When Sheila E. joined forces with songwriters Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie along with producers Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian in 1985 to sing on the charity record ‘We Are the World’ in 1985, those behind the scenes knew she was close with late Prince and tried to use her to get him involved as well.
Speaking to Rolling Stone Music Now, the musician (born Sheila Escovedo) said “Lionel and Quincy kept saying, ‘Why don’t you call Prince’? Everyone took turns trying to get me to call him back and have him come down…. I just thought, wow, they were all my friends. That’s cold-blooded.”
The daughter of legendary percussionist Pete Escovedo was part of the USA For Africa supergroup that included such superstars as Bruce Springsteen, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, the Jackson 5, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. In the forthcoming documentary ‘The Greatest Night in Pop’ the session’s vocal arranger Tom Bahler recalled ‘Hello’ hitmaker Lionel Richie making two specific requests ahead of the recording:
“[He told me] he had two requests. One is, Lionel was the first one to write this, to begin it, so he should be the first voice we hear. Then, because Michael came in and they finished it together, Michael should sing the first chorus.’ And then, this is his humor, he said, ‘And I think you should bring Diana in for the second half of the first chorus, because some people think they’re the same person.”
The song went on to sell 20 million copies worldwide and ‘The Greatest Night in Pop’ – which features new interviews with the musicians behind it – is now streaming on Netflix.