It’s been almost a decade since the September 11 terrorist attack on New York City’s World Trade Center. Over the last few years, celebrities have banded together to sing songs, both uplifting and straightforward, that pay tribute to the victims and families of the tragedy. Here, we picked our top 5 musical tributes to 9/11.
“What More Can I Give?” – Michael Jackson, Mya, Mariah Carey, Usher, Brian McKnight, Ziggy Marley, Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men, Beyonce, and Luther Vandross
Recorded as a charity single by Michael Jackson and more than 35 other artists, the goal was to raise $50 million for numerous charities in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The single was never released due to a conflict between Jackson and Sony Music. However, on October 21, 2001, the song was performed at another 9/11 benefit concert called United We Stand: What More Can I Give?.
“How many times can we turn our heads / And pretend we cannot see / Healing the wounds of our broken earth / We are one global family / Just sending your prayers / Is something you feel / Helping one heal / What have I got that I can give”
The “9/11 Freestyle” – Jay-Z
This freestyle was said to have debuted at the Blueprint Live Tour and on DJ Clue’s Stadium Series Part 3 mixtape. Jay-Z’s sixth studio album “The Blueprint” was released on the day of the terrorist attack, a week earlier than planned, to combat bootlegging. Despite being overshadowed by the 9/11 tragedy, the album sold over 426,000 copies in its opening week, and was certified two times platinum.
“Bootleggers, bombers, Bin Laden / I’m still crackin’ / I will not lose / I simply refuse / I dropped the same day as the twin towers / I show power / Still, I show compassion for others / Send money and flowers / Devote hours”
“Never Too Far / Hero” Medley – Mariah Carey
Mariah sang this at America: A Tribute to Heroes, a benefit concert broadcast by the four major United States television networks in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Done in the style of a telethon, it aired September 21, 2001, uninterrupted and commercial-free, and featured a number of national and international entertainers performing to raise money for the victims and their families.
“Never too far away / I won’t let time erase / One bit of yesterday / Cause I have learned that / Nobody can take your place / Though we can never be / I’ll keep you close to me / When I remember”
“And then a hero comes along / With the strength to carry on / And you cast your fears aside / And you know you can survive / So when you feel like hope is gone / Look inside you and be strong / And you’ll finally see the truth / That a hero lies in you”
“Someday We’ll All Be Free” – Alicia Keys
Also sang at the America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit concert and telethon. The song was originally recorded by Donny Hathaway in 1973.
“Get yourself in gear / Keep your stride / Never mind your fears / Brighter days will soon be here / Take it from me / Someday we’ll all be free”
“What’s Going On?” – Diddy, Gwen Stefani, Nona Gaye, Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Destiny’s Child, Ja Rule, Nelly Furtado, Alicia Keys, N*Sync, Mary J. Blige, Nelly, Nas, and Eve
In October 2001, an album was released by a group of popular recording artists under the name “Artists Against AIDS Worldwide.” On it were multiple versions of Marvin Gaye’s 1971 hit “What’s Going On” intended to benefit AIDS programs in Africa. However, the song was recorded shortly before the September, 11, 2001 attacks, and it was decided that a portion of the song’s proceeds would benefit the American Red Cross’ September 11 fund, as well.
An official music video featuring appearances from ?uestlove, Wyclef, and Lil’ Kim, as well, can be seen here.
“Father, father / We don’t need to escalate / You see, war is not the answer / For only love can conquer hate / You know we’ve got to find a way / To bring some lovin’ here today“