As we celebrate Black History Month, we’d like to honor the many contributions people of African descent have made to music and our world. Playing For Change has covered many classic songs written and/or performed by some of the leading black artists throughout the generations, here’s a few:
“Stand By Me”
Written and originally performed by Ben E. King
“A Change is Gonna Come”
Written and originally performed by Sam Cooke
“I’d Rather Go Blind”
Written by Ellington Jordan, Billy Foster and Etta James. Originally performed buy Etta James
Written and originally performed by Buddy Guy
Written and originally performed by Son House
“Talkin’ Bout a Revolution”
Written and originally performed by Tracy Chapman
Written by Sylvester Stewart aka Sly Stone and originally performed by Sly & The Family Stone
Written and originally performed by Kool & The Gang
Written by Jerry Ragovoy, Miriam Makeba and Edgardo Franco. Originally performed by Miriam Makeba. ***This version is a medley and also includes the songs “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by George Weiss/Solomon Linda and “Sebaka Nyana” by Malaika***
“Lean on Me”
Written and originally performed by Bill Withers
“Don’t Worry Be Happy”
Written and originally performed by Bobby McGerrin
“What’s Going On”
Written by Renaldo Benson, Al Cleveland and Marvin Gaye. Originally performed by Marvin Gaye.
In honor of the United Nations’ 75th Anniversary and GivingTuesday, Playing For Change and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) are thrilled to announce Peace Through Music: A Global Event for Social Justice, produced by Playing For Change and Blackbird Presents, exclusively on Facebook Live for 48 hours. The event will then be streamed on demand on the Playing For Change YouTube channel in honor of Human Rights Day on December 10th and will be available until December 31st.
The global virtual event will inspire people to act for peace, justice and equity, everywhere and for everyone. It will feature performances from some of the world’s most iconic artists, including: Aloe Blacc, Angélique Kidjo, Annie Lennox, Becky G, Brandi Carlile with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Carlos Santana and Cindy Blackman Santana, Gabi Melim, Gary Clark Jr., Jack Johnson, Jim James, Keb’ Mo’, Keith Richards, Mavis Staples, Nathaniel Rateliff, Peter Gabriel, Rhiannon Giddens, Ringo Starr, Robbie Robertson, Robert Randolph, Run The Jewels with Josh Homme, Sheila E., Skip Marley and Cedella Marley, The War and Treaty, Yo-Yo Ma and many more. Special appearances include Billie Eilish, Ellie Goulding, Killer Mike, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird, Norman Lear, Prince Ea and Sara Bareilles.
Through the universal language of music and the art of storytelling, the event will call for equality, human rights, and an end to discrimination, spotlighting people of African descent and championing the full protection and promotion of human rights for all. It will embody the unity and common purpose that beat in the heart of humanity.
“We are stronger together than we are apart, and it is an honor to partner with like-minded artists and charities that echo this sentiment. The power of music is one tool we can use to unite and eradicate racism, inequality, poverty, and all other diseases that have plagued our world for much too long. The things in life that divide us, disappear when the music plays, and that’s something we hope you see and feel during this event,” says Mark Johnson, Playing For Change Co-Founder.
“Music is a wonderful medium to raise awareness about our collective quest for peace, justice, equality and dignity – the noble ideals of the United Nations. It is a powerful, unifying language that can help build bridges and advance social justice in all of its forms,” says Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund.
“We need to rediscover and reassert the language of our unity, of our common fears and common hopes, forged through the crucible of the pandemic. And what better example is there of a common language beyond our differences, notwithstanding our divisions, than music? We are delighted to be a part of this exciting event, advocating for social justice, and in honor of UN75,” says Fabrizio Hochschild, Special Adviser on the Preparations for the Commemoration of the United Nations’ 75th Anniversary.
“We are honored to work with artists and organizations that share in the values of peace, justice, and equality for all humans. This event is a reflection of these values at a time when they are sorely needed in this world,” says Keith Wortman, Founder, and CEO of Blackbird Presents.
“We’re proud to collaborate with Playing for Change and UNFPA on this exciting event,” said Scott Forester, Division Vice President, Business Director, Corning® Gorilla® Glass. “Over the last two years, the Gorilla Glass business’ relationship with Playing For Change has showcased the importance of music as a universal language and helps unite us as a global community. In today’s digital life, music is shared, and even created through our mobile devices – which is why we at Corning are excited that Gorilla Glass technology can play a small but important role in helping to protect our devices and ensuring that we stay connected to one another.”
“For over 100 years we have been inspiring, supporting and engaging with musicians across all generations, genres and nations, but it feels like the world needs music now more than ever to bring us together,” says James “JC” Curleigh, Presidentand CEO of Gibson. “The opportunity for us to partner with Playing For Change will create a compelling music movement around the world.”
Abdiel Pérez, Abiodun Oyewole (The Last Poets), Afro Fiesta, Ahmed Al Harmi, Al Harban Brothers, Alceu Maia, Alcione, Alfred Howard (US), Ali Boulala, Aloe Blacc, Amin Dominguez, Amina J. Mohammed (UN), Ana Carolina Pitti, André Siqueira, Andreus Valdés Torres, Angélique Kidjo, Annie Lennox, Armando Chiari, Azueï, Barou Sall, Becky G, Béla Fleck, Bernardo Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead), Bill Summers, Billie Eilish, Binho, Bizung Family Band, Brandi Carlile with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Candombe Drum Group, Carl C-Wyya Edwards, Carlinhos 7 Cordas, Carlos Amaya, Carlos Santana and Cindy Blackman Santana, Cesar Pope, Chandrajit, Chango Spasiuk, Char, Cheikh Gueye, Chouloute Minouche, Cizinho Jorge, Clarence Bekker, Congo Drums, Cory Henry, Courtney “Bam” Diedrick, Cristina Pato, Damaso Meléndez, Danny Glover, David Casséus, Debora Do Santos, Dianelys Vázquez, Dimitri Dolganov, Dina Elwebidi, Diógenes Villanueva, Django Degen, Donald Harrison and Congo Square Nation, Dr. John, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Dudu Nobre, Dynamic Music Collective, Eduin Valdés Hernández, EduMundo and Caveman, Elián De Hoyos, Elianys de Hoyos, Ellie Goulding, Elsa Molinar, Epsy Campbell Barr, Erubide Arias, Estefani Moreno, Estevenson Padilla Valdés, Eyadou Ag Leche, Fabián Miodownik, Fabrizio Hochschild-Drummond, Fernando Caballero, Fernando “Lobo” Núñez, Francois Viguie, Gabi Melim, Gary Clark Jr., George Porter Jr., Geraldo & Dionisio, Gilberto Muñoz, Grandpa Elliott, Guardians Of The New Fire, Guimel Jimenez, Gustavo Montemurro, Heraldo De Hoyos, Hiromitsu Agatsuma, Hugo Soares, Hutch Hutchinson, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Ibram X. Kendi, Ignacio Mateu, Iluska Quiñones, Ivan Neville, Jack Johnson, Jaguara, Jairo Esquina, Jamal Murray, James Vergneau aka Rebel Layonn, Jason Tamba, Javoci Do Imperio, Jeanine Gall, Jim James, Joao Viana, John Cruz, John Prine, John Herno, Jorge Jiménez, Jorge Williams, José Luis “Bocha” Martínez, José Valdés Terán, Julieta Rada, Junior Kissangwa Mbouta, Karl Perazzo, Kasha Sequoia Slavner, Keb’ Mo’, Keiko Komaki, Keiler Valdés Herrera, Keith Richards, Killer Mike, Kolgate, La Escuelita del Ritmo, Larkin Poe, Lee Oskar, Lindomar Fraga, Los hijos de Benkos, Louis Mhlanga, Lucas Pietro, Lucila Rada, Luis Carlos Cassiani Simarra, Luiz Augusto, Luiz Otavio, Lukas Nelson, Lurielys Albert, Mamadou Sarr, Mambueni Bisalu, Manuel Betegón, Manuel Pérez Salinas, Marcelo Blanco, Marcus King, Marfa Kurakina, Mark Johnson, Mary Ann Ortiz, Massamba Diop, Mateo, Matias Rada, Mbonda Tempelo, Mavis Staples, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird, Mermans Mosengo, Meshell Ndegeocello, Mestra Joana Cavalcante, Michelle Bachelet, Mickey Hart (Grateful Dead), MishCatt, Mohammed Alidu, Nasreen Sheikh, Natalia Kanem (UNFPA), Nathaniel Rateliff, Nayelis Boltier, Nelson Cedres, Nelson Rangel, Nielson Do Tamborim, Nikki Burt, Noé Núñez, Norm, Norman Lear, Ousseynou and Assane Kaba, Papa Lusamba, “Papi” Felix Garemua, Paulo Heman, Peter Bunetta, Peter Gabriel, Playing For Change Band, Playing For Change Foundation, Pokei Klaas, POPO, Prince Ea, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Rajeev Shrestha, Reggie McBride, Renan Silva, Rhiannon Giddens, Ringo Starr, Robbie Robertson, Robert Randolph, Roberto Luti, Robin Moxey, Roger Ridley, Rubén Rada, Rudson Daniel and Enio Taquari, Rui Dinis, Run The Jewels with Josh Homme, Sanjay Shrestha, Santiago Luzacando, Sara Bareilles, Sean “Pow” Diedrick, Sebastian Robertson, Sexteto Tabala, Sheila E., Shemekia Copeland, Sherieta Lewis and Roselyn Williams, Silkroad, Sinamuva, Skip Marley and Cedella Marley, Sol Homar, Songhoy Blues, Stefano Tomaselli, Taikoproject, Taimane, Tal Wilkenfeld, Tatiana Muñoz, The Cape Town Ensemble, The War and Treaty, Tia Vilma, Tito Puente Jr., Toumani Diabaté, TP OK Jazz, Tuca Da Cuica, Tula Ben Ari, Tushar Lall, Twanguero, Twin Eagle Drum Group, Venkat, Victor Gabriel Castro, Victor Jiménez, Vientos de Cordoba, Vusi Mahlasela, Washboard Chaz, Welele Doubout, Whitney Kroenke Silverstein, Wilbert Valdés Torres, Williams Callender, Yo-Yo Ma, Yu Hatakeyama, ZEPA, Zulu Choir
In April, the members of the Playing For Change Band made their 6th appearance at the Byron Bay Bluesfest in Australia. This was the festival’s 30th year anniversary, and it featured a lineup of renowned world musicians such as Iggy Pop, Norah Jones, George Clinton, Mavis Staples, and Gary Clark Jr., as well as some PFC favorites like Jack Johnson, Keb’ Mo’, and Larkin Poe.
Byron Bay Bluesfest
From humble beginnings, the Byron Bay Bluesfest has grown to become one of the world’s largest venues for live blues music. The festival has attracted international attention by featuring some of the biggest names in music, routinely drawing in global audiences numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
In the past, Bluesfest has been headlined by the likes of Bob Dylan, BB King, John Mayer, John Legend, Angélique Kidjo, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, and many more outstanding artists. It has also led rise to the annual Boomerang Festival, a ground-breaking Indigenous arts festival for all Australians featuring an array of music, dance, theatre, comedy, and film, all to celebrate the heritage of first nations people.
As the Byron Bay Bluesfest continues to grow, its yearly celebrations of music, culture, and community have grown far beyond their blues, jazz, and roots beginnings, becoming a world stage home to Australia.
Playing For Change Band
For the past 6 years, the PFC Band has been honored to connect with international audiences on one of Australia’s greatest stages. Although the band has seen many new faces and friends throughout the years, the mission to “connect the world through music” has always remained the same.
With Titi and Tula, Mermans and Tamba, Keiko, Roberto, Robin, Chantz, and more, the band was in full swing by the time they arrived in Byron Bay, having just played together in Bahrain a few weeks prior. They also managed to play a second show while in Sydney that same weekend, sharing the music with as many people as they could.
At the heart and soul of the PFC Band, we were overjoyed to see Grandpa Elliott make his way down under, gracing the Australian audiences with his profound bellowing voice and uplifting harmonica chimes.
In anticipation for the band’s 6th appearance at the Byron Bay Bluesfest, organizers wrote:
“Playing for Change is back to share their powerful live performance with everyone at Bluesfest this Easter 2019. The unique fusion of influences and music from more than seven countries allows for an extremely special performance. United in purpose and in chorus, everyone is touched by music’s unifying power!“