Almost Like Praying

    By Justin Lucas

    In September of 2017, the most deadly natural disaster in US history swept across the US territory of Puerto Rico. Hurricane María ripped through the Caribbean touting 155 mile-per-hour winds and up to 40 inches of rainfall in some areas of Puerto Rico. This resulted in $90 billion in damages including power outages lasting almost a year in some areas and a death total of at least 3,000. The need for aid in this situation was dire and prompted Lin-Manuel Miranda to produce “Almost Like Praying” in an attempt to raise funds for the rebuilding of the island.

    Miranda is one of the most prolific songwriters of his generation, producing a plethora of compositions for use in films and plays alike. His reputation is reinforced by a score of awards, including several Tony Awards, Grammy Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize for his lead role in the hit musical Hamilton among many others.

    Miranda was born in 1980 in New York City to two immigrant parents from Puerto Rico. In his efforts to produce “Almost Like Praying”, Manuel recruited an “all-star cast of Latinx artists, including Jenifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan, Fat Joe, Ruben Blades, Luis Fonsi, Rita Moreno, and many others.” All of these efforts are in an attempt to raise money for the Hispanic Federation’s Hurricane Relief Fund. 

    The effects of the song were immediate. While the song itself generated millions of dollars in sales, the most significant part of the song was in the lyrics themselves. The majority of the song consists of the recitation of the 78 towns in Puerto Rico. This was a tremendously impactful decision on Manuel’s part because it fostered a sense of unity within the community of Puerto Rico and a sense of local pride as struggling residents were able to hear the name of their town being sung by some of the most prolific Hispanic artists of the era. Although data regarding the total raised directly from the song is unavailable, $20 million dollars was raised indirectly for the foundation, and the song achieved tremendous success, peaking at 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

    Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1IBXE2G6zw

    Bibliography

    Contreras, Felix, and Robin Hilton. “Lin-Manuel Miranda Explains How He Made His New Benefit Song For Puerto Rico.” NPR, October 5, 2017, sec. All Songs Considered. https://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/2017/10/05/555855858/lin-manuel-miranda-explains-how-he-made-his-new-benefit-song-for-puerto-rico.

    Hernández Ayala, José J., and Rafael Méndez-Tejeda. “How Much Rainfall Did Hurricane María Really Drop in Puerto Rico?” Weather 76, no. 9 (2021): 313–16. https://doi.org/10.1002/wea.3898.

    By Justin Lucas In September of 2017, the most deadly natural disaster in US history swept across the US territory of Puerto Rico. Hurricane María ripped through the Caribbean touting 155 mile-per-hour winds and up to 40 inches of rainfall in some areas of Puerto Rico. This resulted in $90 billion in damages including power…

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