Rocky Dawuni visits PFCF Bizung School

Bizung School Program Director Mohammed Alidu and Rocky Dawuni in front of the Bizung School.

Earlier this month the students and teachers at the Playing For Change Foundation’s Bizung School of Music and Dance in Tamale, Ghana received a pleasant surprise with a visit from Grammy nominated Ghanaian recording artist Rocky Dawuni. Rocky is a long time supporter and friend of the PFC movement who’s been featured in a few of our videos including the Song Around The World “War/No More Trouble.”

PFC Communications Director and Producer J. Marie Jones caught up with Rocky after his visit to learn a bit about his trip:

J. Marie: What inspired you to visit the students at the Bizung School?

Rocky: I have always wanted to visit the Playing For Change Bizung School in Tamale because I am also from the northern part of Ghana. My collaborations with Playing For Change made it something that I needed to eventually do. I had travelled to my native village of Bunbon while on my way back the opportunity came for me to meet up with Alidu Muhammed and visit the school while doing press in Tamale for my new EP “Voice of Bunbon, Vol. 1”

J. Marie: Did you perform for and/or with the students? If so, what songs?

Rocky: I got the opportunity to listen to the student showcase some of their original compositions which are based on indigenous local styles. I then collaborated in a jam session with the students which was wonderful.

J. Marie: Please describe your experience at the school?

Rocky: I was very impressed by the dedication of the students. I had the rare opportunity of having a deep conversation with them about the trials of choosing music as a life path especially in a such a musically conservative environment. I also shared with them my own personal stories and how I overcame similar situations with the sheer force of my determination, dedication and love of music. 

J. Marie: What was the highlight of your visit at the school?

Rocky: The highlight of my visit to Bizung School was when I jumped on percussion and started jamming with all of the students who were playing xylophones along with Alidu Muhammed on percussion. We created a beautiful piece together. 

J. Marie: Why is it important to share music with the younger generations?

Rocky: Music is an important tool to create generational connection. Music also allows the transference and sharing of ideas. Ultimately, music serves as a tool to inspire all of us to be better at what we do.

Rocky Dawuni and Mohammed Alidu with members of the Bizung community.

All of us here at Playing For Change and our partners at the Playing For Change Foundation want to send a big THANK YOU to Rocky and his manager Cary for making this possible. The community at the Bizung School will cherish this day for years to come! To find out how you can support music schools and programs such as the Bizung School, please visit playingforchange.org.

One love from Rocky Dawuni and Mohammed Alidu

PFC Artist Spotlight | Vasti Jackson

With decades of experience to show for it, Vasti Jackson‘s love and admiration for the blues is undeniable. Throughout his vast career, he has shown himself to be a true “Bard of the Blues,” telling stories of the genre’s roots, teaching audiences about the struggle from which the blues was born, and carrying on the soulful tradition for new generations to grab a hold of.


Vast-Eye

Born in McComb, Mississippi, Vasti Jackson was bound to be indoctrinated into the blues. First by family, and then through his surroundings, he gained invaluable experience growing up surrounded by the influence of the Delta blues. With a strong attraction to the guitar, Vasti began performing at local churches and juke joints while studying music at Jackson State University. As his artistry developed, Vasti was employed as a session musician working for various labels until he was named musical director for the television show, Blues Goin’ On. Throughout this period, he continued to perfect his craft, moving effortlessly from blues to soul to jazz to funk to gospel to pop, and more.

The early 90’s is where Vasti would find his rhythm, writing many songs from his life, releasing his debut album Vas-Tie Jackson, and partaking in recordings with other notable musicians such as B.B. King. In 2012, Vasti was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, forever leaving his mark on the Mississippi Delta Blues.

“As an artist, Vasti is known for sweat-drenched, soul-ripping performances marked by some of the most stunning and innovative guitar playing in Blues today. Vasti’s talent has been enlarged by an amazing array of musical experiences over 35 years of his vibrant career. Jackson’s Recordings “No Borders to the Blues”, “Live In Nashville” and “Mississippi Burner” present audio buffet of Vasti’s limitless energy and boundless imagination. It spotlights his talents as singer, and composer, and his utterly thrilling guitar mastery.”

VastiJackson.com

Wherever he goes, the blues seems to follow, and wherever the blues are, you’re sure to find Vasti.


Career with PFC

For more than 5 years, Vasti Jackson has been involved with the Playing For Change Movement, first through live performances with the PFC Band, and eventually joining in a few Songs Around The World as well. With his wealth of knowledge and boundless musical talent, his contributions to Playing For Change have impacted the lives of thousands of supporters, as well as students from across the world.

Image result for vasti jackson morocco

Recently, Vasti traveled to the Saharan Desert with the PFC Foundation to visit the Joudour Sahara Music Program. Meeting with local musicians from the M’Hamid el Ghizlane region of southern Morocco, Vasti and Maya Kyles, a young drummer also from Mississippi, taught lessons and performed together, working to find the connection between blues from the two continents.


Play Production

When he isn’t traveling the world, Vasti Jackson continues to educate audiences on the history of the blues and African culture in America. From January 29th through February 10th, Vasti served as musical director and a performer in the Marcus Gardley story, “Hell in High Water.” This play relives the account of the Great Flood of 1927. Set in Greenville, this story follows the social, economic, and political realities of an entire city of people who are subject to the powerful will of the Mississippi River.

Along with his fellow cast mates, Vasti recently hosted a PFC live stream while on set:

Carrying on with his stage performances, Vasti has just headed back to Germany to continue his role as Ike Turner in the musical “Simply The Best – The Tina Turner Story.”

As a musician who continuously pushes himself beyond borders, across cultures, and into the lives of new world audiences, Vasti Jackson is the embodiment of our mission to connect the world through music. We look forward to reuniting with him again soon, and encourage you to keep your eye on Vasti.

One Love,

PFC

Audio-Technica: PFC’s Exclusive Global Sponsor of all Headphones and Microphones

LOS ANGELES, CAPlaying For Change (PFC)—the global movement that was created to connect the world through music by recording, filming, and distributing musical performances—is proud to announce its new sponsor, Audio-Technica, will supply microphones and headphones to all international PFC-related events. Additionally, the Playing For Change Band and the Playing For Change Foundation will receive donations of microphones and headphones as well as technical support from Audio-Technica.

Reflecting on their future relationship, Playing For Change CEO/Co-Founder Mark Johnson offers, “We have been using Audio-Technica headphones for years and are excited to have them joining in on our ongoing mission of connecting the world through music. Much of what PFC does involves getting audio in the field—a task to which Audio-Technica microphones and headphones are well-suited. Audio-Technica also understands that music is about people, that it’s our global language and heritage, and it must be preserved and cherished. We look forward to a long-lasting relationship with Audio-Technica and together, show that great sound is everywhere.”

Playing For Change represents the ways in which music unites us around the world,” adds Audio-Technica US President/CEO Phil Cajka. “We are proud to support their endeavors and we look forward to serving as an advocate for their efforts throughout the year.” That shared mission will result in Audio-Technica’s sustained presence in all PFC ventures as the organizations work together.

In addition to PFC Day events, PFCaffiliated concerts, and the Playing For Change Band directly benefitting from the Audio-Technica sponsorship, students from around the world who participate in any of the 15 Playing For Change Foundation music programs will also receive headphones, microphones, and Audio-Technica technical support.

For more information, please visit audio-technica.com.