Lionel Richie Joined by American Idol Judges and Alums for Performance of 'We Are the World'

While Just Sam walked away as the winner of American Idol on Sunday, judge Lionel Richie had his own moment in the spotlight to culminate the ABC series' season three finale.

Richie, 70, delivered a pre-taped performance of the charity anthem "We Are the World," which he co-wrote with Michael Jackson. It marked the first time the hit tune was performed on television since 1985, the same year the song came out.

And Richie was not alone for the show-stopping performance.

His fellow judges, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan, also lent their vocals remotely for the beautiful rendition, as did the entire Top 11 from season 18 and numerous Idol alumni, including Fantasia, Gabby Barrett, Jordin Sparks, Katharine McPhee, Kellie Pickler, Laine Hardy, Lauren Alaina, Phillip Phillips, Ruben Studdard and Scotty McCreery.

The tune served as a message of unity amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which caused the longtime singing competition series to be broadcasted remotely for the first time ever.


Richie and Jackson wrote “We Are the World” in 1985, and the charity single was performed by the musical supergroup USA for Africa, where sales went towards famine relief efforts in Africa.

Ten years ago, a version of “We Are the World” was released to assist earthquake victims in Haiti.

Thirty-five years since the anthem was first released, Richie told PEOPLE in March that he believes the song could bring much-needed unity and charity funds to those in need amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Two weeks ago, we said we didn’t want to do too much [about the song] because this is not the time to sell an anniversary. But the message is so clear,” he said.

Richie said he initially tried to write a different song early on in the outbreak. "But every time I try and write another message, I write those same words,” he said.

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