Celebrating what unites us

Have you heard Playing For Change? It is a fantastic project that has been established to raise people’s social awareness and bring them closer through the art of music,...

Have you heard Playing For Change? It is a fantastic project that has been established to raise people’s social awareness and bring them closer through the art of music, no matter where they are in the world or what their differences might be. Francois Viguie, member of  Playing For Change and project manager of Playing For Change Foundation has said :

“ People cry with and laugh with the same things. It doesn’t matter who they are, what their background is or what language they speak”

He adds that the people involved in this project travel all over the world filming musicians; and a special group of them is street musicians, who play variations of classic hits. Doing so, they hope to bring out a sense of unity and peace among people and emphasize its significance.

This exciting project began some years ago when Mark Johnson, a Grammy Award winning producer, Engineer, Award winning film director and co founder of Playing For Change was on his way to work in New York and saw two monks playing music in a subway station. So many people had stopped to listen to this enticing music when suddenly it occurred to him to start recording street musicians in their “natural habitat”. He even thought of having celebrities playing their music outdoors in a variety of spots.

Several years later he made his first recording, using the world famous “Stand by me ” ; the first  of many other songs that were to come. Johnson is  assisted by a  team of 23 people all of whom have one vision : that the things uniting people are far more important than the things that  separate them.

So how does this innovative project work? Johnson and his team travel from New Orleans to Brazil, from the Himalayas to South Africa, recording musicians they meet.They create the product by combining recordings from different parts of the world. The final outcome is a classic – hit mix which is one – of – a – kind.

Their efforts drew the attention and the admiration of  people  from all around the world. So far more than 500 musicians in more than 40 countries have participated in the project, including Keith Richards, and Bono. They also have over half a million Facebook followers and have formed a band called Playing For Change .

Following their initial success, they created the non – profit organization Playing For Change Foundation, in 2007, whose goal is to bring about change through  art and education.They have set up nine music schools and several programs in many countries, including Ghana, Mali, Rwanda and Thailand.

The schools are usually attended by around 800 students  from poor backgrounds; free dance, music and language courses are offered.

Children who take part in the programs also learn how to work with others and how to persevere in conditions of hardship through activities that bring them hope and joy. The projects also provide  job opportunities for local artists and administrative staff.

Furthermore, they have initiated projects related to the supply of solar energy, food and computers to deprived people. This venture, all in all, has been very successful, not only because it is open to everyone but also because it is increasingly attracting more and more people.

Anastasia Georgouli

Anastasia has a Bachelor's degree in communication from Deree College in Athens, Greece and at present she works as a freelance writer. The topics that she is really interested in are the ones that bring a positive change to problems, including environmental, social, educational or humanitarian issues. In addition, she loves traveling, music, dance and cooking.
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