Lin-Manuel Miranda's Charity Single 'Almost Like Praying' Only Took Two Weeks to Complete: How It Went Down

When Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, Hamilton creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda started noticing that his Facebook and Twitter feed were becoming a "roll call of towns," with his friends and family members reaching out to see if anyone had heard from Puerto Ricans towns such as Utuado, Vieques and San Juan. This is when Miranda began realizing that this was the catalyst for what would ultimately become his charity single, "Almost Like Praying."

"I began thinking, 'That's the lyric,'" Miranda says of the list of all 78 towns in the country. "Almost Like Praying" started off as an a capella demo so Miranada could piece together the names of the towns. "It was the mathematics of making these towns rhyme and crossing them off the list when I found a way to artfully put them in a lyric until I reached all 78," he tells Billboard.

Once all 78 towns were in place, that's when Miranda started asking for favors. He texted Jennifer Lopez, "straight up" tweeted Camila Cabello and emailed rapper PJ Sin Suela. Lopez and Cabello replied immediately with great enthusiasm but Miranda heard nothing from Suela, who was physically in Pueto Rico at the time.

The next step was putting together the schedule. Miranda began the recording process in his home of New York City, planning to take a flight to Los Angeles the next day, followed by another whirlwind trip to Miami, where most of the artists were located. 

While recording in Los Angeles with legendary performer Rita Moreno, Miranda was asked if Gloria Estefan was on the track. Miranda replied that he didn't have her phone number but would love for her to be included. And with that, Moreno called Estefan on the spot, put Miranda on the phone and he booked her for Miami the next day.

During all of this, PJ Sin Suela finally returns Miranda's email explaining that there is no power on the island but he was able to record his verse for the song, though there was another roadblock: He didn't have enough bandwidth to send Miranda the file. But Miranda was undeterred. 

"I realize Gloria Estefan is going to fly to Puerto Rico tomorrow," he says. So Miranda explained the situation to Estefan's assistant: "If a rapper comes up to you with a memory stick, do you think you could grab it and bring it back to the States so we can put it in this song?"

When Miranda landed back in New York the following day, he received an email in his inbox. The email contained a photo of Emilio and Gloria Estefan holding Suela's USB.

"Almost Like Praying" immediately went into the final stages, getting mixed in one day and ultimately wrapped up in just under two weeks from conception to release. The song features 22 Latin artists all "doing everything and anything we can for Puerto Rico."

You can help do your part in Hurricane Maria relief by donating to the Hispanic Federation here.

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