To be moved by music is a wondrous feeling. Whether you are moved to feel, dance, sing, or play, there is something about music that reverberates through each of us. And even in a world feeling lost and afraid in the face of global changes, music is one thing that can bring us together.
Add to that the need to keep music alive and you find a group of people doing some remarkable things around the world. Even in the midst of poverty, war, or famine, the Playing for Change Foundation aims to share more than the music of the many musicians they have met during the course of their travels. They are building music schools so that these gifted artists can pass along their skills and passion to the next generation so this precious resource is not lost.
The Playing for Change: Songs Around the World album is part of a multimedia effort to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. Using a mobile recording studio, a group of people traveled wherever the music took them. This is not a political or spiritual mission, but an artistic one with the goal of helping people see that music can unite us as a people regardless of ideology, location, or religion.
Traveling to such diverse locations as Santa Monica, California, and Barcelona, Spain; Johannesburg, South Africa, and Kathmandu, Nepal; New Orleans, Louisiana, and Jerusalem, Israel; these people, led by Mark Johnson and a crew devoted to the singular mission of spreading peace through music. They found musicians in the United States, Europe, Africa, India, Asia, and the Middle East and recorded them live using their mobile equipment.
Songs Around the World includes a CD with ten tracks, from the classic "Stand by Me" and Bob Marley standards as "One Love" and "Don't Worry" and the Hindi song "Chanda Mama". It also includes a DVD with videos of five of the songs on the CD.
Though the CD is amazing and I don't want to downplay its significance, it's the DVD that really touched me.
Several months ago I first saw the video for "Stand by Me" on the web as the project was starting to get the word out. I remember it vividly because it touched an emotional bone in my body that hasn't been touched for quite a while. Each of the artists who performed on the song added a bit of their indomitable spirits to this song, from Roger Ridley on the street in Santa Monica, CA, to Sinamuva outside in Umlazi, South Africa, to Clarence Bekker in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and everyone in-between.