Playing For Change

by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

“A Better Place” is the latest song/video featured by Playing For Change, and every year, as the winter holidays arrive with their messages of peace on earth and goodwill to all, it’s what many people hope our world will become as a new year approaches.  If there is one universality that seems to speak to and can be understood by everyone, it’s music, and Playing For Change, a multimedia project began in 2005, uses that belief to try to connect the world and foster peace.

The project began when, using a mobile recording studio, the Playing For Change crew began traveling around the globe, with the first of the songs they featured recorded in Santa Monica, CA, USA; Barcelona, Spain; and Africa.  The goal was to record the music on both audio and video so that it could be shared with other parts of the world.  The equipment that they used to reach that goal started out humbly enough and has evolved over the years, but their core mission has stayed consistent:"to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music."  Often, the artists that they’ve featured have been doing exactly what the name of the organization states: playing for change, only in this case, literal (monetary) change.  So to help lend further support to these musicians and the communities they live in, a nonprofit corporation, The Playing For Change Foundation, was set up in 2007.  Then, in 2008, Timeless Media, a for-profit entity was created, to help fund and extend the work that Playing For Change was already doing.

The first time that I happened upon Playing For Change, it was by watching their third “episode” video for one of Bob Marley’s best known (and a personal favorite) song, “One Love”.  The video interweaves clips from vocalists and musicians in Italy, Africa, France, Nepal, Israel, the United States, and India, all performing Marley’s classic in their own unique way.  Better yet, the clips were recorded so that I had a view into each artists’ homeland, whether they were on a rooftop surrounded by local architecture or standing outdoors.  With a love of travel and a curiosity about other cultures and places, I was hooked.  If the premise of the project hadn’t been enough to pull me in (and truly, it had been), or the music itself wasn’t the deal breaker, that was.

Besides locales that I'd never seen before, there were musical instruments that were, truly, foreign to me.  In some ways, I was like a child discovering exciting new sights and sounds, and all of it was speaking to me in a very real and tangible way.

Each episode shows moments that are universal to all of us too, no matter what country or continent we live in.  A parent dancing with a young child in their arms, a look of pure joy as someone is lost in the magic of singing out loud...all of us can find something to relate to, no matter how fleeting, and find a connection that transcends culture or nationality.  And so I've looked forward to new episodes of Playing For Change videos each time they come out.

Since its humble beginnings, Playing For Change has expanded in many ways, extending their reach and including more artists.  Musicians have come together to perform at benefit concerts, building art and music schools in communities where facilities like this are scarce or even unheard of.  A Playing For Change band has been formed too, with musicians from no less than five countries as a part of it.  No wonder then that shows are also being held around the world.  “When audiences see and hear musicians who have traveled thousands of miles from their homes, united in purpose and chorus on one stage, everyone is touched by music's unifying power”, the Playing For Change website explains.

The Ntonga Music School in Gugulethu, South Africa
And in a time where being bombarded by news of violence worldwide can make us question what things are coming to on this planet that we’re living on, and what kind of life will be left to offer up to future generations, the pure joy that often emanates from the Playing For Change videos is a welcome, well...change.  A new year is just around the corner.  If all of us would join in and play for change in whatever way that we can, then maybe peace through music is possible.

To see more episodes of Playing For Change videos and to learn more about the foundation, visit www.PlayingForChange.com.

1 comment:

  1. I too got pulled in by Roger Ridley and Grandpa Elliot back in 05. I have become an avid follower, promoter, and supporter of the movement. Every new project renews my sense of hope.