Playing For Change: A Music Movement That Stirs the Soul

pfcMar. 18, 2009 ”Music is the poetry of the air.”—Jean Paul Richter

Like a smile, music knows few boundaries in its outreach. It has the profound ability to connect cultures, remove barriers, and capture emotion even when words aren’t understood, so it makes sense that youth leverage music for self-expression in so many multimedia forms, from iTunes to profile pages, band camp to file-sharing.

Playing for Change leverages the vibrant energy of music to unite, empower, uplift and inspire using the magic of the art form itself as the channel to ‘play it forward’ and bring peace to the world through music.

The Playing For Change Foundation itself helps build, equip, staff and improve new and existing music schools around the world! I absolutely LOVE this concept, and am excited to be a part of the Playing For Change: Songs Around the World Tour coming to San Francisco next week at Slim’s in a one of a kind ‘be there’ moment shared with artists worldwide. Got my tix, my tee, ordered my CD, woohoo, I’m there!

It’s a perfect example of using the power of media and marketing for positive change…You don’t have to BE in one of the cities hosting the tour to be a part of it all though…Got thirty seconds?

Check out the video (after the jump) and join in the fun of as the crew from the Ntonga Music School perform together to impart the message of peace through Tracy Chapman’s classic…“Don’t you know? We’re talking about a revolution…” Sing it guys!

pfc-logoFor generations, music has had the unique ability to unite through universal language, so it makes perfect sense that Playing for Change has created a way to improve communities in need by sharing the magic…

I remember being with colleagues at our Women Leaders for the World GWLN summit when they played the Nickelback music video, If Everyone Cared, and you could literally feel the outreach and warmth of a ‘one world’ vision coming together as we looked around the room at the very personal faces of all the nations represented coming together…

This is that ‘global hope’ we’re all going for…

Music has the ability to erase and melt boundaries if not build bridges over the political swamps and backwater that keeps so many organizations held back in the self-righteous sludge…It’s sooooo contagious to feel the energy, the beat, the rhythm of music as a force for change…

sweet-reliefIn the spirit of LiveAid, Live8, LiveEarth, and other concert/cause mobilization through music it’s a slam dunk ‘given’ for evoking powerful engagement and action-based response in nanoseconds…


The Sweet Relief Musicians Fund to benefit struggling or ill musicians used a real time cellphone “call to action” (nothing quite like thinking a $.99 SMS phone donation could rally thousands of dollars, live!)…$1 X audience=six figures+? wow. Kinda makes frisbee throwing and match-lighting seem superfluous by comparison!) Here are several other examples of using SMS texting for charities at, and here’s more about Sweet Relief Musicians fund.

What is Playing for Change in their own words?

“PLAYING FOR CHANGE is a musical exploration that glides across four continents, revealing a relentless insight of humanity that strives for global unification.

It is a story of hope, struggle, perseverance, joy, and celebration. It is a story of human ambition to overcome prejudices, separation, natural hardships, and evil existing in our world today.


I can’t wait to see more than the trailer of the film Playing for Change: Peace Through Music, since it’s the second documentary of Mark Johnson and Jonathan Walls, in conjunction with (Red)Wire which positions itself as “an online music magazine that saves lives” in the spirit of the (Red) campaign to eliminate AIDS in Africa.

Ahem. Might want to have a word with the POPE’s latest media messaging on THAT.  sigh. (Article on THAT and how it relates to youth plus the coming up)

Co-Director/Producer Mark Johnson explains how the whole concept came to pass on the PFC blog, including how the film features over 100 musicians with live performances of music ranging from native Indian reservations to South African Townships to performances in the Himalayan Mountains.

Filmmaker Mark Johnson said,

pfc-film“Music has always been an integral part of the identity and expression of various cultures on this planet.  However, music’s greatest power is its ability to transcend cultural boundaries and connect us as a Human Race…

…The first event that triggered the idea of “Playing For Change – Peace Through Music” occurred 10 years ago in a New York City subway station.

…I was headed to work one morning, and while in the subway I witnessed a musical performance of two monks painted all in white from head to toe. They were wearing brown robes and one of them was singing in a foreign language while the other man played a nylon guitar.

…I remember seeing about 200 people of different cultures, races and genders, stop and listen to the music. Everyone there was so moved by the performance even though I can’t imagine many of us knew what they were singing about.  It occurred to me that in this moment in time was a strong sense of human connection and the ability to overcome our differences as people.

…I decided right then and there that music is the key to a better world. I also realized it was my calling to go out and find as many of these inspiring human moments as possible.”

And THAT they did, indeed… focusing on connections over differences, commonalities over chaos, and tragedy and devastation used for unity and common ground.

Many may have already seen the ‘Song around the World’ 5 minute clip of Stand By Me, but the film and multi-music projects (One World, Don’t Worry, and more) will keep you bopping with a dose of ‘one world’ positivity for a good long time!

On the blog he mentions natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and societal disasters like Apartheid in the same breath summing,

“Perhaps nothing can do more to connect a planet so divided by war, economics, religion, and race than MUSIC!! As Bob Marley said, “One great thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.”

My daughter caught hold of the “One World” flavor in the Caribbean and plastered her door with stickers of same. I can’t wait to surprise her with the CD/DVD I just bought to support Playing for Change, because it’s a school night so she can’t go to the event with me…(sorry, kiddo, starts at 9pm!)

pfc-siteSo, what kind of action can YOU bring to this show? Share the Playing for Change site, vision, mission and music.

Kids can check out the CD at Hear Music launching next month and engage with the community online to find others who are positively impacting others who are making a difference through music.

The ‘world tour’ slate is on the PFC home page, but if you don’t live in one of these cities- but know someone who does- please forward this info on to them, plop the link on your Facebook Friend Feed, or ‘Tweet’ ‘til your heart’s content.

Meanwhile, if you’re in the Bay Area, don’t miss Grandpa Elliott, Clarence Bekker, Tula, Louis Mhlanga, Mohammed Alidu, Reggie McBride, Peter Bunetta, and Mermans Kenkosenki and Jason Tamba of Afro Fiesta all performing together for the first time! See you Tuesday…

Here’s More About PFCF’s impact on:

The Ntonga Music School in Guguletu, South Africa

The Tibetan Refugee Centers in Dharamsala, India and Kathmandu, Nepal

The Mehlo Arts Center in Johannesburg, South Africa and neighboring township of Soweto

Playing for Change Foundation (PFCF) Helps:

•    Build and connect music schools around the world.
•    Empower students to create/share their music (student performances will be recorded, filmed and shared with members).
•    Enable collaboration between students of our new schools and students from established schools in the U.S. and abroad.
•    See and hear exclusive content from the global music film we have been building since 2001 only available to movement members.
•    Enjoy live performances by numerous established musicians who are contributing to this music movement (Manu Chao, Keb Mo, Vusi Mahlasela…).

Here’s an inspiring 6:00 clip from PFCF Music Revolution!



  1. This video is so great! I am all for change I think it should be more music artist mainstream should be doing this to do things for the better I’m joining there street team to pitch in and get the word out!

  2. Fred Dune says

    That’s awesome “Lyrics”! I recently joined the Online Street Team as well to help do my part with this inspiring and influential movement.

  3. Hey you two, I’d love to hear more…let me know how they’ve set it up and I can do a post about it?

    I noticed the CD made it onto the ABC Family season finale of the ‘Secret Life’ using the Stand By Me song, (the song was the best part of the whole show) so I would love to find out how they cut the product placement deal with the tie-in too…I know the show is scrambling for some credibility in doing good, since the casual sex dramas throughout the show have come under fire, so I’d love to find out more if you can put me in touch with the powers that be on your team.

    p.s. Did you go to the big event tonight in S.F.? Is the street team you’re in regional? Are they recruiting national? Global? Keep me posted, ok? Thanks, Fred and Lyrics.

    Amy Jussel’s last blog post..Influencers, Accountability and the Global Cost to Youth

  4. send flowers peru says

    Fantastic read, it’s right on the mark.

  5. Pandithurai says

    Very cool lyrics, I love fold and street music.

  6. Sonic Producer says

    Too right. Music crosses many bridges and barriers and brings people together. It’s one thing we all have in common.

  7. Brilliant. This was a very touching article. I think this is great idea and I wish you the best of luck 🙂

  8. Michael Newton says

    It’s a great article you have here and trust me your article has helped me a lot that i have to come back to leave a comment today. , thanks for taking your time to put this out. i wish you the best

  9. Wow! I hadn’t heard about this foundation. I’m going to have to check this out. I love its lofty goals. Thanks for turning me on to this!

  10. Dipika Ray says

    This video and article is so great! cool lyrics. I loved it. It will help me a lot. Great job, please keep up…

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