Latin stars team up for Puerto Rico
“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda released a new original song Friday to raise money for Puerto Rican hurricane relief and he’s enlisted some of the biggest Latin stars in music to help.
“Almost Like Praying” features Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Camila Cabello, Gloria Estefan, Fat Joe, Luis Fonsi, John Leguizamo and Rita Moreno, among many others. All proceeds from the download and stream go to The Hispanic Federation’s disaster relief fund .
“I was like every Puerto Rican with ties to the island, with family on the island. We all had a terrible few days of silence. For some, those days were weeks,” Miranda told The Associated Press. “For me, that helplessness turned into, ‘OK, well what can I write that will help? Can I write a tune that we can monetize?”’
Miranda said he made an a cappella demo in a bathroom in Austria – where he was on vacation – and sent it to Atlantic Records, enlisting help. The subsequent recording process took a breath-taking 72 hours and took him to studios in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami to link up with the music stars. “Everyone said yes and then it became the logistics of getting everyone recorded,” he said.
The song borrows from “Maria,” the classic song from “West Side Story” and Miranda said the song popped into his head after the hurricane by the same name devastated Puerto Rico on Sept. 20.
The song’s lyrics list all of the 78 towns of Puerto Rico. Miranda said he didn’t want inland and mountainous communities to be ignored as bigger cities get power and food.
“This song is designed so that those towns never feel forgotten again,” he said. “I cannot wait for Puerto Ricans to hear Luis Fonsi sing the name of their town or J.Lo to sing the name of their town.”
One verse turned out to be exceedingly hard to get. Miranda reached out to the rapper PJ Sin Suela but never heard back. Sin Suela finally answered on Saturday, saying he was on the island and had just gotten power. He recorded a verse at a studio in San Juan but couldn’t get enough bandwidth to email it to Miranda.
Estefan, who was flying to Puerto Rico the next day on a relief mission, volunteered to pick it up. On Monday night, while Miranda was working on the song in Miami, Estefan sent him a photo of her holding a memory stick – containing the missing verse.