From Lean on Me to Lovely Day: A Tribute to the Artists Embracing Bill Withers' Legacy

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Born in Slab Fork, West Virginia, in 1938, Bill Withers began his music career by releasing his debut album, Just as I Am, in 1971 at the age of 32. His talent and unique style quickly garnered attention, which blended elements of soul, R&B, folk, and blues, resulting in a distinct sound that resonated with audiences around the world.

We are happy to share our own tribute to Bill Withers through our Songs Around The World as well as our Live Outside series! Keep scrolling to discover some music covers that you may not have heard before, in tribute to Bill Withers.

A universal message for love, the connecting bond of “Just the Two of Us.”

Resilience, friendship, and love—his lyrics showcased a keen sense of storytelling and emotional depth. When "Just the Two of Us" was released, it reached #2 on the US Pop Chart in the spring of 1981.

Bill Withers - Just The Two Of Us

"Just the Two of Us" is known for its memorable chorus and catchy melody. The song's lyrics express a deep connection and commitment between two people, emphasizing the idea of finding solace and happiness in each other's company.

Overall, this classic remains a beloved and timeless song, resonating among audiences for its message of love and togetherness.

Will Smith - Just The Two Of Us

The song's popularity was further boosted in 1998, when rapper Will Smith released a cover version that sampled the original song's instrumental track and incorporated his own rap verses, introducing the song to a new generation of listeners.

Check out these unique versions of "Just the Two of Us," by some of our featured PFC musicians in tribute to Bill Withers!

Just The Two Of Us on Guitar - Marcin and Ichika Nito

Did you know? The Playing For Change Band had the honor of playing at Billboard Live Tokyo with Ichika Nito! 

Check out the Japan Tour Episode 1

Rhiannon Giddens - "Just The Two Of Us" (feat. Sxip Shirey)

Rhiannon Giddens' take on “Just the Two of Us,” features photos and videos taken by friends and family in the COVID-19 quarantine.

PFC Members also get to watch this member-exclusive banjo documentary, featuring Rhiannon Giddens.

Watch now

Other covers from independent artists that we loved:

“Just the Two of Us” - J. Naji
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artis...

Something About The Two Of Us - Bill Withers/Daft Punk Mashup (Live on a Dock)
Linktree: https://linktr.ee/chaseeagleso...

And when you need a hand, you can always “Lean On Me.”

In an interview with American Songwriter in 2006, Bill Withers talks about the meaning behind another one of his most famous songs: "Romantic love makes you only want to touch people because they’re pretty and they appeal to you physically. The more substantial kind of love is when you want to touch people and care for them when they’re at their worst," he says.

Friendship, compassion, and being there for one another during difficult times—that is the meaning of true love, and it applies to everyone everywhere.

Lean On Me (Bill Withers) | Playing For Change | Song Around The World
Follow PFC:https://linktr.ee/playingforch...

We're proud to present this version of our Song Around The World cover "Lean On Me."


We've also released this version of "Lean On Me" in 2023, featuring Kori Withers and Friends. A Live Outside at Mark’s Park. Kori channels her father’s spirit, evoking the song’s timeless message of unity, compassion and the power of human connection.

Also, check out this version of another one of our featured bands from Atlanta, Larkin Poe!

Bill Withers "Lean On Me" (Larkin Poe Cover)
Website: https://www.larkinpoe.com/

Grandma's Hands: A Melody of Love and Memories

Released in 1971, this song pays tribute to Bill Withers’ grandmother and the significant role she played in his life. With lyrics that evoke a sense of nostalgia and appreciation, "Grandma's Hands" has become one of Bill Withers' signature songs and has been covered by various artists over the years.

“Used to hand me piece of candy
Grandma's hands
Picked me up each time I fell
Grandma's hands
Boy, they really came in handy…”

Ignite your soul with this heartfelt Live Outside performance at Mark’s Park by Kori Withers and Friends, in a tribute to her father, performing a rendition of his beloved classic, "Grandma's Hands."

“Grandma’s Hands” is an ode to Bill Withers’ grandmother, Lula Carter Galloway. This story of gratitude and shared memories is now told in a beautifully illustrated children’s book, painted by multiple award-winning artist R. Gregory Christie and published by Joel Harper’s Freedom Three Publishing in collaboration with the Withers Family’s Mattie Music Group.

Pre-order “Grandma’s Hand’s” a children's book by Bill Withers and R. Gregory Christie now, available in the Playing For Change Shop.

Order here

Available from August 01, 2023

"Bill Withers' song “Grandma's Hands” is a poignant tribute to the nurturing presence of his grandmother during his childhood. We wanted to create a visual story that could share that same message with children today." —Joel Harper, Founder of Freedom Three Publishing

Watch this member's exclusive performance by Keb'Mo', "The Worst is Yet to Come" along with a tribute to Bill Withers!

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Other covers that you’ll love:

“Ain't No Sunshine” Bill Withers - Roger Ridley (cover)
More from Roger Ridley:https://www.playingforchange.c...

“Lovely Day” - Tribute to Bill Withers by "Paris Select Band"
More from this artist: https://www.youtube.com/@paris...

“Ain't No Sunshine” - Clarence Bekker (cover)
More videos from Clarence Bekker: https://www.playingforchange.c...

“Grandma's Hands” | The Legendary Ingramettes Richmond Folk Festival 2018
More from this artist: https://legendaryingramettes.c...

Mo' At Home - Grandma's Hands
More from Keb'Mo: https://www.playingforchange.c...

Ain't No Sunshine (Bill Withers) - Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar Cover - Justin Johnson
More from this artist: https://www.youtube.com/@justi...

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