In 2005, Mark Johnson was walking in Santa Monica, California, when he heard the voice of Roger Ridley (now deceased) singing “Stand By Me.”  Roger had so much soul and conviction in his voice, and Mark approached him about performing “Stand By Me” as a Song Around The World. Roger agreed, and when Mark returned with recording equipment and cameras he asked Roger, “With a voice like yours, why are you singing on the streets?” Roger replied, “Man I’m in the Joy business, I come out to be with the people.” Ever since that day, the Playing For Change crew has traveled the world recording and filming musicians, creating Songs Around The World, and building a global family.
Creating Songs Around The World inspired the PFC crew to unite many of the greatest musicians they met throughout their journey through the creation of the Playing For Change Band. These musicians come from many different countries and cultures, but through music they speak the same language. The PFC Band is now touring the world and spreading the message of love and hope to audiences everywhere.
The true measure of any movement is what it gives back to the people. The founders of Playing For Change therefore created the Playing For Change Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to building music and art schools for children around the world, and creating hope and inspiration for the future of our planet.
The Playing for Change Foundation is a non-profit organization 501(c)3, dedicated to creating and supporting music schools, principally in developing countries. Five music schools and a total of nine music programs have been created since 2008:
In 2011, the Playing For Change Foundation joined forces with the 1Love Foundation in order to establish an annual Playing For Change Day. The goal of the annual Playing For Change Day is to “unite a global community through the power of music to affect positive social change”. In 2012, the PFC Day consisted of over 330 events across 52 countries and helped raise over $150,000 for the Playing For Change and 1Love Foundations, and in 2013, 1Love PFC Day saw over 300 events in 56 countries.
In 2013, the Foundation introduced the Stand by Me Scholarship program, allowing people to sponsor a child to learn music for an entire year. Scholarships are need-based and are given to children who could not participate otherwise. Donors can either make a one-time gift to fund a student, or set up monthly contributions. Click here to make a donation and support music education for children worldwide.
A CD/DVD compilation Playing For Change: Songs Around The World was released in 2009 on the Concord Music Group label. The CD has 10 songs. The DVD has seven tracks, including video versions of five of the songs that appeared on the CD, plus a video film, The Playing for Change Foundation. The DVD also contains a three-minute trailer of the documentary film Peace Through Music.
In October 2009 an 83-minute documentary film, Peace Through Music, directed by Mark Johnson and Jonathan Walls, was released on DVD. The directors and their crew travelled the world recording and filming musicians in places such as USA, Barcelona, Ireland, the Middle East, India, Nepal, and South Africa. The film includes the clips from the CD/DVD, interviews and musical performances.
The Playing For Change website also sells the tracks in MP3 format via download, although this is limited to US customers only. The album was also released on iTunes in April 2009.
In June 2010, Playing For Change released the CD/DVD showcase "Playing For Change LIVE" as the next chapter in their journey to connect the world through music. Ten years ago, they started recording and filming musicians from across the globe and uniting them together through “Songs Around The World.” This DVD/CD is a showcase of the first time they have ever met in person and played together on the stage. The musicians come from different countries and cultures but when the music plays, they unite as one heart for the human race. This showcase contains 19 tracks on 2 CDs.