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. 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 founded in 2002 by Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke.[1][2] 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.[3][4][5] This resulted in the documentary A Cinematic Discovery of Street Musicians that won the Audience Award at the Woodstock Film Festival in September 2008.[6][7]

Mark Johnson was walking in Santa Monica, California, when he heard the voice of Roger Ridley (deceased in 2005)[8] singing "Stand By Me"; it was this experience that sent Playing For Change on its mission to connect the world through music.[9]

The founders of Playing For Change created the Playing For Change Foundation, a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

Playing For Change Records[edit]

Year Album title Performers Countries Notable achievements
2009 Songs Around The World 100 musicians 21 countries Debuted #10 on Top 200 Billboard Chart 2009
#1 on World Music Charts 200
AP Top Ten album of the year 2009
Platinum Award - Brazil
2011 PFC2 Songs Around The World 150 musicians 25 countries Debuted #1 Billboard World Music Charts 2011
Platinum Award - Brazil
2014 PFC3 Songs Around The World 185 musicians 31 countries Debuted #1 on the 2014 FNAC charts in Brazil
2018 Playing For Change: Listen to the Music 210 musicians 25 countries

Musical collaborations[edit]

● Has recorded more than 1,000 musicians from 50+ countries[10]

● Has worked with Bono[11] (from the band U2), Keith Richards[12] (from the band The Rolling Stones), Manu Chao,[13] Toots Hibbert,[14] Ziggy Marley,[15] Keb' Mo', Baaba Maal, Char,[16] Tinariwen,[17] Los Lobos, Jackson Browne, Taj Mahal,[18] Jimmy Buffett,[19] Sara Bareilles,[20] Maroon 5, Robert Plant, John Densmore,[21] Stephen Marley, Bombino,[22] Bill Kreutzmann[23] (from the band Grateful Dead), David Crosby,[24] Chad Smith (from the Red Hot Chili Peppers), Jason Mraz, Josh Groban, Jake Shimabukuro, Yo-Yo Ma, Citizen Cope, Bernie Williams, Trombone Shorty, Buddy Guy,[25] The Doobie Brothers[26] (Tom Johnston, John McFee and Pat Simmons), Jack Johnson,[27] Ben Harper, Tom Morello,[28] Nattali Rize[29] Billy Branch[30] James Gadson,[31] Pancho Amat, Warren Haynes,[32] Ivan and Cyril Neville,[33] Rocky Dawuni,[34] David Guido Pietroni, Jon Cleary, Donald Kinsey,[35] Lee Oskar[36] (from the band War), Robbie Robertson and Dr. John,[37] Ringo Starr.[38]

Playing For Change Foundation[edit]

The Playing for Change Foundation is a non-profit organization 501(c)3, 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.[41] The goal of Playing For Change Day is to "unite a global community through the power of music to affect positive social change".[41] 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.[41] 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.[41]

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.[42] Donors can either make a one-time gift to fund a student, or set up monthly contributions.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Playing For Change Explained Mark Johnson explaining Playing for Change
  2. ^ "Mark Johnson, Co Creator of 'Playing For Change'", Focus on the Good, April 21, 2016.
  3. ^ "Playing for Change Foundation", Performing Art, Pureland Foundation.
  4. ^ "Playing change Team and Keith Richards Connect World Through Music". Colorado Public Radio. Archived from the original on 2019-04-22. Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  5. ^ "Playing for Change", Bill Moyers Journal, October 24, 2008.
  6. ^ "Playing for Change", Concord.
  7. ^ "2008 Awards", Woodstock Film Festival.
  8. ^ "Roger Ridley - Roger Ridley/street performer - HOME". Roger Ridley. Archived from the original on April 13, 2008.
  9. ^ "Roger Ridley". Playing for Change. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  10. ^ Musicians, Playing For Change.
  11. ^ "Bono", Playing For Change.
  12. ^ "Keith Richards", Playing For Change.
  13. ^ "Manu Chao", Playing For Change.
  14. ^ "Toots Hibbert", Playing For Change.
  15. ^ "Stephen Marley", Playing For Change.
  16. ^ "Char", Playing For Change.
  17. ^ "Tinariwen", Playing For Change.
  18. ^ "Taj Mahal", Playing For Change.
  19. ^ "Jimmy Buffett", Playing For Change.
  20. ^ "Sara Bareilles", Playing For Change.
  21. ^ "John Densmore", Playing For Change.
  22. ^ "Bombino", Playing For Change.
  23. ^ "Bill Kreutzmann", Playing For Change.
  24. ^ "David Crosby", Playing For Change.
  25. ^ "Buddy Guy", Playing For Change.
  26. ^ "The Doobie Brothers", Playing For Change.
  27. ^ "Jack Johnson", Playing For Change.
  28. ^ "Tom Morello", Playing For Change.
  29. ^ "Nattali Rize", Playing For Change.
  30. ^ "Billy Branch", Playing For Change.
  31. ^ "James Gadson", Playing For Change.
  32. ^ "Warren Haynes", Playing For Change.
  33. ^ "Cyril Neville", Playing For Change.
  34. ^ "Rocky Dawuni", Playing For Change.
  35. ^ "Donald Kinsey", Playing For Change.
  36. ^ "Lee Oskar", Playing For Change.
  37. ^ "Dr. John", Playing For Change.
  38. ^ Doyle, Patrick (September 18, 2019), "Watch Robbie Robertson Play 'The Weight' With Ringo Starr and Musicians Across Five Continents", Rolling Stone.
  39. ^ "Bizung School of Music & Dance". Playing For Change Foundation. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  40. ^ "Joudour Sahara Music Program". Playing For Change Foundation. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  41. ^ a b c d "Playing for Change Day - September 24th, 2016".
  42. ^ "Stand By Me Scholarship Program". Playing For Change Foundation. 2013-10-11. Retrieved March 9, 2019.

External links[edit]