What More Can I Give: Wikis


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"What More Can I Give"
Amid different colored hearts and against a yellow background, an awareness ribbon with the colors of the United States flag is centered
Single by Michael Jackson and various artists
Released October 27, 2003
Format Digital download
Recorded September 2001
Genre Pop
Length 3:36 (2003 edit, English)
5:03 (2001 version, English)
4:39 (Spanish)
Label Epic
Writer(s) Michael Jackson
Rubén Blades (Spanish lyrics)

"What More Can I Give" (also "Todo Para Ti" in Spanish) is a song written by American musician Michael Jackson and recorded by a supergroup of singers following the September 11 attacks in 2001. The inspiration for the song had initially come to Jackson after a meeting with the President of South Africa Nelson Mandela in the late 1990s. The song was to be premiered at a Jackson concert, but the singer failed to perform it. The song also failed to gain an official release, despite the pop singer having stated that it would be issued as a charity single for the refugees of the Kosovo War, which ended in 1999.

Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Jackson rewrote "What More Can I Give". Jackson and other artists recorded the new version of the song shortly afterward; the other artists included Beyoncé Knowles, Celine Dion, Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey and Usher. In addition, a Spanish language version of the song was recorded. Entitled "Todo Para Ti", its lyrics were written by musician Rubén Blades.

"What More Can I Give" was scheduled for release as a charity single, in the hope that $50 million would be raised to aid the survivors and the families of victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The plan, however, never came to fruition and the reasons why have varied between sources and the individuals involved. One newspaper stated that the release of the song was abandoned after it emerged that the executive producer had directed pornographic movies. The producer, Marc Schaffel, denied that he was to blame, and offered the opinion that the song was not released as part of a marketing ploy by Sony Music.

"What More Can I Give" was played on the radio for the first time in late 2002. The debut airing was made without permission by radio station WKTU-FM in New York. The following year, on October 27, 2003, "What More Can I Give" was made available to the public by way of digital download. Proceeds from the sale of the song went to childrens' charities.


Background and writing

A headshot of a man wearing a red baseball cap and shirt. He has long black hair and is smiling towards the camera.
Michael Jackson wrote "What More Can I Give".

Michael Jackson was originally inspired to write "What More Can I Give" after a meeting with anti-apartheid activist and President of South Africa Nelson Mandela in 1999.[1][2] The songwriter stated that during a conversation with the then-President, the concept of giving was discussed by the pair. The singer revealed that it was during this interaction that the words "what more can I give" came into his mind and he began writing. With the first version of the song completed, Jackson intended to premiere it at his Michael and Friends – What More Can I Give concerts, staged in Munich, Germany and the South Korean capital Seoul in June 1999. Ultimately, Jackson did not perform the song at the concerts and it remained unreleased.[3]

"What More Can I Give" was also intended to be released as a charity single to aid the Kosavor refugees who had been forced out of their home during the Kosovo War (1998–1999). Jackson revealed his intentions for the release in an interview with the British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mirror. The pop singer stated that television footage of the war upset him and that he wanted to go to Yugoslavia to hug every one of the suffering children.[4][5] Like before, however, the song failed to gain a release as a single and was not considered good enough for inclusion on Jackson's 2001 Invincible album.[6][7]

In 2001, two separate concerts were held on September 7 and September 10 in celebration of Michael Jackson's thirtieth year as a solo entertainer (his first solo single, "Got to Be There", was released in 1971). Held in New York City, the shows sold out within five hours of going on sale. The concerts featured performances by artists such as Usher, Whitney Houston, Mýa, Liza Minnelli, James Ingram, Gloria Estefan and Marc Anthony. They also contained solo performances by Jackson himself, and marked the onstage reunion of the pop singer and his brothers (The Jacksons).[8]

Uniformed individuals walk amongst the remnants of a destroyed building in a city.
Michael Jackson rewrote "What More Can I Give" in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks

Hours following the second concert, Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked and crashed four commercial passenger jet airliners as part of a coordinated sucide attack on the United States.[8][9] The attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C., and a crash near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, resulted in the loss of 2,993 lives.[10][11] Following the events of September 11, Jackson rewrote "What More Can I Give" and expressed his views on the song, writing and music. "I'm not one to sit back and say, 'Oh, I feel bad for what happened to them[...] I want the whole world to sing ["What More Can I Give"], to bring us together as a world, because a song is a mantra, something you repeat over and over. And we need peace, we need giving, we need love, we need unity."[12]


"What More Can I Give" was recorded in 2001 by a number of artists. The project had received an "overwhelming response from major artists all over the world", with musicians such as Destiny's Child, the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and Carlos Santana offering to lend their voices to the track. The recording process was held in Los Angeles, California and destinations reachable by Michael Jackson's private plane and mobile production unit. The all-star benefit followed a similar Jackson-effort: "We Are the World", which raised millions of dollars for famine relief in Africa.[13][14] The recording of "What More Can I Give" was completed in October 2001.[15]

In addition to the English-language version of "What More Can I Give", a Spanish version of the song was recorded. Entitled "Todo Para Ti", the track features several of the musicians on the English version, as well as Latin artists such as Alejandro Sanz and Cristian Castro, who only appear on the Spanish language version.[16][17] The title for "Todo Para Ti" translates to "Everything for You" in English. Producer and songwriter K. C. Porter had directly translated the title of "What More Can I Give" initially, but it was changed after Jackson expressed that he felt it was too clumsy.[18]

Artists involved

A headshot of a young man with dark-blond hair. Below his gaping mouth, a short beard grows from his chin.
Aaron Carter
A woman in makeup smiles. Her locks are held back by a hairband, and she wears an elaborate fur-like material arouns her neck.
A man with dark hair talks into a microphone. He has facial hair, and wears a dark jacket over a white shirt and striped tie.
Artist Appears on English version Appears on Spanish version
3LW Yes No
Carter, AaronAaron Carter Yes No
Sanz, AlejandroAlejandro Sanz No Yes
Anastacia Yes Yes
Knowles, BeyoncéBeyoncé Knowles Yes No
Gilman, BillyBilly Gilman Yes No
McKnight, BrianBrian McKnight Yes Yes
James, BrytonBryton James Yes No
Santana, CarlosCarlos Santana Yes Yes
Dion, CelineCeline Dion Yes Yes
Castro, CristianCristian Castro No Yes
Estefan, GloriaGloria Estefan Yes Yes
Hanson Yes No
Secada, JonJon Secada Yes Yes
Enriquez, JoyJoy Enriquez No Yes
Gabriel, JuanJuan Gabriel No Yes
Iglesias, JulioJulio Iglesias No Yes
Pausini, LauraLaura Pausini No Yes
Miguel, LuisLuis Miguel No Yes
Vandross, LutherLuther Vandross Yes Yes
Carey, MariahMariah Carey Yes Yes
McCary, MichaelMichael McCary Yes No
Jackson, MichaelMichael Jackson Yes Yes
Mýa Yes Yes
'N Sync Yes Yes
Carter, NickNick Carter Yes No
Tañón, OlgaOlga Tañón No Yes
McEntire, RebaReba McEntire Yes No
Martin, RickyRicky Martin Yes Yes
Blades, RubénRubén Blades No Yes
Shakira Yes Yes
Stockman, ShawnShawn Stockman Yes No
Thalía Yes Yes
Petty, TomTom Petty Yes No
Usher Yes No
Marley, ZiggyZiggy Marley Yes No

Live performance

"What More Can I Give" was performed live at the 9/11 benefit concert United We Stand: What More Can I Give. Held at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C. on October 21, 2001, the eight-hour concert featured numerous artists performing to a sell-out audience of 54,000 people. Jackson performed his songs "We Are the World" and "Man in the Mirror", before he and other singers such as Rod Stewart, Al Green, James Brown, Sean Combs and Pink closed the show with "What More Can I Give".[17] Joe D'Angelo of MTV later stated that the entire performance was held together by Jackson and Billy Gilman, who he claimed were the only two who looked like they knew the lyrics to the song. He concluded that the collective rendition of the song was altogether "choppy and disparate".[19] Jon Pareles also wrote negatively about the performance. He stated that it "became a shambles as [a] stageful of guests missed their cues or couldn't be heard".[20]

Jackson's appearance during the "What More Can I Give" performance was later edited out of American Broadcasting Company's airing of the show. The company were forced to take the action after representatives of Jackson informed them that CBS had demanded that the singer not perform on a network show before a Jackson special being broadcast on their channel the following month. CBS executives, however, denied their insistence on Jackson's removal from the footage. They stated that if the singer had appeared in the broadcasted footage, they most probably would have been forced to delay Jackson's show, so that it would not appear too soon after the airing of United We Stand: What More Can I Give.[21]

Planned release as a physical single

I believe in my heart that the music community will come together as one and rally to the aid of thousands of innocent victims. There is a tremendous need for relief dollars right now and through this effort each one of us can play an immediate role in helping comfort so many people.
—Michael Jackson, 2001[22]

"What More Can I Give" had been planned for release as a charity single to aid survivors and families of victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.[1] At the time of the attacks, Jackson stated that he hoped to raise $50 million for those affected.[6] It was also proclaimed by Jackson's spokesman that the recording would be released as soon as possible, with further reports revealing that it could be made available in music stores within that month.[13][23]

After the song failed to gain an official release, differing allegations arose as to who was to blame. The Los Angeles Times reported that the "What More Can I Give" project was abandoned after it emerged that the song's executive producer, Marc Schaffel, had directed and produced gay pornography. News of Schaffel's background supposedly became known to an entertainment television show, whose staff threatened to expose the producer's past in porn. Jackson's legal and management team subsequently sought to end the musician's business relationship with Schaffel, declaring their intentions in a letter sent to the producer's lawyers in November 2001.[24]

Schaffel disputed that he was the cause of "What More Can I Give" remaining unreleased, and insisted that he was not terminated from the project. The producer declared that it was not possible because his company owned the rights to "What More Can I Give". (Jackson's camp rejected the claims that Schaffel owned the rights, but did admit that the producer was in possession of the master tapes as well as video footage of all of the "What More Can I Give" recording artists in the studio.) Schaffel further announced that the failed release of the song was the fault of Jackson's music label, Sony Music. He insisted that the company had delayed the release of the song so that it would not compete with the newly released Invincible album and that they had promoted the porn-based story in order to hide that fact.[24][25] Schaffel further stated that he had never hid his past from Jackson or Sony.[26]

Jackson also blamed Sony for the failed release of "What More Can I Give". In addition, the African American singer claimed that they had failed to promote his Invincible album and that the company's chief, Tommy Mottola, was racist and "very, very, very devilish".[26][27] Sony representatives dismissed Jackson's claims as "unfounded and unwarranted".[26][27]


One year after the all-star recording of "What More Can I Give", it was played for the first time on radio. WKTU-FM, a radio station based in New York, debuted the song without permission and played it in heavy rotation. WKTU-FM's Program Director Frankie Blue stated at the time, "This song is a gift to the world. Michael and everyone donated their time for it, and it deserves to be heard. The song is called "What More Can I Give", and I can give the world a song they can cling onto and hopefully make them think about what they can give."[28] It is unknown how the station acquired a copy of the song; both Jackson and Schaffel were uninvolved with it. Prior to the airing, at least 200 promo copies of the song were sent to the musicians who participated in the recording process, as well as to their representatives. Schaffel stated that he would hate to see the song not being used to raise money for charity, the intended purpose. WKTU-FM received numerous telephone calls and emails from listeners following their unauthorized playing of the song, thanking the station and asking where they could buy a copy of "What More Can I Give".[28]

Release as a digital single

"What More Can I Give" was eventually made available as a digital download on October 27, 2003. The websites whatmorecanigive.com and musicforgiving.com sold the song at a price of $2 per download, with a portion of the proceeds from the fee going towards children's charities such as Oneness, Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation and the International Child Art Foundation.[29] The charities support arts programs to eliminate racism, increase education and connect children throughout the world, respectively. The download project had been set up by Jackson with the American media company Clear Channel Communications.[30]


  1. ^ a b "McEntire, Gilman Join Michael Jackson Recording". Country Music Television. (September 26, 2001). http://www.cmt.com/news/news-in-brief/1449257/mcentire-gilman-join-michael-jackson-recording.jhtml. Retrieved November 12, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Country beat: Alan Jackson, Lonestar, Hal Ketchum ...". MTV. (October 5, 2001). http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1449695/20011005/jackson_alan.jhtml. Retrieved November 11, 2009. 
  3. ^ Halstead, p. 351
  4. ^ "Jackson rejects abuse allegations". BBC News. (April 13, 1999). http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/317992.stm. Retrieved November 12, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Pop star's latest song is dedicated to refugees". Deseret News. (April 13, 1999). http://www.deseretnews.com/article/691148/. Retrieved November 12, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b Martens, Ellin (October 8, 2001). "People: Oct. 8, 2001". Time. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1000954,00.html. Retrieved November 12, 2009. 
  7. ^ Friedman, Roger (October 13, 2001). "Jagger Exits Charity Show as Jacko Takes Over". Fox News. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,36367,00.html. Retrieved November 12, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b Grant, p. 218
  9. ^ "Prior hints of September 11-type attack". CNN. (May 18, 2002). http://edition.cnn.com/2002/US/05/17/bush.sept.11/. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  10. ^ "The story of September 11". The Daily Telegraph. (October 19, 2001). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1400425/The-story-of-September-11.html. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  11. ^ Graham, Charlotte A. (September 11, 2009). "Never forget". Ada Evening News. http://www.adaeveningnews.com/leadercall/homepage/local_story_254110618.html. Retrieved November 11, 2009. 
  12. ^ "This kind of thing could inspire a song". The Spokesman-Review. (October 21, 2001). http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=SR&p_theme=sr&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EF5FB3A2E126FAD&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM. Retrieved November 12, 2009. 
  13. ^ a b Gunderson, Edna (September 16, 2001). "Michael Jackson writes, casts a benefit ballad". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/2001-09-17-michael-jackson.htm. Retrieved November 12, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Jackson plans record for attack victims". BBC News. (September 17, 2001). http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/1548056.stm. Retrieved November 12, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Jackson completes charity single". BBC News. (October 28, 2001). http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/1624586.stm. Retrieved November 12, 2009. 
  16. ^ Jackson, Michael. "What More Can I Give" song credits. Epic Records.
  17. ^ a b Grant, pp. 220–221
  18. ^ VanHorn, Teri (October 22, 2001). "'NSYNC Join Jackson's Charity Single; Mariah, Celine Sing In Spanish". MTV. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1450268/20011022/n_sync.jhtml. Retrieved November 12, 2009. 
  19. ^ D'Angelo, Joe (October 22, 2001). "'NSYNC, Michael Jackson, P. Diddy, Mariah Stand United At D.C. Concert". MTV. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1450229/20011022/n_sync.jhtml. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  20. ^ Pareles, Jon (October 23, 2001). "United They Stood, for an Awfully Long Time". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/23/arts/pop-review-united-they-stood-for-an-awfully-long-time.html. Retrieved November 11, 2009. 
  21. ^ Carter, Bill (November 1, 2001). "At Jackson's Request, ABC Cuts A Song Out of a Concert Tape". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/01/business/at-jackson-s-request-abc-cuts-a-song-out-of-a-concert-tape.html. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  22. ^ "Singers raise money for relief fund by joining in ensemble efforts". Jet. (October 8, 2001). http://books.google.com/books?id=YsMDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA56&dq=%22michael+jackson%22+%22what+more+can+i+give%22&ei=wpvkSp-IAY-SNpLjjNUL#v=onepage&q=%22michael%20jackson%22%20%22what%20more%20can%20i%20give%22&f=false. Retrieved November 11, 2009. 
  23. ^ D'Angelo, Joe (September 17, 2001). "Jackson Taps Britney, More For Song To Help Terrorism Victims". MTV. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1448892/20010917/jackson_michael.jhtml. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  24. ^ a b Vineyard, Jennifer (July 12, 2009). "Did Porn, Sony Or McDonald's Sink Jackson Charity Single?". MTV. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1456078/20020712/jackson_michael.jhtml. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  25. ^ Gundersen, Edna (July 18, 2002). "Jackson charity single tied up in limbo". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2002-07-18-jackson_x.htm. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  26. ^ a b c Gunderson, Edna (July 14, 2002). "Jackson's 9-11 single produced by gay-porn maker". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/2002/07-15-jackson.htm. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  27. ^ a b "Release of Jackson's Sept 11 charity single in doubt". ABC News. (July 13, 2002). http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200207/s606109.htm. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  28. ^ a b Moss, Corey (October 3, 2002). "Michael Jackson's 9/11 Single Hits Radio One Year Late". MTV. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1457907/20021002/jackson_michael.jhtml. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  29. ^ Grant, p. 236
  30. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (October 29, 2003). "Michael Jackson's Troubled 9/11 Single Now A Charity Download". MTV. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1480055/20031029/jackson_michael.jhtml?headlines=true. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  • Grant, Adrian (2009). Michael Jackson: The Visual Documentary. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9781849382618. 
  • Halstead, Craig (2007). Michael Jackson: For the Record. Authors On Line. ISBN 9780755202676. 

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