The Little Girl Who Provided The Magical "Make The World A Better Place" Line At The Beginning Of Michael Jackson's Heal The World Anthem Grew Up To Become The Widow Of An Iraq War Hero.
Ashley Farrell beat out over 100 kids to become the sweet-voiced girl who insisted "we have to think about making the world a better place for our children and our children's children" just before the King of Pop started singing on the 1992 hit, and she went on to become one of the youngsters who joined Jackson onstage at the Super Bowl Half-Time Show in Pasadena, California in 1993.
But, a decade after the magical moment, her life was turned upside down when her husband, Evan Ashcraft, was killed in action after he was part of the unit which tracked down and killed one of dictator Saddam Hussein's sons.
Jackson's longtime engineer, Matt Forger, who recorded little Ashley's thoughts about the world for Jackson's song, says, "Michael said, 'You have to get children talking about the world and the environment and it's gotta be honest...', so I went to schools, parks, I called every family friend that I knew that had children... I must have recorded 125 children and I was with Ashley, who was a relative of my wife's, and she went into this thing, and at that moment I said, 'I got it'. I knew instantly, after working months on this, that that was the recording. I played it for Michael and he said, 'Wow, that's perfect!'"
"The Dangerous album came out and there was a snafu and her name wasn't on the credits and what happened was Michael was doing the Super Bowl performance, so I made a call and I said, 'Look, this little girl didn't get her name on the album and you know what would be really good - it would be really nice if she could get a moment of recognition', so she ended up being the little girl standing right next to Michael on the stage as he performed Heal The World surrounded by young fans.
"She was never paid, because she signed off on the recording, but when the record company discovered her name had been left off the initial album credits, they put together a gift bag full of items. She was thrilled. The error was corrected in reprintings of the album."
Forger adds, "Michael never knew that little girl grew up to be a war widow and to this day it's astonishing to think this was the girl who said, 'We have to make the world a better place'.
"Her husband was attempting to do this when he was killed in action. I don't know if he was the actual sniper who shot and killed Saddam's son but he was a part of the unit, and then he himself was killed. Ashley was devastated... We're not all that close now but I believe that after some difficult years, she has now moved on with her life and has a significant other."