Lin-Manuel Miranda released ‘Almost Like Praying,’ a new benefit single to support Puerto Rican hurricane relief, on Friday. The ‘Hamilton’ creator gathered the biggest Latin stars in music to help.
A love song to Puerto Rico
All proceeds from the download and stream go to The Hispanic Federation’s disaster relief fund.
“I, like pretty much anyone with family on the island, I shared with every Puerto Rican those terrible days of silence after the storm hit when there was just no communication from the island,” he said.
“I heard from my family four days after, five days after. Some people are still waiting.”
The Emmy winner decided to turn that situation around and came up with something to help rebuild the island.
“For me, that helplessness turned into, ‘OK, well what can I write that will help? Can I write a tune that we can monetize?'”
‘Almost Like Praying’ borrows from West Side Story’s classic ‘Maria.’ According to Miranda, the song popped into his head after the hurricane by the same name devastated Puerto Rico on September 20.
“The name ‘Maria’ forever has a negative connotation for this island. It’s the worst storm in 100 years. It’s also the name of my favorite song from West Side Story,” he said.
“I kept thinking about that song, so I took a sample from the song Maria, to flip it. To literally flip the sample the same way we’re trying to flip the natural disaster into something positive.”
The inspiration behind it
Miranda inspired by repeatedly seeing Maria and all the 78 towns that make the island on the news. So, the song enlists all of the 78 towns since Miranda didn’t want any community to be ignored.
“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.”
Also featured on the song are Ruben Blades, Pedro Capo, Dessa, Juan Luis Guerra, Alex Lacamoire, Ednita Nazario, Joell Ortiz, Anthony Ramos, Gina Rodriguez, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Tommy Torres and Ana Villafane.
“Everyone is doing their part. I’ve never seen such mobilization in my life,” Miranda said.
Offering real support
This is not the first time the Emmy, Tony, and Grammy-winning uses his talent as a platform for social causes.
Miranda has previously asked Congress to help dig Puerto Rico out of its debt crisis, performed at a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on Broadway, lobbied to stop gun violence in America.
He also teamed up with Jennifer Lopez on the benefit single ‘Love Make the World.’
While Miranda has been critical of President Donald Trump‘s response to Hurricane Maria, he had nothing but praise for the ordinary Americans who have sent diapers, baby formula, batteries and money and other aid to the island.
Many communities there are still waiting for power and clean water.
“This was an unprecedented disaster and requires an unprecedented federal response. They have not yet gotten an unprecedented federal response,” Miranda said.
“I am longing and waiting and jumping up and down for a federal response to match the response of our people.”
Earlier this week he reflected on his role as artist and how they’re up to use it as a platfrom to create change.
“You know how we always tell artists ‘stay in your lane’ anytime they say something remotely political? I’m trying to use what I do in service of this challenge,” Miranda said to Rolling Stone.
“We’re facing a humanitarian crisis right now. And the response from our federal government is not commensurate with the previous two hurricanes, much less up to the unprecedented danger of this disaster itself.”
Pleading for response
Following hurricane Maria’s devastating pass by the Caribbean, artists and celebrities have joined in the relief efforts.
They have also pleaded the administration for a response. The majority of the 3.5 million American citizens on the island are without clean water, electricity, cell phone service or reliable medical care.
They have also blacklashed President’s Trump response tot he situation.
John Legend took to Twitter who took Trump to task for a bizarre tweet on September 2. The president appeared to be denigrating the island for its “broken infrastructure & massive debt.”
Marc Anthony, who’s from Puerto Rican parents, put it more succinctly, when he told Trump to “shut the fuck up” about the NFL non-troversy and focus on the crisis on the island.
Then Rihanna, who was born in the Caribbean island of Barbados, amped up her criticsm of the president in a tweet.
— Rihanna (@rihanna) September 28, 2017