One Year, Hundreds of Musicians, Thousands of Miles, and Millions of Hearts Reached | The Best of 2023 | Playing For Change

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This year was so much more than making music; it was a discovery of different cultures and life lessons. From our filming crew in Angola to the PFC Band traveling across Japan, we gained and learned so much that we wanted to share these stories with you!

Your Favorites Songs Around The World

This year, the song that captivated our followers’ hearts was without any doubt our Song Around The World, “Doctor My Eyes” featuring Jackson Browne and fellow members of “The Section"—Leland Sklar and Russ Kunkel—as well as Zakir Hussain, Giovanni Hidalgo, Char, and 11 amazing musicians from around the globe.

Read: Unveiling the Vision: Behind Jackson Browne's “Doctor My Eyes”' – A New Song Around the World

We wanted to give a fresh and new perspective to this classic suggested by many of our followers, and when we had the opportunity to collaborate with the great Jackson Browne, we couldn’t wait to record this song!

“Tantas Tierras Por Conocer, Tantos Mares Por Cruzar” | “So Many Lands To Visit, So Many Seas To Cross”

“Tantas Tierras” was also another one of your favorites. Featuring our longtime friend and companion, Manu Chao.

Recommended: Inside “Tantas Tierras” by Manu Chao | Behind the Song Around The World.

This song introspectively speaks about the challenges we face in our world. With the uncertainty of our days, where the happenings of tomorrow are unknown, there is an urgency to come together as one human race to create a better planet and a better future for all living beings.

Join our co-founder and producer, Mark Johnson, at Playing For Change Studios as he takes you on a behind-the-scenes journey!

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“This song started a few years ago with Manu, his little guitar, and his vocals, and then we started to add new musicians around the world. We started in Barcelona with Manu and his guitar, and then we opened the song with these amazing Mariachis in Guadalajara, Mexico."
Mark Johnson on Deconstructed: “Tantas Tierras.”

Read this member-exclusive insight of “Tantas Tierras”.

The Beginnings Of A Life-Changing Adventure To Reconnect With The Musical Roots Of Africa: The Journey To Angola

While we released “Tantas Tierras," Mark Johnson, our dear friend and supporter Manu Chao, and our film crew started a new journey to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, with the objective of recording a few songs. This journey would soon become a deeper look into the lives of the people. It started with a few songs, and then their journey began to portray the lives of the people, their activities, new hidden talents inside the community, and their connection to the people; all of this as they faced numerous challenges.

You can watch this four day trip series in our Producer’s Journey on our website.

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Because we were together, 2023 was so much better!

After releasing “Tantas Tierras," we wanted to keep up the spirits by celebrating the power of unity. “Better Together” was released on June 9th this year, featuring Jack Johnson, Paula Fuga, Lee Oskar, and many more talented musicians from around the globe.

We had the wonderful opportunity a few years ago to collaborate with a talented choir of young Hawaiian musicians, and this is one of our latest collaborations. “Better Together” is a single release from Jack Johnson's third studio album, In Between Dreams, inspired by his love for his wife. The universal message of the song inspired us to share it across the world and understand that, when we lead with love, we get all the right answers.

Check out more wonderful collaborations with talented Hawaiian artists in our special blog: The Spirit of “Mele”.

Keeping Our Mission Alive: Changing The World Through Music

Partnering with COP28, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, we managed to send a message to the world’s youth. This remarkable musical endeavor aims to champion the causes of climate change and humanity, foster a sense of global unity, and encourage action for a better future.

With the collaboration of more than 80 musicians and dancers from 18 countries, we hope this message will inspire future generations to take a look around the world outside the screen and take action to start changing the world. Together, we can start moving consciousness for the sake of our planet, for the sake of humanity, and for the representation that the earth so desperately needs. We can be the voice of the greatest traits of humanity in creating a sustainable future; let’s remember that change starts with us.

Read the making of this Song Around The World now, and get to know the musicians making a change.

We want to take a moment to thank the wonderful work of The World Painting Project for sending us their special submission from Dubai.

The World Painting is an international social art project that can be contemplated by immersing oneself in a mosaic of fragments created by representatives of different countries, each bringing to the canvas a drawing, symbol, or stroke about themselves and their homeland.


Watch all our Songs Around The World here:

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Your Top Live Outsides

I Shall Be Released | Clarence Bekker & Roberto Luti

This year, we were happy to reconnect with our dear friend and member of the PFC Band, Clarence Milton Bekker. As an example of discipline and motivation going forward through life’s difficulties, Clarence persevered through all the challenges in his life with a kind smile and a powerful voice that says, “Here I am, and nothing can bring me down.”

In the words of William Aura: “Clarence is not just a performer; he's a healer, channeling life into cathartic, joyous performances.”

Read: The Power Of Live Music | Clarence Bekker Band’s Electrifying Performance at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2023

And of course, this performance would not be the same without our longtime friend and talented guitarist, Roberto Luti. Our relationship with Roberto goes back all the way to 2002, and we’re happy to say that after more than 20 years, we are still excited to see his solo in our production, as if it were the first time.

Sweet Child O’ Mine | Tula Ben Ari

Soothing vocal stylings, delicate guitar strumming, and an intimate arrangement, Tula’s singing style and soft tones have left us captivated since the day we met in 2006. Since that day, Tula has inspired us to create new music and turn around our connections with new generations, creating links to share the culture of Israel and spread the message of peace all around the world.

We also want to give a huge thank you to our PFC Band women of change, Titi Tsira, Keiko Komaki, and Claire Finley; without them, our music would never be the same.

Enjoy their inspiring stories of overcoming adversity and breaking down barriers as they come together in honor of music and sisterhood, sharing their talents, and uplifting each other in a powerful display of unity.

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door | PFC Band Tribute to Robbie Robertson

This year also brought us sad news: the loss of our dear friend and rock legend, Robbie Robertson. He inspired us to create so much more music since we had the honor of recording with him our Song Around The World “The Weight," in 2019.

He gave us the lesson of what making music means in our Behind The Song, a fresh perspective, the view from different angles, and the true essence of his music.

Watch Behind The Song with Robbie Robertson.

His teaching will be immortalized in his lifetime work; his music, his words, and his memory will always remain in our hearts and the hearts of others who were captivated by him.

Watch our full Live Outside series here

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We miss you Robbie, your legacy will remain forever the heart of Playing For Change.

Three Years Of Mark’s Park, Reconnecting Musicians For The Benefit Of The Youth

We released our first episode of the Mark’s Park series in 2021, with the objective of bringing together a diverse group of people who call Venice Beach their home, in an effort to not only foster community but also help support the homeless youth and create positive change through music and arts education.

Today we are celebrating four years since we released this series, and we’re happy to highlight the singularities that made this year’s episodes so unique.

Read: The Best Of Mark’s Park | Uniting a Community From Venice Beach

Kori Withers Reconnecting With Her Father Through His Musical Legacy

Nostalgia, energy, love songs, and the impact of Bill Withers’ music captivated our souls as his daughter, Kori Withers, performed several of her father’s timeless classics, embodying the deep connection she shares with these beloved songs.

We were so happy to have this amazing opportunity as well as being able to collaborate and assist the music programs of our partners at the Playing For Change Foundation, which changes thousands of lives around the world by giving free education to the children in their music schools.

(Learn how you can help)

A portion of the proceeds from Mark's Park will benefit the Playing For Change Foundation—an international nonprofit organization operating 23 music programs in 17 countries, established to create positive change through music and arts education.

From the Heart of Malawi to California and Beyond

Keturah is a 27-year-old virtuoso arriving on the world stage with her self-titled debut—a 10-track odyssey chronicling Keturah’s journey from the tiny, remote home village of Monza to the shores of Venice, California.

Her talent soon led her to form a connection with her community that had long been elusive since, as a child, she mostly kept her talents to herself. Slowly but securely and stronger than ever, she went for a larger audience in Blantyre, Malawi’s second-largest city, where a producer soon noticed her talented voice, leading her to bigger places and inspiring people with her perseverance above all difficulties.

Read her full journey here.

A portion of the proceeds from Mark's Park benefited the Jacaranda Foundation.

The Jacaranda School provides a holistic approach to educating children. In addition to free preschool, primary school, and secondary school education, students receive daily nutrition programs, AIDS awareness activities, medical care, music, arts, sports, and environment enrichment programs, and university scholarships for selected high school graduates. Some of our graduates also join the Jacaranda Vocational School to learn technical skills

Donate here

Watch the full Mark’s Park series here:

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The World's Untold Tales, Narrated Through Music

Every song has its own tale; every person is an open book. We write our own life story but, most of the time we can’t find the time or even the right words to describe what we feel. Then, we put on our headphones and listen to our favorite song, and we feel, think, and connect with the lyrics.

Music is a unique way of storytelling that gives rhythm, tone, melody, and intention to these stories; even feeling the vibrations and resonance of the sounds is a language for our soul, which gives us an emotion and the chance to connect with others through this language.

Celebrating the Power of Your Voice

Our voice has always been the first way to communicate with others. Not only humans but also animals use their voices to create sounds, communicate, alert others, or express their wishes. After all, almost everything can create a sound, but only we can create music consciously, with structure and purpose.

This year, we celebrated World Voice Day for the first time! We were honored to have had the opportunity to listen to so many different voices along our journey, from inspiring rhythmic poems in our documentaries to countless new talents featured in our Songs Around The World.

This is our recognition of just a few of the powerful voices across the world. Click on the link below and discover some of the best vocal performances (sent by you) of this quarter 2023!

Read: Celebrating World Voice Day | PFC Best Vocalist Submissions of 2023 (Featuring: You!)


Honorable Mentions:

We received these submissions a little while after creating our blog, so we wanted to give these artists a big shoutout and congratulate them for their outstanding work!

While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Cover) - By Les July

Pinjra Tod Ke / A Million Dreams (Reprise) - Nishita Charles with Aanya Charles

Rahala - Mohamed Tawfik ft. Noha beshary

Xander & The Peace Pirates - 'Brothers In Arms' (Dire Straits cover) | UNDER THE APPLE TREE

Tzuf Family Band - Ani Ldodi vDodi Li

Seeds of Change: Adapting to an Uncertain Future

After the release of “Waiting On The World To Change,'' we felt the need to let you know more about the actions and real consequences of climate change. PFC producer William Aura provided us with a deeper story from the heart of Thailand, where the record-breaking heat, scarce rain, and shifting weather patterns are just a few of the challenges that the people face.

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In the face of adversity, Mai Wilachai, a seasoned rice farmer and major Playing For Change fan, stands as a symbol of strength and resilience in her village. Click here to read the full article, and learn more about Mai’s story.

Making Friends, Discovering Cultures, and Uniting a Community: The Producer's Journey.

The Producer’s Journey is a new series that we released this year, featuring our co-founder and producer Mark Johnson along with the PFC film crew on their journey to Angola, Brazil, and Japan.

The first stop on this journey was a four-part series with the Playing For Change crew, Manu Chao and Mermans Mosengo, as they embarked on a life-changing adventure to explore and reconnect with the musical roots of Africa that have shaped the rhythmic sounds around the world.

Next, the crew celebrated the roots of African music, from the samba beats of Rio de Janeiro to the Afro-Brazilian rhythms of Salvador, as they explored the diverse musical traditions that have shaped Brazil's rich culture.

After completing the recording, the crew and the PFC Band had one more destination in mind. The band was ready to perform at Billboard Live Japan 2023 after being apart since 2020 due to the pandemic, making appearances in three different cities across the country.

Watch the full series:

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Our mission is only possible because of you!

We want to take a moment to thank all of you for following us on our social media, liking our posts and videos, sharing our content, reading our blogs, commenting, sharing your submissions with us and especially supporting our work by joining us as members.

We know that these last years have been especially challenging for all of us. The world is rapidly changing, and sometimes we can feel like nothing is right. However, we hope that the music we create reaches your spirit and helps you overcome the challenges of life.

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Your spirit, determination, words of encouragement, love, and support inspire us to create all these Songs Around the World, Live Outsides, Mark’s Park, and each one of our videos, and to keep on improving and spreading our mission to create peace through music, education, and compassion all around the world.

THANK YOU for supporting us from all of the Playing For Change team!

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