The atmosphere at Miami’s Bongo’s restaurant, perched on top of the American Airlines Arena, was almost festive as an endless stream of Latin acts began to file inside. They were there to record ‘Somos el mundo’, the Spanish-language version of ‘We are the world’ and, heeding the spirit of the cause and the directions on the tip-sheet, there was little fanfare surrounding their arrival.
Artists had been instructed to be accompanied by no more than two people, and they paid heed to the instructions, arriving to the parking lot below, many parking their own cars, then waiting patiently in line to take the elevator upstairs. There, they mingled in a small waiting room as they signed posters and two guitars donated by Gibson, which would all be auctioned off a later date.
The only camera in the room for the session in the early evening of Feb. 19 was from the ‘Cristina Show’, slated to premiere the video of the song in early March. Artists were then taken to a small red carpet that led to the basketball court where the Miami Heat trains, and which the arena provided for the shoot. There, against the simple backdrop of several gigantic posters with the ‘Somos el mundo’ emblem, some 50 artists stood in a semi-circle, lyrics in hand, and in less than two hours, with renditions getting increasingly more enthusiastic, the song and video were a wrap.
Producer Emilio Estefan and his wife Gloria Estefan came up with the idea of translating the song and releasing a version for the Spanish language market, with all proceeds also slated to go to the We Are the World Foundation benefiting Haiti.
‘Somos el mundo’ was produced by Emilio Estefan and Quincy Jones together with Univision Communications who funded the production (and provided the production team and cameras) and will premiere the video, together with a one-hour special, probably by next week.
Development of the track and the logistics of the production were done at speed, with Estefan personally contacting artists in the past couple of weeks. The general recording date, Feb. 19, was chosen to coincide with the Premio Lo Nuestro awards show, which took place the evening before.
Although the artists who had solo lines – among them Gloria Estefan, José Feliciano, Chayanne, Thalía and Fonsi, pre-recorded their parts earlier during the week inside the recording studio, most (for a total of more than 50) nevertheless showed up for the taping of the video. Among those absent was Pitbull, who had a prior engagement but who recorded his a rap lines prior.
Artists, all dressed casually (black and gray pants or jeans and light tops seemed to predominate for men and women), got into their places with no fuss, veteran acts (including venerable bandleader Johnny Pacheco, dapper in a suit) next to young ones, regional Mexican bands next to rockers. They balanced headsets and hand clapping, initially a bit formally. By the third take, the group was in full relaxation mode, and shortly before 9 pm, the deadline set by the venue, the last take ended in a champagne toast.