WATCH: Lionel Richie, ‘American Idol’ revive ‘We Are the World’

Thirty-five years after Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson combined to write the charity anthem “We Are the World,” Richie presented an updated version Sunday night with the help of “American Idol” contestants past and present.

The new single closed out the Season 18 finale of “Idol” on an inspirational note as the nation — and the world — continues to struggle with hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The update, albeit with a lot less star power,  includes appearances by “Idol” judges Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan, along with members of this season’s Top 11 contestants — Francisco Martin, Grace Leer, Arthur Gunn, Dillon James, Jonny West, Jovin Webb, Julia Gargano, Just Sam, Louis Knight, Makayla Phillips and Sophia James. (Martin and Leer are Bay Area natives).

Also featured are many familiar voices and faces from past “Idol” seasons, including Alejandro Aranda (Season 17 runner-up), Fantasia Barrino (Season 3 winner), Gabby Barrett (third place Season 16), Jordin Sparks (Season 6 winner), Katharine McPhee (Season 5 runner-up), Kellie Pickler (sixth place Season 5), Laine Hardy (Season 17 winner), Lauren Alaina (Season 10 runner-up), Phillip Phillips (Season 11 winner), Ruben Studdard (Season 2 winner) and Scotty McCreery (Season 10 winner).

The original “We Are the World” was recorded in 1985 and raised funds for African famine relief. Featuring a star-studded lineup that included Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson and many more, it sold more than 20 million copies.

Here you go. Memories …

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Author: Chuck Barney