An old saying urges people to stay united – united we stand, divided we fall. They say no man is an island so, as much as people try to be self-sufficient, we all need each other. In times of calamity, we have seen people putting aside their differences to work together towards a common goal.
Musicians know the plights in the world and their creative juices flow, leading them to pen beautiful songs calling for people to unite. Below are songs about unity that artists from different countries have graced us with over the years.
20. Join Together by Steve Allen
This masterpiece’s tune was completed in about thirty minutes when Allen got his hands on a piano. Allen said he had already predetermined the song, so all he needed was a tune. He recorded it in 1973 and entered it in a contest seeking a promotional song for the Commonwealth games. The constant airplay in the months leading up to the games led to it becoming a hit. It was chosen as the theme song for the Commonwealth games. When they opened, Allen and a choir sang it in front of a crowd of 35,000.
The lyrics in this song promote unity, talking about how leaders spread propaganda that makes citizens fear each other. The group says that they do not care about the color of one’s face or background because what matters is that we are living on one planet. We must learn to live peacefully as one race because we are all connected, and the only language we should be speaking is that of unity.
18. United We Stand by Brotherhood of Man
Tony Hiller, the founding member of the British quartet Brotherhood of Man wrote this song with the help of his friend, Johnny Goodison. What started as a love song ended up being used as a presidential campaign rally call in the US after the song’s release in 1969. Hiller had written the song at a time when the Vietnam war was happening, and people were championing gay and civil rights. Therefore, the words in the song stood as a powerful message urging people to unite and have each other’s backs.
17. Harvest For The World by The Isley Brothers
Ernie Isley had bought a new acoustic guitar, so as he strummed it in the basement, the song’s opening lyrics came naturally to him. When the brother heard it, they agreed it would be a great record as they wanted to release a song about socio-political issues. Since the Vietnam war had just ended, it became a tribute to the fallen soldiers. However, they still wanted to instill hope, letting people know that if they came together then there was a world of so many possibilities awaiting them.
16. Together We Stand by Richie Spice
Spice’s song was chosen as the Coronavirus pandemic theme song for a telethon to raise money to support Jamaica’s awareness of the virus. The lyrics emphasize unity and even quotes the bible. In the song, he calls for people to unite because together, they can accomplish a lot.
Marley had a vision of promoting pan-Africanism and social justice worldwide. In this song, he says that Africa should unite, wondering how good it would be to see the unification of all Africans because it is for their benefit. It is therefore no wonder that Stephen Black directed a film in Marley’s honor; it was released during the late reggae artist’s 60th birthday.
During the celebration of the birthday, over 300,000 people attended among whom were 40 African youth delegates. They participated in a symposium discussing how to improve the continent socially, politically, and economically.
The band members of Judas Priest co-wrote this song at a time when they felt the UK government was not caring much about its citizens. So, through the lyrics, they urge the public to stand up and fight for their rights. Rob Halford added that it was also a message to heavy metal lovers around the world to also fight for their place in the music industry. Halford said the punk movement was being ignored. So, the song served as a wake-up call to metalheads that if they did not unite, their genre would never be appreciated.
13. Get Together by The Youngbloods
The song calls for people to treat each as brothers and sisters, and to learn how to co-exist. It says that only you have the key that can either unlock fear or love and it is up to you to choose which one to set free. The Youngbloods did not write this song; it is a composition by Chester Williams who after serving in the Air Force thought about making a career as a folksinger. Originally it was titled “Let’s Get Together.”
12. All For One by The Stone Roses
After 21 years of keeping their fans waiting for a new release, The Stone Roses finally decided it was time to record a single “All For One.” It was released in 2016 and received a fairly positive reception. The song talks about harmony. The band says they long to see people join hands because together they can build a strong wall. Unfortunately, the group broke up again, and one of the members confirmed there was no hope for another resurrection.
11. Imagine by John Lennon
This song was heavily inspired by Yoko Ono who used the word “Imagine” on most of her conceptual artworks in the 1960s. Her husband, the late Lennon, bought a piano for Ono’s birthday and this is the first song he wrote on it in early 1971. Lennon had been reading a book given to him by Dick Gregory that talked about a world without religion; just people living together in peace. Although it has mixed reviews, it still was a hit when it was released spending four weeks at No. 1 in January 1981.
10. Together As One by Lucky Dube
After experiencing apartheid in South Africa, it makes sense for one of their artists to compose a song showing concern for racial discrimination. Dube sang against the hatred wondering why people have to be segregated based on skin color. He says whether European, Rastafarian, Japanese, or Indian, they all need to come together as one because fighting for years on end is not the solution.
9. Different Colors by Lucky Dube
Dube drew inspiration for his music career from other reggae artists like Jimmy Cliff whose songs always carried a socio-political important message. Therefore, in this song, he says that all people are created in the image of God, regardless of their skin color. He adds that nowhere in the Bible does it say God’s color is black or white so there is no need for politicians to racially discriminate against people. So, we might be of different colors but we are still one people.
8. Almost Like Praying by Lin-Manuel Miranda
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico and Miranda penned the song a day after the disaster. Since the hurricane was named Maria, the songwriter sought inspiration from “Maria,” a song from his favorite Broadway musical “West Side Story.” He wanted to flip the negative effects of Hurricane Maria into something positive.
As people tweeted wondering if their relatives across the Puerto Rican towns were safe, Miranda wanted to work all 78 towns into the song. The song brings together an all-Latina star cast to record it as they make the message clear, that they are still of Puerto Rico ancestry and will remain united regardless of where they live currently.
7. We Are The World by USA for Africa
After famine hit Africa, musicians in the USA came together to raise money for Ethiopia where at least one million people had died from starvation. Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson penned the lyrics, though other creatives came in to help. Richie’s manager at the time, Ken Kragen was in charge of ensuring they knew which artists would be available to perform, who would sing each part, and where each would stand.
They scheduled the recording during the night when the American Music Awards would be hosted since many renowned musicians would be in Los Angeles. In the end, a masterpiece was created urging people to unite and help alleviate the famine problem in Africa.
6. One Vision by Queen
The lyrics of this song were inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech “I Have A Dream.” John Deacon clarified that although it is credited as a Queen composition, Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor and Brian May collaborated in the songwriting process.
So like Michael Jackson and Lucky Dube whose lyrics are inspired by a need to fight against racial discrimination, “One Vision” also talks about there being no black or white. It promotes one flesh, one bone, one soul, one race, and one true religion.
5. One Love by Bob Marley
Marley was inspired by Lennon’s “Imagine” to write a song calling for peace. Therefore, he rewrote “All In One” and incorporated “People Get Ready.” The song came in handy at a time when Jamaica headed to the polls in December 1976 and there was a division among supporters of different political parties. Marley’s children did another version of this song to support UNICEF’s cause for helping kids affected by COVID-19 worldwide.
4. Black or White by Michael Jackson
When Jackson underwent plastic surgery, the public wondered how a man singing that it does not matter whether you are black or white had changed from being black to being white in appearance. After trying so hard to hide it from the public, he finally decided to have plastic surgery. He said he was proud to be black and would not spend his life being judged by the color of his skin. Therefore, in this song, he is fighting against racial discrimination thereby urging people to see each other as one race, the human race.
3. We Are The World 25 for Haiti by Artists for Haiti
When the original “We Are The World” was released, some of the artists like Justin Bieber in this remake were not even born. Still, the powerful message of the song brings together artists, young and old, for another noble cause – a charity for Haiti after the country experienced an earthquake.
The recording of this version happened in the same studio as the original song. Of course, no one could replace Michael Jackson’s chorus part so he still is in this version and Lil Wayne felt he did not deliver his line as Bob Dylan did in the original version. The song says we all need somebody we can lean on and we are united by love.
2. Where’s The Love by The Black Eyed Peas
The 9/11 attacks prompted the Black Eyed Peas to pen this song which was updated during the 15th anniversary of the attacks. The terror attacks in Syria, Iraq, and Europe also sparked the group to redo the song as people kept urging them to remind people about the love we all need despite our differences. In the song, the band members say that discrimination generates hate yet we need love instead of racial discrimination.
1. We Are One by Pitbull Featuring Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte
This World Cup theme song goes hand in hand with the event’s theme that calls for unity, perseverance, and strength. Pitbull had a track and asked Jennifer Lopez to listen, telling her that if she liked it, they would perform the song together. The Cuban rapper had not planned on it being the official World Cup song but still, it was picked perhaps because the lyrics can speak to soccer fans. It talks about how the love of soccer brings people around the world together.
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