Creating our Songs Around The World videos inspired us to form the Playing For Change Band — a tangible, traveling representation of our mission with a unique fusion of influences and talents, featuring musicians we’ve met along our journey and carrying their music from the streets to the stage to the hearts of people.
The Playing For Change production crew traveled the world for about five years before creating the first Song Around The World, “Stand By Me” with the legendary Roger Ridley and musicians from around the globe. From the viral success of that video, the Playing For Change Band was formed in 2008.
PFC co-founder, Mark Johnson had the idea of joining musicians together from many different countries and cultures who had never met in person before. Not only was the goal to connect these musicians through the language of music, but also to unify and learn more about the communities along the way.
“Our objective was not only to record the musician and leave, it was more about learning how they gained their identity and how the music plays a role in their society. We wanted to create something that we could do together” - Mark Johnson
Congo to the Mississippi | Playing For Change | Song Around The World feat. Grandpa Elliott
This song was co-written by Mermans Mosengo and Greg Johnson, while on tour with the PFC Band. The PFC crew started under the hot African sun in the village of Lukala in the Congo and added musicians wherever we traveled for the past few years until they finally added the final piece with Grandpa Elliott playing the harmonica solo in New Orleans.
Behind The Song: Congo to the Mississippi | Playing For Change
Behind The Song: Ahoulaguine Akaline | Playing For Change
One Concert, One Goal. The First Playing For Change Concert In Benefit Of The PFCF.
In 2005, after hearing musician Roger Ridley singing “Stand By Me” in the streets of Santa Monica, Mark decided to record and film him to make a Song Around The World and add musicians to it. With the support of producer and philanthropist Whitney Kroenke, they founded the Playing For Change movement in order to connect, inspire and change the world through music.
The first benefit concert for the foundation took place in Denver, Colorado. The concert was an example of connection between musicians and genres, having participants from Tibet, Africa and Europe.
The Playing For Change Foundation is an international non-profit organization founded in 2007 to create positive change through music and arts education. The foundation operates 17 music programs across 13 countries.
The Playing For Change Band is now touring the world and spreading the message of love and hope to audiences everywhere. To date, the Playing For Change Band has played over 400+ concerts in 25+ countries. For an unforgettable experience, be sure to see them live in a city near you.
The Beginning Of A Musical Ride
After the benefit concert, Mark and the crew realized that the band could get bigger and better. He started a tour and joined a couple of musicians which would later become legends of the PFC Movement like Grandpa Elliott, Clarence Bekker, Mermans Mosengo, among other great musicians.