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HUM 1150 Assessment 4 Creative Process of Creating and Interpreting Cultural Artifacts

The Artifact:

The artifact under examination is the original “We Are The World” charity single. Created in 1985, it was a collaborative effort between two music icons, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, with the musical arrangements expertly crafted by Quincy Jones. 

This significant composition was accompanied by a visually striking music video, stretching over seven minutes and eleven seconds, making it a captivating spectacle. However, the true essence of this artifact lies in the collective efforts of 46 superstar musicians from the American music industry.

HUM 1150 Assessment 4 Creative Process of Creating and Interpreting Cultural Artifacts

The roster of talent was awe-inspiring, including not only Michael Jackson and his siblings but also renowned artists like Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Kenny Rogers, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Al Jarreau, Huey Lewis, Kim Carnes, Cyndi Lauper, Bob Dylan, and Dan Aykroyd, among others. 

It is worth mentioning that this list is only a fraction of the remarkable ensemble. This ambitious project aimed to raise funds for the dire hunger crisis in Africa, and its impact has been nothing short of extraordinary. 

To date, the initiative has generated over $100 million in funds, sold more than 800,000 copies, and received accolades such as a Grammy and Album of the Year (Content Engine LLC, 2021). This artifact is a testament to the notion that people from diverse backgrounds, with distinct styles, talents, races, and heritages, can unite to create a positive and enduring difference. HUM 1150 Assessment 4 Creative Process of Creating and Interpreting Cultural Artifacts

The “We Are The World” project serves as a source of inspiration for future generations, encouraging them to embrace values like love, collaboration, charity, and diversity in their endeavors, fostering a better world for all. 

Reflecting on Collaborative and Individual Efforts:

Chapter 7 of the course material serves as a guide to understanding the dynamics of collaborations, much like the one showcased by the “We Are The World” project. It defines collaboration as a tool employed by groups of individuals to accomplish tasks beyond the capabilities of any individual alone or to achieve goals that would otherwise be unattainable (Capella University, n.d.). 

Within the context of this project, the importance of relationship building emerges as a crucial factor. Manager Ken Krager played a pivotal role, armed with his telephone skills, rapport-building abilities, and only a month’s timeframe before the American Music Awards, to unite this diverse group of artists for a common cause (Edwards, 2020).

HUM 1150 Assessment 4 Creative Process of Creating and Interpreting Cultural Artifacts

Once the artists were brought together under one roof, Krager dedicated the entire night to introducing them to one another, recognizing that many of them had never collaborated before (Edwards, 2020). 

While Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie took the reins of writing the lyrics, it was the collective voices of artists representing various genres that lent the song its true impact. The single seamlessly transcended musical boundaries, racial barriers, and disability discrimination. 

Each vocalist brought their unique style, technique, and vocal timbre to the project, resulting in a harmonious blend that showcased the rich tapestry of soul, R&B, blues, pop rock, country, disco, and other genres. No single genre overshadowed the others, fostering an environment of innovation within the musical structure.

HUM 1150 Assessment 4 Creative Process of Creating and Interpreting Cultural Artifacts

Notably, including artists with visual disabilities, such as Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, was a powerful reminder that challenging circumstances do not define one’s ultimate potential. Such inclusion underscored the project’s commitment to supporting Africa as a whole. 

Every contributing artist was encouraged to interpret the music freely, drawing from their individual musical genres and personal experiences. This artistic freedom, coupled with their unwavering passion for the cause, shaped the final product. Producer Ken Kragen, along with 26 of the participating artists, had the exceptional opportunity to

personally travel to Sudan and deliver the funds raised—an experience that left an indelible mark on their careers (ContentEngine, 2021). While I may not have personally raised such a significant amount of money for a just cause, I can relate to the power of relationship-building and social awareness through my involvement in fundraising for an orphanage in Haiti. 

HUM 1150 Assessment 4 Creative Process of Creating and Interpreting Cultural Artifacts

For five years, from 2012 to 2017, I was a choir member named International Shining Stars Family (ISSF), based in Queens, NY. Our choir’s mission was to spread light and make a positive impact in our local community. 

We organized annual concerts to raise funds for orphanages and elementary schools in Haiti. The strength of our choir lay in its diversity, encompassing individuals from different cultures, and Christian denominations, and with diverse soloist capabilities. 

It was crucial for us to cultivate empathy as we shared musical and fundraising ideas, ensuring that our innovation was not hindered. We composed and performed original songs, and our voices resonated at various events and churches throughout the year. 

Each August, we pooled our resources and led supply and clothing drives to provide essential provisions to the children in Haiti before the start of the new school year. Over the course of five successful years, we managed to raise between $5000 and $10,000 annually for Haitian orphanages. HUM 1150 Assessment 4 Creative Process of Creating and Interpreting Cultural Artifacts

The Conversation:

For the interview, I decided to interview my husband, considering his background in jazz music, as I believed his perspective would offer a unique insight. We began by individually listening to the song and then engaged in a detailed discussion about our thoughts and impressions. 

I provided my husband with the historical background of the artifact, and his facial expressions revealed a deep sense of awe regarding the song’s impact. While I found immense appreciation in the diversity of races and vocal techniques displayed in the performance, my husband enjoyed the profound impact of the song’s lyrics and the simplicity of its melody and harmonies. 

Through our conversation, we realized that our viewpoints shed light on the different lenses through which we perceive the world. I tend to seek depth and embrace diversity, always delving beyond the surface, whereas my husband’s perspective often leans towards simplicity, finding contentment in life’s simpler aspects. 

HUM 1150 Assessment 4 Creative Process of Creating and Interpreting Cultural Artifacts

Furthermore, I discovered that my husband held a tremendous amount of respect not only for Michael Jackson but also for Quincy Jones, who had served as a mentor to many influential figures in the music industry. 

He was genuinely astonished to learn that Lionel Richie had contributed to the songwriting process as well. Throughout our conversation, we both expressed our shared belief that collaborations of such magnitude are rare in our time, and we expressed our hope for future initiatives involving the musical greats of our generation. 

We both firmly believe that the greater the diversity within an initiative, the stronger its impact and the more enduring its presence in history. Moreover, we both expressed our aspirations to be part of multicultural, multilingual, and multiracial projects that can touch the lives of millions worldwide, leveraging the transformative power of music. 

To achieve such aspirations, we acknowledged the importance of self-awareness, social awareness, and empathy—traits exemplified by creating the groundbreaking project “We Are The World.” We recognized the need to foster an environment where innovation can thrive and be fueled by empathy, ultimately producing something groundbreaking and impactful. HUM 1150 Assessment 4 Creative Process of Creating and Interpreting Cultural Artifacts


Capella University. (n.d). Exploring Cultures. Capella University Library.

Edwards, G. (2020, March 6). ‘We Are the World’: A Minute-by-Minute Breakdown. Rolling Stone. Retrieved from


ContentEngine, L.L.C. (2021, January 29). Producer of “We Are the World”: “Michael Jackson was in the bathroom huddled in a corner. He was very intimidated”. CE Noticias Financieras. Retrieved from


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