In honor of the 2017 American Music Awards, Billboard is counting down the best performances from the awards show’s history. Here’s number 14.
In 1985, Harry Belafonte succeeded in doing what he’d been trying to do for years: record a charity song with a supergroup of the most successful artists in the music industry. “We Are the World,” written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, was this unifying anthem of love and aid for our fellow man. Proceeds of the song’s sales — which exceeded 20 million copies — went towards the eradication of hunger in Africa, specifically Ethiopia, where over 1 million people had died from a recent two-year famine. The 1986 AMAs dedicated a segment to highlighting the making of the song, and to honor Belafonte, Jackson, Richie, and all the artists behind the song and movement it entailed.
After Belafonte received a special appreciation award for his work in organizing the effort, presenter Diana Ross invited Jackson and Richie onstage, before finally extending the invitation to all the artists in attendance who were a part of the song. Jackson’s sister La Toya joined him on stage, as well as some who weren’t a part of the song’s recording but were welcomed on stage — including Jackson’s other sister Janet, actress Elizabeth Taylor, and a budding young artist by the name of Whitney Houston.
Watch the uplifting singalong below.
You can vote for the AMAs on Billboard.com.
The 2017 American Music Awards will broadcast live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.