Lionel Richie helped renew a pledge of global togetherness on Sunday’s (May 17) finale of American Idol, gathering some of the show’s all-time favorites for a reprisal of “We Are the World.”
Featuring Richie alongside judges Luke Bryan and Katy Perry, plus the season’s Top 11 finalists and some of the show’s famous alumni, the new version brings the classic unity anthem into a new era. Finalists Arthur Gunn, Dillon James, Francisco Martin, Grace Leer, Jonny West, Jovin Webb, Julia Gargano, Just Sam, Louis Knight, Makayla Phillips and Sophia James all contributed, offering soaring vocal runs and uplifting positivity alongside previous winners and standouts like Fantasia Barrino, Gabby Barrett, Jordin Sparks, Kellie Pickler, Lauren Alaina, Phillip Phillips and Scotty McCreery.
Richie spearheaded the original “We Are the World” in 1985, co-writing the track alongside Michael Jackson and enlisting an all-star cast that included Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen and many more. The first-of-its-kind collaboration was used to raise millions for African famine relief, and since then its done the same for victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Now Richie sees the COVID-19 pandemic as another crisis the song could help address … and thinks the American Idol contestants help send a powerful message.
“We’ve done the all-star cast and it was historic,” he told Billboard about the track. “These kids inspire me with their talent and they reflect the diversity of the world.”