PFC on PBS all month long in August!

A 57 minute version of our feature length documentary film, “Playing For Change: Peace Through Music,” is going to air nationally on PBS throughout August– click here for the schedule! Over the course of this film, you will not only have the chance to see and hear new amazing performances from around the world, but you will also get to meet the musicians who make them so special.

Additional screenings are being scheduled by PBS daily, so for the most up to date listing check with your local station. We will also be updating the screening schedule linked above often– this schedule is current as of July 30th right now.

There is no better way to introduce your friends and family to Playing For Change than through this film, so please share this information with your loved ones!

PFC Band Fall Tour Dates Announced!

I am thrilled to announce that the Playing For Change Band will be taking to the road this Fall for a month of performances in the U.S. and Canada!  We’ve got 22 gigs slated between October 20th and November 19th.  For a complete listing of dates and venues, and to purchase tickets, click here (link no longer available). Through this link, you’ll also be able to access our pre-sale, available exclusively to our community members! (Tickets for some gigs are not yet on sale– please keep checking back at for updates on ticket availability.)

I know there are a lot of excited people out there that would love to see this band, but do not live in North America.  Thank you all for your amazing support of this global movement.  We are already starting to plan a follow up tour in other countries, so stay tuned– there is more to come!  In the meantime, I hope to see you at one of our gigs sometime soon!

PFC on PBS in August

An abridged version of the feature length documentary film, Playing For Change: Peace Through Music, is going to be broadcast on PBS stations across the United States in the month of August!

In the next couple days we will be posting stations and screening times so that you can find out when this film will be screening in your area. So be sure to check back soon, and tell your friends and family to tune in with you!

PFC featured on ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson

Mark Johnson and the musicians from Playing For Change were just featured as “Persons of the Week” by Charles Gibson on ABC’s World News. It is always exciting to have the opportunity to share this project with fresh eyes and ears who have not experienced it yet, and Charles Gibson did a great job of that tonight.

Living in LA, I don’t usually have the opportunity to share these moments with my family, however I am currently home on vacation, and was fortunate enough to be able to watch this broadcast with my family, which was really special.

If you missed the show tonight, or would like to share it with your friends or family, you can watch it on ABC’s website. (link no longer available)


Mark Johnson featured as keynote speaker at TED

Playing For Change and founder Mark Johnson received a rousing standing ovation from the technorati at the TED Convention in Oxford, England. The theme of the conference was œThe Substance of Things Not Seen, but the 600 attendees were moved by the very visible substance of our “Stand By Me” andWar No More Trouble videos. Among those in attendance was actress Cameron Diaz, who showed her appreciation with a hug for Mark.

Click here for a summary of Mark’s presentation.  As soon as TED posts the video feed from Mark’s speech, we will let you know!

Titi Tsira, Welcome to PFC!

I’d like to take a moment to officially welcome a new musician to the Playing For Change Movement: Titi Tsira. We first met this lovely young woman in Guguletu, South Africa, at a concert held to celebrate the opening of the Playing For Change Foundation’s Ntonga Music School in the Spring of 2009. As soon as we heard Titi’s voice, it was love at first sight– or, in this case, love at first sound.

She joined the PFC Band for an amazing performance at the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, and then traveled with the band to New Orleans to perform again with us at Tipitina’s last Saturday.

We are very excited to add her beautiful voice to the Playing For Change Band’s global chorus. Though our Summer Tour just ended, we’re planning a Fall Tour which is going to be out of this world. I hope to see you at one of our shows soon, so you can enjoy Titi and the rest of the PFC Band live on stage– it’s an experience you won’t soon forget!

Farewell For Now

It was a beautiful last day in New Orleans. Spirits were high among the band and crowd. Once the first note was played, I just knew that this show was going to be something special. And it was. The concert at Tipitina’s was the longest show to date. The band played 23 songs during their performance, lasting over 2 hours. It was truly an extraordinary night of music and celebration.

It’s amazing to think that after spending a month on the road, together with the most passionate and talented musicians imaginable, it has come to a close. Still, I thought it was going to be more difficult to say goodbye than it was. I think it’s because it isn’t goodbye forever. It’™s just a break so everyone can go back home, and share some stories with their family and friends. It’™s a time for reflection. It’™s a time for thankfulness. There is something very special happening with Playing For Change. Our family is growing every day and you feel that love permeate everywhere you go.

Grandpa Comes Home

Last night at Tipitina’s, the stage was set for greatness before the first note was struck. For starters, we were performing in a venue with a long and storied history in one of the most amazing cities in the world for live music. The amount of love New Orleansians had for Grandpa Elliott, and the band that had brought him around the world and back this past month was through the roof.

Add to that the fact that the band has gotten consistently better with each passing day. The whole time we’ve been on the road there has been a continually developing synergy among its members. The stage is an environment where you have to be able to know what the people around you are doing without words, and this can only be accomplished by trust and mutual respect for each other.

On top of all this, last night was the first show we’ve had all tour with no curfew. With our initial downbeat at 10:30PM, the band played until almost 1AM– 2 sets and a three song encore totalling 23 songs in all. When the house lights finally came up, the audience was still screaming for more!

After the show, we all stayed backstage in the green room reliving experiences from the past month, and saying our goodbyes. What started at the venue, continued on the bus to the hotel, and finally ended one last time at Cafe du Monde, over 3AM beignets and cafe au lait.

And with that we all hugged our final goodbyes, sending each musician and crew member back to their respective hotel rooms to begin packing and preparing to return to their homes. At least for now…

As I sit typing this now from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, I am both incredibly grateful, and at the same time humbled to have been a part of the PFC Band’s tour this past month. I am already looking forward to this Fall, when we’ll have the opportunity to do it all over again. Until then, stay tuned to for continual updates.

Sound Check at Tipitina’s

The PFC Band showed up at Tipitina’s Uptown about an hour ago, and we’re now about midway through sound check. After almost a month on the road, tonight is our last performance for this tour. Being on the road together, we’ve all gotten a lot closer, and it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to everyone tomorrow morning. But there’s still a lot of great music to create between now and then!

Everyone’s in great spirits for tonight’s show. We’ve got a nice long performance planned for tonight– two full sets– and we’ve even worked in a couple of new songs for the occasion. Again, if you’re not able to make it in person to Tipitina’s tonight, it is being webcast live beginning at approximately 10PM CST. Just hit up (link no longer available) and turn your speakers up loud!

Check back soon for more pictures and video from New Orleans– we’ll be putting them up on our website and Facebook page just as soon as… well, as soon as I finish shooting them. Until then…

Live Webcast of Tipitina’s Performance!

I just received word that our performance in New Orleans this Saturday, July 18 is going to be webcast live from Tipitina’s website! So, if you’re not able to make it to the show, you can check it out online at (link no longer active) beginning at approximately 10PM CST.

The band’s rehearsing at the Music Shed in New Orleans right now– literally as I’m typing this, and they sound so good! I hope you’ll tune in Saturday night– hearing these guys perform live is truly a special experience. And please pass the above link around to your friends and family!

PFC Band live on 90.7 WWOZ in New Orleans

Mark and the band just finished a great on-air interview and three song set here in New Orleans. The room was tight with all of us crammed into the studio, but no one seemed to mind, as the energy was through the roof! There was a really special moment when Grandpa discussed what it was like to come back to his home town with the PFC Band, and what it meant for him to be a part of this project.

We’ve got a couple of hours for lunch, and then we’re off to rehearse for tomorrow night’s show at Tipitina’s. Everyone is really excited about tomorrow’s performance– I hope to see you there!

Everything Tastes Like Chicken

During set break at one of our shows here in New Orleans, I was grabbing a bite with Francois. He had already eaten, and so I asked him what was good. “The fried chicken is very nice,” he replied. And so I went over to the buffet to investigate.

I was a bit confused when I looked over the food options, and did not see the fried chicken to which he was referring. Then it dawned on me– they must not have fried crawfish in Barcelona.

PFC Band, welcome to New Orleans!

The PFC Band and Crew take the Tonight Show by storm

Thank you to everyone who tuned in last week to watch the PFC Band perform on the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien– it was a truly special day for the whole PFC Family. For this performance, we were thrilled to make a couple of additions to the PFC Band. Long-time friend of PFC, Singer-Songwriter Sara Bareilles joined us on stage, as well as six members from the Zuni People’s Twin Eagle Drum Group (who drove all the way from New Mexico, as their drum was too large to be transported by plane)! As I was walking onto the studio lot, one of the security guards pulled me aside and told me that our band was the largest musical guest they’d ever had (we had 16 performers on stage!)

Following the show’s taping, members of the PFC Band and crew celebrated at Universal Studios theme park. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Clarence Bekker on a few of the rides. If you thought his voice was powerful on stage, you should have heard him screaming on those roller coasters– it’s a wonder I can still hear!

That evening, we all enjoyed sharing each other’s company over the course of an enormous group dinner– close to forty of us, all told. In addition to everyone’s good cheer from the day’s events, we learned at dinner that it was Grandpa Elliott’s birthday! Surrounded by musicians from all over the world, the singing of “Happy Birthday to Grandpa” lasted almost fifteen minutes, and was performed in accordance with South African, Dutch, American, and Zuni traditions! Be sure to check out the video of Grandpa’s Birthday song below:

Grandpa’s Birthday Song from Playing For Change on Vimeo.

It was a truly memorable day by all accounts. Keep sending in your video (or written) responses on this content or anything you would like to share about the Playing For Change Movement, upload them to your favorite streaming video site, and send the links to [email protected]. Also, make sure to Join the Movement to get updates and other exclusive content.

The band is currently in New Orleans having a great time and grateful for the tremendous love they are receiving from the Big Easy! There’s plenty more to come, so stay tuned!

I’d like to share an article I wrote for

Three years ago an inspired film crew came to my house in the Mamelodi township and filmed me performing “One Love“, “Stand By Me”, and a few of my originals.

Over the past few years, this same film crew has traveled all over the world– from the Mamelodi township, to Santa Monica, CA to Tel Aviv, to Barcelona, to Northern Ireland and back a few times filming musicians all around the world.

The result is Playing For Change, of which I’™m proud to be a part. The beautiful videos and music that they have created show the power of music and the power to effect peace through music.

Music is a universal language that we can all understand. Visit to find out about the amazing work they’™re doing in South Africa and throughout the world and to see the beauty of what they have brought to the world.

Vusi Mahlasela

PFC claims a piece of the Tonight Show’s wall at Universal

Hello PFC Family! The PFC Band just finished taping an amazing performance here at the Tonight Show. While the rest of the crew was packing up to leave, I decided to swing by the green room one last time to make sure all our gear had been collected.  On my way there, I passed by a massive mural of signatures from former Tonight Show guests. Out of the corner of my eye, I was thrilled to see a number of autographs from Playing For Change staking claim to a previously undecorated portion of the wall. Mo’ Faya!

And now, we’re off to celebrate Grandpa Elliott’s birthday. More to come…

Harmony of Humanity by the Beach

It would be an understatement to say it was a special night for the exceptionally fortunate 10,000 or so people at the Santa Monica Pier for the biggest opening night of the outdoor concert series in its 25 years. The unique mix of pure joy and emotion emanating from those packed on the pier and the thousands of others camped out on the beach below was palpable. I’™ve been attending the free Thursday night concerts over the years and have never experienced anything like it. The ban’™s performance was beyond memorable; it was magical. You had folks of all ages dancing, singing, clapping and cheering with the music showing, once again, the power of music to connect people across boundaries. All on different, yet shared walks through life: enjoying in their own way together; an eclectic harmony of humanity.

In Step Before the Set

I arrived at the pier just as Bushman, a respected reggae band from Jamaica, began their set. I immediately walked back stage, where I joined Clarence Bekker and South African legend Vusi Mahlasela in an impromptu dance session. Within minutes, Grandpa Elliott had joined in with his graceful grooves to which Vusi responded with some swift, smooth moves of his own that brought his knees just inches from the ground. Other band mates and young fans jumped in; the musical moments had already begun and the band had yet to play a single note.

Paying Respect to Roger

Just before the band began their set, Mark welcomed old and new PFC fans alike and poignantly dedicated the concert to Roger Ridley, who used to perform just a few blocks away on the 3rd Street Promenade. As I stood with Whitney, PF’s Co-founder and Foundation Executive Director, and the rest of the crew, we all took a moment to appreciate how far this people-powered movement had come. It was the right moment to celebrate Roger’™s legacy and the impact he continues to have on all us.

Singing in the Streets

After the show, nobody wanted to leave and security eventually asked us to clear out. As we exited, I spoke briefly with Jackson Browne, a long-time mentor and supporter of PFC and even filmed Norman and Grandpa catching up before they booted us. Afterwards, we stopped by the Afro Funke party at Zanzibar and talked about the band’™s recent trip to Glastonbury. Our evening ended with Clarence and I singing “When Doves Cry” A Cappella as we walked the band back to their hotel.

Sharing is Caring

Fortunately, if you weren’™t able to attend, the concert’™s audio was recorded, and Kevin filmed a few songs in HD that you’ll get to experience yourself. Keep sharing episodes and telling everyone you know to “Join the Movement”. Due to your inspired participation, we are truly bringing peace to the world through music.

Thank you for emailing your written reaction or video response to the band’s performance on The Tonight Show. We’re going to do some flip cam filming backstage and will reciprocate with footage of the band’s feelings after the show.

Upload your video, photos to YouTube, Flickr, or wherever and email the links (not the actual media files) to [email protected]

Excited to hear from you and share your feelings with the community!

If you didn’t see the performance yet, click Tonight Show . (the video for this performance has since been removed, so this is another recording of it)

Keep checking the blog for stories and experiences from a variety of voices, especially the musicians …stay tuned. Here are some of Jeremy’s photos from the show just posted on the PFC Flickr page.

it’s on to New Orleans…

One Love!


Campfire Backstage at Glastonbury

With all the excitement of the performance itself, I neglected to share one of my favorite moments from Glastonbury. This came not during the show itself, but immediately afterward. The whole band and many of our special guests sat around a campfire backstage and were entertained by impromtu a capella performances by Clarence Bekker, Grandpa Elliott, and Vusi Mahlasela.

The three of them took turns, presenting pieces ranging from spoken word prose to ballads, and everything in between. Clarence offered a beautiful tribute to Michael Jackson, who had just passed two days earlier. Grandpa sang an amazing version of “Old Man River,” and Vusi incorporated a sequence of interpretive dance into one of his songs (which is the origin of the above photograph).

By the time anyone had bothered to check a watch, it was already 3AM. Between these three’s exhibitions and the rest of us rehashing stories from our week in London, we had wiled away most of the night. And with that, we all piled back into the bus to begin the 3 hour drive back to our hotel.