By Robyn Collins
In addition to working with Lin-Manuel Miranda on a song to benefit those impacted by the recent massacre at Orlando nightclub Pulse, Jennifer Lopez has joined forces with over a dozen other artists to record an all-star benefit song called “Hands.” Listen below.
Other artists involved in the project include Gwen Stefani, Jason Derulo, Meghan Trainor, Juanes, Pink, Mary J. Blige, Selena Gomez and Britney Spears. The recording, which will raise money for victims of the Orlando shooting, was “conceived by hit songwriter Justin Tranter.
Before the shooting, Tranter and songwriting partner Julia Michaels were on tour with Selena Gomez writing songs. Then, news of the bloodshed broke and Tranter to changed course. That afternoon he signed on as a volunteer at The Center Orlando, the region’s chief LGBT community center.
“I called them and said, ‘If I fly up is there something for me to help with?'” Tranter told Billboard. “They say, ‘We need as many hands as we can possibly get.'”
“Hands” took hold the next day when Tranter met GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis who had arrived at the center from New York. Working with Interscope for the release, Tranter, GLAAD and Interscope president of A&R Aaron Bay-Schuck put the word out. Within days, artists from various genres pledged their support, including Halsey, Ty Herndon, Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, Adam Lambert, The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, MNEK, Alex Newell, Mary Lambert, Prince Royce, Jussie Smollett, Nate Ruess and RuPaul.
Artists recorded tracks from their homes, local studios, or various locations on tour. “Interscope let us use their studio [in Los Angeles],” Tranter said. “Mary J. Blige recorded in New Orleans. Britney Spears in Thousand Oaks, I think. Pink in Santa Barbara. MNEK recorded at home in London. Selena recorded in her studio bus. Dan Reynolds recorded in his home. Adam Lambert was in Luxembourg. Ty Herndon the country star was in Spain. Kacey Musgraves, Nashville. Everyone just got it done.”
“Hands” grew out of an unfinished piece that Tranter, Michaels and co-writer and producer BloodPop (formerly known as Blood Diamonds) had started working on but never finished. “The song didn’t ever finish itself and it didn’t ever feel right,” Tranter said, “Now we know why.”
Mark Ronson co-produced, and vocal engineer Benjamin Rice worked out the tracks. According to Tranter, “He helped us find the structure and make sense of it all.”
Proceeds from “Hands” will be distributed by Equality Florida Pulse Victims Fund, the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida and GLAAD.