Atlantic Records has announced this week’s release of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Almost Like Praying” (Feat. Marc Anthony, Ruben Blades, Camila Cabello, Pedro Capo, Dessa, Gloria Estefan, Fat Joe, Luis Fonsi, Juan Luis Guerra, Alex Lacamoire, John Leguizamo, Jennifer Lopez, Rita Moreno, Ednita Nazario, Joell Ortiz, Anthony Ramos, Gina Rodriguez, Gilberto Santa Rosa, PJ Sin Suela, Tommy Torres, and Ana Villafañe).” The all-star single will be available at all digital music retailers and streaming services beginning today, Oct. 6. Download/stream “Almost Like Praying:” Atlantic.lnk.to/AlmostLikePraying.
With music and lyrics by the Pulitzer Prize, Tony, GRAMMY, Emmy Award-winning creator of HAMILTON Lin-Manuel Miranda, and produced by Jeffrey “Trooko” Penalva, “Almost Like Praying” was written and recorded last weekend at studios in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Miranda traveled to each location to work closely with the contributing performers. Penned by Miranda only last week, the original song borrows its title and instantly indelible hook from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s classic, “Maria,” from the original Broadway musical, West Side Story.
The lyrics are a rhyming arrangement of all 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico….78 hometowns, 78 communities, 78 sets of individuals who together make up the Puerto Rican culture. As well as why it was important for Lin-Manuel to sample “Maria” from West Side Story (arguably the most famous musical about Puerto Ricans): to reclaim the name of the hurricane which just destroyed everything they know and love on their island. The resulting track reflects the soul of the island: multilayered, teeming with life, all while backed by a dancehall beat…a place where there is always music playing.
“Almost Like Praying” will be accompanied by a companion visual, featuring imagery from Puerto Rico alongside exclusive footage from Miranda’s travels and unprecedented recording sessions. The video premiered earlier today and will stream via the official Atlantic Records YouTube channel. Watch the “Almost Like Praying” companion video here: Atlanti.Cr/AlmostLikePrayingVideo
As Lin-Manuel was waiting for news of his family’s safety following Hurricane Maria -- it took about 48 hours to get word that they survived the storm -- he set about to help in the best way he knows - to write a song the proceeds of which would benefit Puerto Rico. Lin-Manuel is the exclusive writer of the song and his first call was to legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim to ask for permission to use the lyric, “almost like praying,” from the classic song, “Maria” from West Side Story.
“I was acutely aware that the name Maria, which is the name of my favorite song from West Side Story would forever have a destructive connotation as a result of this natural disaster, so my mind began flipping lyrics from “Maria” to figure out how we could flip this tragedy into something positive, which is why I reached out to Stephen Sondheim for his permission to use it.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda
Next, he called Latin artists from across the islands to support and enlisted the help of his dad, Luis Miranda, to coordinate with Atlantic Records. Atlantic agreed to produce the record pro-bono and all the artists donated their time and voices to record the following weekend. Luis and Lin-Manuel criss crossed the country over 72 hours to record Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Luis Fonsi, Gina Rodriguez, and so many more of the artists. Puerto Rican artist PJ Sin Suela recorded from Puerto Rico in one of the few places that had electricity and, because he didn't have enough signal to transfer the MP3 via internet, drove to a plane to hand off his flash drive to Gloria and Emilio Estefan, who have been flying to and from Puerto Rico as part of a relief effort. From there, Atlantic producer Riggs Morales’ team (executive producer of The Hamilton Mixtape) expedited the mixing and mastering of the song in 48 hours.
In an unprecedented demonstration of collaboration and commitment, the entire sale price of $1.29 will benefit The Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Disaster Relief Fund to help meet hurricane-related needs and recovery in Puerto Rico. For more information or to make a donation, please visit hispanicfederation.org/unidos.
In addition, “Almost Like Praying” will be featured in a major television event benefitting hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico, set to air commercial-free this Saturday, October 7th in select markets across America including New York City and Orlando, FL (check local listings) on Telemundo. The television special will see appearances from all of the participating artists appearing on “Almost Like Praying,” as well as an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the single’s swift creation.