse and child molestation made against Jackson during and after his career.
The documentary is told largely from the viewpoint of two of Jacksons’ alleged victims.
In 1993, child abuse allegations surfaced but were settled out of court.
In 2003, Jackson was arrested on seven counts of child molestation but was acquitted on all counts after a trial in 2005.
The official Sundance synopsis reads: “As one of the world’s most celebrated icons, Michael Jackson represents many things to many people – a pop star, a humanitarian, a beloved idol.
“When allegations of sexual abuse by Jackson involving young boys surfaced in 1993, many found it hard to believe that the King of Pop could be guilty of such unspeakable acts.”
Following the news of the documentary premiering at Sundance, Michael Jackson’s official estate issued a statement.
It reads: “This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.
“This so-called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project.”
Leaving Neverland is coming to HBO and Channel 4 soon