Playing for Change

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Playing For Change is a multimedia music project, co-founded in 2002 by American music engineer/producer Mark Johnson and film producer/philanthropist Whitney Kroenke, that seeks to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. Playing For Change also created a separate non-profit organization called the Playing For Change Foundation, which builds music and art schools for children around the world.


Playing For Change was born in 2002 as a shared vision between co-founders, Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke, to hit the streets of America with a mobile recording studio and cameras in search of inspiration and the heartbeat of the people. Producers Johnson and Enzo Buono traveled around the world to places including New Orleans, Barcelona, South Africa, India, Nepal, the Middle East and Ireland. Using mobile recording equipment, the duo recorded local musicians performing the same song, interpreted in their own style. Among the artists participating or openly involved in the project are Vusi Mahlasela, Louis Mhlanga, Clarence Bekker, David Guido Pietroni, Tal Ben Ari (Tula), Bono, Keb' Mo', David Broza, Manu Chao, Grandpa Elliott, Keith Richards, Toots Hibbert from Toots & the Maytals, Taj Mahal and Stephen Marley. This resulted in the award-winning documentary A Cinematic Discovery of Street Musicians.

In 2005, Mark Johnson was walking in Santa Monica, California, when he heard the voice of Roger Ridley (now deceased) singing "Stand By Me." [1] 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 founders of Playing For Change created the Playing For Change Foundation, a separate 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.

PFC Online Global Community[edit]

PFC videos have exceeded an estimated 500 million online views, continuing to grow steadily through active & dedicated community members from 195 countries.

Playing For Change Records[edit]

● "Songs Around The World” features over 100 musicians from 21 countries

Debuted #10 on Top 200 Billboard Chart 2009, #1 on World Music Charts 2009, AP Top Ten album of the year 2009, & Platinum Award - Brazil

● “PFC2 Songs Around The World” features over 150 musicians from 25 countries

Debuted #1 Billboard World Music Charts 2011 & Platinum Award - Brazil

● “PFC3 Songs Around The World” features over 185 musicians from 31 countries

Debuted #1 on the 2014 FNAC charts in Brazil

● “Playing For Change: Listen to the Music" was released in April 2018 via Motema Music and features 210 musicians from 25 countries.

Musical Collaborations[edit]

● Has recorded more than 1,000 musicians from 50+ countries

● Has worked with Bono (U2), Keith Richards (Rolling Stones), Manu Chao, Toots Hibbert, Ziggy Marley, Keb’ Mo’, Baaba Maal, Char, Tinariwen, Los Lobos, Jackson Browne, Taj Mahal, Jimmy Buffett, Sara Bareilles, Maroon 5, Robert Plant, John Densmore, Stephen Marley, Bombino, Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead), David Crosby, Chad Smith (The Red Hot Chili Peppers), Jason Mraz, Josh Groban, Jake Shimabukuro, Yo-Yo Ma, Citizen Cope, Bernie Williams, Trombone Shorty, Buddy Guy, The Doobie Brothers (Tom Johnston, John McFee and Pat Simmons), Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, Tom Morello, James Gadson, Pancho Amat, Warren Haynes, Ivan and Cyril Neville, Rocky Dawuni, Jon Cleary, Donald Kinsey, Lee Oskar (from the band War), Dr. John, and Robbie Robertson.

● PFC “Daylight” video made for Maroon 5 was #1 on VH1 and MTV top 20 video countdown

● PFC Song Around The World “Ripple” in honor of the Grateful Dead’s 50th Anniversary premiered at their final “Fare Thee Well” concert in Chicago.

Playing For Change Band[edit]

10 musicians from 10 countries play together onstage as a tangible representation of our mission to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music.

● More than 300 performances in over 13 countries since 2008

Tonight Show with Jay Leno & with Conan O'Brien, Globo TV (Brazil) appearance to over 25 million viewers

● Skoll Forum, Starbucks Shareholders meeting, Google/YouTube major event, Hollywood Bowl, Caja Magica, New Orleans Jazz Festival, Belo Horizonte Festival, Glastonbury Festival England, DirectTV Arena Argentina, Byron Bay Bluesfest (4x), 3 World Economic Forums, and the United Nations (3x)

● Opener for Robert Plant for his Australian tour

● Collaborated with Toots & the Maytals, Ziggy Marley, Keb’ Mo’, Baaba Maal, and Tinariwen, Jimmy Buffett, Jackson Browne, Taj Mahal, The Doobie Brothers, Little Feat, and many more.

Playing For Change Foundation[edit]

The Playing for Change Foundation is a non-profit organization 501(c)3, dedicated to creating and supporting music schools, principally in developing countries. Three music schools and a total of twelve music programs have been created since 2008:

In 2011, the Playing For Change Foundation established an annual Playing For Change Day.[2] The goal of Playing For Change Day is to "unite a global community through the power of music to affect positive social change".[2] In 2012, the PFC Day consisted of over 330 events across 52 countries and helped raise over $150,000 for the Playing For Change Foundation, and in 2014, PFC Day saw over 400 events in 60 countries.[2] It is held on the Saturday nearest the United Nations' International Day of Peace, which takes place each year on Sept. 21. In 2015, Playing for Change Day was celebrated on September 19. The sixth-annual Playing for Change Day was on September 24, 2016.[2]

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.


"Stand by Me"
(Jerry Leiber / Mike Stoller / Ben E. King)
Roger Ridley: vocals, acoustic guitar
Clarence Bekker: vocals
Grandpa Elliott: vocals, harmonica
Vusi Mahlasela: vocals
Sinamuva: choir vocals
Bhekani Memela: choir arrangement
Washboard Chas: washboard
Twin Eagle Drum Group: drum
Junior Kissangwa Mbouta: drums
Django "Bambolino" Degen: congas
François Viguié: pandeiro
Cesar Pope: cavaquinho
Dimitri Dolgonov: cello
Roberto Luti: National guitar
Geraldo Osal "el Poeta": tres
Dionisio Lopez: electric bass
Pokei Klaas: upright bass
Reggie McBride: upright bass
Stefano Tomaselli: alto sax
"One Love"
(Bob Marley)
Keb' Mo': vocals
Mermens Kenkosenki: vocals
Manu Chao: Guitar and Vocals
Tal Ben Ari "Tula": vocals
Vusi Mahlasela: vocals
Sinamuva: choir vocals
Bhekani Memela: choir arrangement
Martin Machapa: vocals, choir arrangement
Tenzin Jamyang: vocals
Tenzin Jigme: vocals
Tenzin Ingsel: vocals
Vinaya, Saindhavi and Shruti: vocals
Roberto Luti: National guitar
Menyatso Nathole: electric guitar
Gabriel Thobeiane: congas
Clayton Gibb: banjo
Surendra Shrestha: tablas
Junior Kissangwa Mbouta: drums
William Aura: electric bass
Louis Mhlanga: guitar
Tara Bir Singh Tuladhar: sitar
Venkat: shaker
Rajhesh Vaidhya: veena
"War" / "No More Trouble"
(Carlton Barrett / Allen Cole / Bob Marley)
Rocky Dawuni: vocals
Bono: vocals
Mermens Kenkosenki: vocals
Jason Tamba: vocals, guitar
Vinaya, Saindhavi and Shruti: vocals
Bob Marley: vocals
The Omagh Community Youth Choir: vocals
Daryl J. Simpson: choir director
Kevin Moor II: drums
Tshotsho Fikisi: congas
Biziko: djembe
Cathy Jordan: bodhran
David Broza: guitar
Louis Mhlanga: guitar
Jimi Indi Phiri: electric bass
Radwin Nazar: violin
Ramzi Bishara: darbuka
Punya Srinivas: veena
Saroja: dilruba
Venkat: tablas and shaker
(Peter Gabriel)
Rocky Dawuni: vocals
Keb' Mo': vocals, electric/acoustic guitar
Cathy Jordan: vocals, bodhran
The Omagh Community Youth Choir: vocals
Daryl J. Simpson: choir director
Nana Ama: vocals
Margaret Gbindey: vocals
Belinda Darko: vocals
Vinaya, Saindhavi and Krithikaa: vocals
Roberto Luti: National guitar
Liam O Maonlai: vocals, didgeridoo
Kamalakar: flute
Venkat: tablas
Michael Holmes: bouzouki
Shane Mitchell: accordion
Brian McDonagh: mandola
"Don't Worry"
(Pierre Minetti)
Pierre Minetti: vocals, guitar
Clarence Bekker: vocals
Tal Ben Ari "Tula": vocals
Sinamuva: choir vocals
Bhekani Memela: choir arrangement
Junior Kissangwa Mbouta: drums
Dinesh Sunam: vocals
Venkat: tavil drums
Washboard Chaz: washboard
Django "Bambolino" Degen: triangle
Grandpa Elliott: harmonica
Rajhesh Vaidhya: veena
Tenzin Jigme: electric guitar
"Talkin' Bout A Revolution"
(Tracy Chapman)
Mermens Kenkosenki: vocals
Jason Tamba: vocals, guitar
Tshotsho Fikisi: congas
"Better Man"
(Kevin Moore / Anders Osborne)
Keb' Mo': vocals, dobro
Valeria Pinkston: backup vocals
Kristle Murden: backup vocals
Alexandra Brown: backup vocals
Reggie McBride: backup vocals, electric bass
Jeff Paris: backup vocals, guitar
Les Faulkner: backup vocals, drums
Clayton Gibb: banjo
Poncho Sanchez: congas
"Chanda Mama"
(Ananda Giri / Enzo Buono)
Tal Ben Ari "Tula": vocals
Noel Schajris: vocals
Sinamuva: choir vocals
Bhekani Memela: choir arrangement
Vinaya, Saindhavi and Shruti: vocals
Enzo Buono: guitar
Marcello "Gaucho": charango
Santiago Maggi: upright bass
Damien Assertes: accordion
Sibongiseni Mbanjwa: violin
Paulo Morais: pandeiro
Roberto Luti: National guitar
Louis Mhlanga: guitar
Stefano Tomaselli: alto sax
Junior Kissangwa Mbouta: drums
Reinaldo Elosegui: guiro
"Love Rescue Me"
(U2 / Bob Dylan)
Daryl J. Simpson: choir director, piano
Brian McNamee: guitar
The Omagh Community Youth Choir:
"A Change Is Gonna Come"
(Sam Cooke)
Clarence Bekker: vocals
Grandpa Elliott: vocals, harmonica
Louis Mhlanga: electric guitar
Peter Bunetta: drums
Reggie McBride: electric bass
Mohammed Alidu: djembe
(John Lennon)
Cheche Alara: keyboard
Clarence Bekker: vocals
Fernando Vidal: electric guitar
Reinaldo Popo: guitar
Binho: drums
Yu Hatakeyama: drums
James Gadson: drums
Noel Schajris: vocals
Rajhesh Vaidhya: Veena
Pretinho da Serrinha: tambourine
R. Selvaraj: cello
Gingger Shankar: violin
Ijeoma Njaka: vocals
Tintale Village Teaching Center: vocals
Ecole de Musique de Kirina: vocals
Grandpa Elliott: harmonica
Rubin Shrestha: flute
Tamika McClellan: vocals
Raju Maharjan: drums
Cicinho De Assis: accordion
Bizung School of Music and Dance: vocals and drums
John Lennon: vocals
Ntonga Music School: drums
"La bamba"
(Mexican traditional)
Los Lobos: Vocals and guitar
Tlen Huicani: Guitars
Francisco Ibarra: Accordion
Alberto Manuel De La Rosa: Harp
Carlos Rodriguez: Guitar
La Marisoul: Vocals
Papa Orbe Ortiz: Guitar
Salvador Persico: Drum
Andrés Calamaro: Vocals and Guitar
Pablo Correa: Drum kit
Mariano Dominguez: Guitar
Kila: Guitar
Nikola Petakovic: Guitar
Baby-Black-Ndombe: Vocals
Bassekou Kouyate: Ngoni


External links[edit]