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- Posted on Jan 26th 2012 2:50PM by Mark Johnson
Playing for Change
Music is our greatest tool for healing broken countries, cultures and hearts. The worldwide movement of Playing For Change began seven years ago on the streets of Santa Monica, Calif., with one man and his guitar. The musician's name was Roger Ridley and he was singing the timeless classic, 'Stand by Me.' I asked Roger why, with so much talent, he was singing on the streets. He replied, "Because I'm in the joy business, I come out here and bring joy to the people."
Shortly after recording and filming Roger, we headed to New Orleans to see what music we could find after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. We met another street legend named Grandpa Elliott and asked him to participate in the PFC project. Grandpa had been performing on the streets for 60 years! He added his soulful voice and harmonica to our 'Stand by Me' recording and video. We then headed to New Mexico to record the Zuni Indians and add their drums to 'Stand by Me' as well as some other of our songs. They added such a unique dimension to the music and taught us that no matter who we are or where we come from, we are all united through music.
These musicians, along with Roger and Grandpa, inspired us to continue our journey around the world recording and filming musicians with the intention of building a global family united through music. Playing for Change has now created over 15 different songs around the world as well as a documentary titled 'Peace Through Music.' We have recorded and filmed over 500 musicians in 30 countries, and are constantly reminded that no matter how many things divide us in this world, they will never be as strong as the things that unite us.
Great music and great art exist everywhere. This project demonstrates this reality and offers us alternatives to the music we hear on modern radio or watch on the television. During our journey we dreamed about connecting the musicians we where meeting together and making a touring band. A few years ago we created the Playing For Change band, made up of musicians we have met around the world. The love they share for each other is transmitted into the music, and together with the audience they create a world where we are going to make it as a human race, one heart and one song at a time.
The true measure of any movement is what it gives back to the people. Three years ago we created the Playing for Change Foundation to build music and art schools around the world for children and unite them together through technology. With this idea, children in Africa can meet children in North America through technology, they can exchange music and their culture and get rid of stereotypes and prejudice. We have currently established eight music and art schools in five countries around the world and our programs offer hope and music education to over 1,000 children. This is just the beginning.
One Love, Mark.
Download Playing for Change Songs | Buy Playing for Change Albums