Almost Like Praying

Album: Single release only (2017)
Charted: 20

Songfacts®:

  • The mass destruction that Hurricane Maria created in Puerto Rico during September 2017 stunned Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has family of his own on the island. The Hamilton creator decided to get involved by writing and recording a benefit song. Miranda said:

    "I, like pretty much anyone with family on the island, I shared with every Puerto Rican those terrible days of silence after the storm hit, when there was just no communication from the island. I heard from my family four days after, five days after - some people are still waiting."
  • Miranda penned the song the day after Hurricane Maria. The hook and title of the song are based on the song "Maria," from the musical West Side Story. Miranda called legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim to ask him for permission to use the line "almost like praying" in the track.

    "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," explained Miranda. "So my mind began flipping lyrics from 'Maria' to figure out how we could flip this tragedy into something positive."
  • Miranda brought together an all-star Latin cast to record the benefit track, including: Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony and Camila Cabello, Fat Joe, Ruben Blades, Luis Fonsi, and Rita Moreno. It was recorded at studios in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and Miranda himself traveled to each studio to work with the artists.
  • The message of the song is that everyone of Puerto Rican ancestry is united, wherever they might live now, by the island. Miranda explained to Billboard:

    "In the wake of the hurricane, there was this terrible silence where we [Puerto Ricans who live off the island] just didn't hear anything. The power grid was destroyed, there was no cell service. And what I saw most on Facebook or Twitter were my friends and my family listing the names of towns: 'My godmother is in Hatillo; My uncle is in Isabela.' These towns that I know so well because our island is not that big. I thought I could work all 78 towns in Puerto Rico into the lyrics of this song and if we did our job right, these towns will never be forgotten again. It's the shared ancestry. Whenever you meet somebody from Puerto Rico, you go, 'De dónde eres?' (Where are you from?) Your town is your identifier. I thought of lyrics that would unite us."
  • The sound of the Puerto Rican coqui frog can be heard at the beginning and the end of the song.
  • All the song's proceeds benefit the Hispanic Federation's UNIDOS Disaster Relief Fund.

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