In January 2010, a massive earthquake hit the nation of Haiti, which claimed the lives of 230,000 people and left nearly a million without homes. As people around the world came forward to help the beleaguered nation, a number of celebrities lent their support to fund-raising efforts for Haitian relief. Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie had created an iconic benefit record in 1985 with “We Are the World,” a single that brought together many of the biggest music stars of the day to help fight famine in Africa, and after the earthquake Jones and Richie helped produce a new recording of the song to raise awareness and needed funds for Haiti. Sessions took place at Henson Recording Studios (where the 1985 “We Are the World” was recorded) on February 1, 2010; vocal soloists included Tony Bennett, Justin Bieber, Mary J. Blige, Miley Cyrus, Celine Dion, Fergie, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, Janet Jackson, Wyclef Jean (who also served as a producer), Nick Jonas, Lil Wayne, Pink, Usher, Barbra Streisand and Kanye West. The 2010 update of the song also featured a rap section, including hip-hop stars Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg, Swizz Beatz and will.i.am.
Nearly a hundred musical celebrities appeared on the recording, which was released on February 12, 2010 as a CD single and digital download. The single reached the Top Ten in ten different countries and spawned a cover version, in which singer/songwriter Lisa Lavie and over 50 unsigned and independent artists with material on YouTube created an on-line video performance to boost awareness of the Haitian crisis.