USA for Africa

Five Charity Singles That Made A Difference

33 years ago today, USA for Africa started a four week run at #1 on the US charts with ‘We Are The World’!

The song proved to be a huge success, not only raising millions of dollars to fight famine in Ethiopia, but to start the conversation on the epidemic.

We’re looking at five songs where artists from all different backgrounds join forces to raise money for charity.


“We Are The World”

Performers: Dan Aykroyd, Harry Belafonte, Lindsey Buckingham, Kim Carnes, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Sheila E., Bob Geldof, Hall & Oates, James Ingram, Jackie Jackson, La Toya Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Michael Jackson, Randy Jackson, Tito Jackson, Al Jarreau, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis and the News, Kenny Loggins, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Jeffrey Osborne, David Paich, Steve Perry, The Pointer Sisters, Steve Porcaro, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder.

“We Are the World” over 20 million singles were sold to help solve the famine crisis and widespread disease in Africa, raising over $63 million in funds.


“Band Aid: Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Performers: Roger Daltrey, Phil Collins, Bob Geldof, Paul McCartney, Steve Norman, Chris Cross, John Taylor (Duran Duran), Kiss, Paul Young, Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet), Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17), Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran), Simon Crowe (The Boomtown Rats), Marilyn, Keren Woodward (Bananarama), Martin Kemp (Spandau Ballet), Jody Watley (Shalamar), Bono (U2), Paul Weller (The Style Council and The Jam), James “J.T.” Taylor (Kool & The Gang), George Michael (Wham!), Midge Ure (Ultravox), Martyn Ware (Heaven 17 and Human League), John Keeble (Spandau Ballet), Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet), Sting (The Police), Pete Briquette (The Boomtown Rats), Francis Rossi (Status Quo), Robert ‘Kool’ Bell (Kool & the Gang), Andy Taylor (Duran Duran), Jon Moss (Culture Club), Rick Parfitt (Status Quo), Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Johnny Fingers (The Boomtown Rats), David Bowie, Boy George (Culture Club), Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), Big Country.

The original Band Aid had an incredible list of iconic contributors. Over 6 million copies of the single was sold throughout the United States, UK, and Canada to fight famine in Ethiopia.


“Band Aid 30: Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Performers: Bob Geldof, One Direction, Bono, Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Chris Martin, Bastille, Elbow, Seal, Jessie Ware, Fuse ODG, Sinead O’Connor, Angelique Kidjo, Olly Murs, Paloma Faith, Queen drummer Roger Taylor, Clean Bandit, Karl Hyde, Joe Sugg, Alfie Deyes, Zoella, and Foals.

This update to the 1984 song featured many of the prominent UK artists of today, with some assistance from veterans like Bob Geldof, Roger Taylor, Bono, and Chris Martin. The song raised $1.7 million for Ebola relief in the first five minutes of collections, according to Geldof.


“Candle in the Wind 1997”

Performer: Elton John

Elton John’s re-recording of his 1973 song was released after the death of Princess Diana, benefitting the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. The song sold over 33 million copies worldwide, raising approximately $48 million, becoming the second-best selling song of all-time.


What’s Going On?

Performers: Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Mary J. Blige, Bono, Sean Combs, Destiny’s Child, Jermaine Dupri, Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, Eve, Gwen Stefani, Nelly Furtado, Nona Gaye, Darren Hayes, Wyclef Jean, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Aaron Lewis of Staind, Jennifer Lopez, Nas, Ja Rule, Nelly, *NSYNC, Michael Stipe of R.E.M., Usher, Chris Martin, The Edge, Elijah Blue, Perry Farrell, Scott Weiland, Wes Scantlin, Monica, Lil’ Kim, Jagged Edge, TLC, Faith Evans, Angie Martinez, Da Brat, Fabolous, LL Cool J, Mobb Deep, Noreaga, Queen Latifah, Royce Da 5’9″ and Sonja Blade

This all-star line-up featured the who’s who of pop, rap, and rock in 2001. Half the funds benefited the families of 9/11 victims while the other half went to fight AIDS.


Which charity song is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.

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