Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has positioned himself as a fervent advocate for La Isla de Encanto, has spent the last several weeks drawing attention to the plight of Puerto Ricans. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria – a Category 4 storm that caused a complete power outage and has made it difficult for many to access water and food – Miranda has criticized President Donald Trump for mischaracterizing San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and Puerto Ricans and drawn attention to the fundraising efforts of the Hispanic Federation. For the last two weeks, he has talked about Puerto Rico nonstop, because as media coverage lags behind, he understands the importance of being a megaphone for the island. For days, he teased the release of a new song to raise funds for Puerto Rico, and on Friday morning he finally dropped “Almost Like Praying.”
He assembled a roster filled with superstars like Jennifer Lopez, Ruben Blades, Fat Joe, Rita Moreno, and many more. He wore out his Rolodex trying to find collaborators and even turned to Twitter to recruit more celebrities. (Edgardo Miranda, mastermind behind La Borinqueña comic book, created the cover art for the song.) The song draws on his heritage and of course, his musical background. One line references West Side Story’s “Maria,” according to NPR.
As a humanitarian crisis has unfolded in Puerto Rico, Lin-Manuel has shared in many others’ exasperation, but he remains hopeful. “Despite the slowness of the U.S. government’s response, I’ve never had more faith in people and American people and people all over the world. My Twitter feed is full of kids breaking their piggy banks to donate,” he told NPR. “People saying we were going to go on vacation, now we’re going to use that money and send it to Puerto Rico instead. People taking their weekend to package supplies. It makes me cry to think about it. And if the government’s response were commensurate with the people’s spirit and compassion we’d be on the road to recovery and ending this crisis so much faster. So it’s this weird dichotomy of being frustrated like everybody else and jumping up and down and making noise, but also being incredibly hopeful about the human spirit.”
Check out “Almost Like Praying,” which will raise money for the Hispanic Federation’s Hurricane Relief Fund, above.