On Wednesday night, July 27, at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Convention Hall in Philadelphia, a cavalcade of Broadway stars performed the charity single “What the World Needs Now is Love,” a song that has been recorded and repurposed by more than 100 artists since it was written and composed by Hal David and Burt Bacharach in 1965. Among those included were six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald, Tony-winning actors Brian Stokes Mitchell and Ben Vereen, Tony nominees Montego Glover and Adrienne Warren, as well as Darius de Haas and Roz Ryan.
After a poignant presentation from various victims of gun violence that included former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Glover and Warren were among the singers taking on the majority of vocals, bringing the audience to their feet with their soulful vocal runs. McDonald received the biggest applause, even bigger than the “Cagney & Lacey” micro-reunion between the show’s former headliners, Tyne Daly, Sharon Gless. Also singing various lyrics were Wilson Cruz, Olga Merediz, Jon Viktor Corpuz, Mary Ann Hu, Michael Longoria, B.D. Wong, Idina Menzel, Debra Messing, Darren Criss, Kristen Bell, Stephanie J. Block, Len Cariou, Michael Urie, Richard Kind, Tom Wopat, Ann Hampton Callaway, Liz Callaway, Nicholas Callaway Foster, Michelle Collins, Anika Larsen, Margaret Stallings, Eve Plumb, Michael Urie, Carmen Cusak, Melissa Errico, Janet Metz, as well as musical arranger Seth Rudetsky, his partner James Wesley, and their daughter, Juli Wesley.
With the DNC appearance, this includes yet another high-profile live performance of the charity single that was first recorded in response to the shooting massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando that occurred on June 12, which resulted in the deaths of 49 people and became the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history.
Originally recorded by rock ‘n roll singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon, the latest cover and charity single rose to the #1 slot on the iTunes chart, surpassed the Justin Timberlake disco-pop number, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” The single also landed on the Billboard Hot 100. Since premiering on June 19, the promotional music video has drawn over 1 million views. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the song’s sales went to the LGBT Center of Central Florida.
The performance comes one day after Tony winner Billy Porter, funny lady Aisha Tyler and songwriter Esther Dean were featured in the star-studded all-vocals music video rendition of Rachel Platten’s of “Fight Song.” Produced by Elizabeth Banks, the single also featured Alan Cumming, America Ferrera, Ben Platt, Chrissie Fit, Connie Britton, Ellen Greene, Eva Longoria, Garrett Clayton, Hana Mae Lee, Ian Somerholder, Idina Menzel, Jaime King, Jane Fonda, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, John Michael Higgens, Josh Lucas, Julie Bowen, Kathy Najimy, Kelly Jackle, Kristin Chenoweth, Mandy Moore, Mary McCormack, Mary-Louise Parker, Mike Thompkins, Nikki Read, Renee Fleming, Rob Reiner, Shelley Regner, TR Knight and Sia.
After the song, the crowd chanted “Love Trumps Hate.”