.

Preview the New "We Are the World," Plus Meet Nine-Year-Old Singer Ethan Bortnick

February 12, 2010 12:00 AM ET

The 25th anniversary remake of "We Are the World," which debuts tonight during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, features more than 70 performers including Kanye West, Brian Wilson, Pink and Celine Dion (the video is now available on the song's official YouTube channel and on iTunes). But only one member of the choir overslept for his third-grade exam this week. Nine-year-old Ethan Bortnick, a singer and pianist from Florida and Tonight Show vet — he has credits at major philanthropic events and is about to film a PBS special concert — tells Rolling Stone's Austin Scaggs he rehearsed for his big moment by listening to the original tune. He even got a little networking in at the recording session. "Will.i.am called me a few days ago, because you know the Black Eyed Peas are touring, and he said, 'So dude, are you coming?' So we went to his concert, and it was amazing."

Check out photos from the "We Are the World" studio.

Bortnick says he was "excited to meet Barbra Streisand, the Jonas Brothers, and a lot of other cool people" and reports that Kanye West behaved himself. "Yeah, that guy was really nice. Very," he tells RS. He deems the revamped rendition of the song "cooler" than the iconic original (which was recorded 16 years before his birth), and adds that "Quincy [Jones] also was awesome, he treated me like his little grandson." Jones and Co. even reserved a prime spot for Bortnick "since I was really short, they had to put me in the front so I don't get lost anywhere."

Pink, Mary J. Blige and Maroon 5's Adam Levine also took part in the "World" recording session, which went down the day after the Grammy Awards, and early footage of their turns at the mike have hit the Web (watch a montage above). Producer RedOne, who worked on the record, told RS, "I know that Lionel Richie has been asked like 150-something times to redo 'We Are the World' and he said no to everything until this Haiti thing happened. The moment he saw that it happened he was like, OK, 'We Are the World.' "

Compare the new "World" to the original:

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com