Hear Lin-Manuel Miranda Talk About His New Song For Puerto Rico, 'Almost Like Praying' : All Songs Considered "Almost Like Praying" will raise money for hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. "I'd much rather be writing a song than jumping up and down and making noise," Miranda tells NPR.

Lin-Manuel Miranda Explains How He Made His New Benefit Song For Puerto Rico

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Lin-Manuel Miranda was watching Hurricane Maria devastate Puerto Rico and was moved to help. The genius behind the musical "Hamilton," writing songs is Miranda's specialty. The result, a new song called "Almost Like Praying." And Miranda got some famous friends in on the track. Rita Moreno, Ruben Blades, J. Lo, "Despacito's" Luis Fonsi and others lent their voices. All the proceeds from the song go to hurricane relief on the island. As for that title, "Almost Like Praying" - sound familiar? Miranda says he connected Maria the hurricane to the song "Maria" from "West Side Story."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MARIA")

RICHARD BEYMOR: (Singing) Maria. Say it loud, and there's music playing.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So he took that, and he came up with this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALMOST LIKE PRAYING")

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: (Singing) Say it loud, and there's music playing. Say it soft, and it's almost like praying. It's almost praying. It's almost like praying. It's almost like praying.

You know, I was very aware, even as it was happening, that this was the worst hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in a hundred years. That eye just sat on the island for a long time. It's a Category 5 hurricane. And I knew that Maria would forever have a different connotation on the island as a result of that. And that's my favorite song from "West Side Story."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALMOST LIKE PRAYING")

RUBEN BLADES, JUAN LUIS GUERRA: (Singing in Spanish).

MIRANDA: (Singing) It's almost like praying.

RUBEN BLADES: (Singing) Puerto Rico.

JENNIFER LOPEZ: (Singing) Puerto Rico. (Singing in Spanish).

MIRANDA: For Puerto Ricans who live all over the world who have a connection and family on the island, there was a terrible silence, several days where we were just waiting for word. And my Twitter feed, my Facebook feed was just filled with family members listing the names of towns where their families were living and from. My grandmother's in Lares. My uncle lives in Hatillo. My uncle is in Vega Alta. Has anyone seen them? Has anyone heard from them? And I thought, well, the only lyric that really unites us and makes the most sense for a fundraising song is if I can somehow write a lyric that includes all 78 towns in Puerto Rico so that no one feels left out. And no one's town feels forgotten.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALMOST LIKE PRAYING")

GINA RODRIGUEZ: (Rapping) Trujillo Alto, Ceiba, Ciales, La isla de Vieques, el grito de Lares.

JOELL ORTIZ: (Rapping) Yauco.

RODRIGUEZ: (Rapping) Cidra.

ORITZ: (Rapping) Anasco.

RODRIGUEZ: (Rapping) Patillas.

JOELL ORTIZ, GINA RODRIGUEZ: (Rapping) Morovis, Loiza, lo hiciste.

MIRANDA: You know, some of these people are old friends. Rita Moreno has been a friend for many years. And so you make those calls first. And to a person, everybody said yes having not heard the song. I was recording with Rita Moreno, and she said, is Gloria Estafan on this? And I said, I don't have Gloria Estafan's number. And she whips out her phone. She goes, here's Gloria Estafan's number. And the next day, we're recording Gloria Estafan.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALMOST LIKE PRAYING")

BLADES: (Singing) Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico.

MIRANDA: I hope it provides catharsis. It certainly provided catharsis for me to write it. And I also hope the names of these towns will never be forgotten. And I hope that people have a catharsis. To quote the kids, they cry in the club, And then we get back to work because we have a lot of work to do.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALMOST LIKE PRAYING")

MIRANDA: (Singing) It's almost like praying.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Lin-Manuel Miranda talking about "Almost Like Praying." All proceeds from the purchase and online streaming of the song, go to the Hispanic Federation's relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PUERTO RICO")

FRANKIE RUIZ: (Singing in Spanish).

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