Stand By Me – 10 Years Later

“My name is Roger Ridley and I’m in the joy business, I come out here to be with the people…”

Roger Ridley performing “Stand By Me” at the Santa Monica Promenade.

These were the words I heard in my first interview with Roger Ridley before he sat down to perform “Stand By Me” for the small crowd on the Santa Monica promenade back in 2004.  Neither one us could have imagined or even dreamed that this particular performance would be the catalyst to so many people seeing the world in a new and brighter way.  It was, of course, our first ever attempt at creating a Song Around The World—a song created by us traveling with a mobile studio and cameras to record and film each musician in their natural environment as they each add a new layer to the track. We had no expectations but just a strong will to see if music can unite the world.

10 years later, after witnessing over 100 million people watch “Stand By Me” on YouTube across about 195 countries, I reflect on this performance with Roger and 25 other musicians performing together around the world.  A great song, soul, and talent have proven to be one of the great unifiers in this divided world and I believe this is something Roger Ridley knew every day of his life.  He didn’t just come out on the streets to be with the people; he came out there to connect them in a deeper way, with a song, as his heroes had done before him.

Grandpa Elliott performing in New Orleans

I also reflect on Roger’s soul brother, Grandpa Elliott, who was the second singer on “Stand By Me” around the world.  I remember him as this beautiful character with a red shirt, blue overalls, and the Santa Claus beard.  When I met him he had been performing on the streets of New Orleans for over 50 years!! Roger and Grandpa share a powerful musical quality in the conviction of what they do.  The audience doesn’t just hear the song; they feel it in their soul.

Bhakani Memela

The journey creating “Stand By Me” was full of searching for soul around the world and we found it everywhere we went.  A friend introduced me through email to Bhakani Memela in Umlazi, South Africa who was the musical director for a vocal group named Sinamuva.  I had first heard this type of singing with their local legends, Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

When the crew and I arrived in the township to work with Sinamuva we heard these amazing voices coming from a small shack in the dark behind Bhakani’s house.  They were singing the choruses of “Stand By Me” in their native Zulu Language and it blew us all away!! The group was about 10 singers in total and their voices merged into a sound so full of love and power that I knew at that moment we were discovering something special with this attempt at a Song Around The World.

Clarence Bekker performing in Barcelona

The final singer on “Stand By Me” is the great Clarence Bekker from the Netherlands.   We met him in Barcelona after asking around the city for the best soul singer in town.   He agreed to perform on the Song Around The World and added his powerful voice for the second verse,

“If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall,
Or the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me.”

It’s amazing to look back at his performance and realize he is singing as if the sky is tumbling and the mountains are crumbling and somehow some way we are going to make it as a human race.  We will stand by each other no matter what!!  That’s what I feel when I hear him sing and I imagine many others around the world feel the same way.  No matter how many things in life divide us they will never be as strong as the power of music to bring us back together.  This is one of the lessons I learned traveling the world recording and filming “Stand By Me.”

Mark Johnson with kids in South Africa

The one group we are all a part of is humanity and the music will always be there to re-connect our hearts and our souls. Everyone out there, this is YOUR SONG, it was made just for you.  Thanks for sharing in this journey with Playing For Change and thanks to all the musicians who made it possible!

One Love,

Mark Johnson

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.

 

Rasta Children | Of Roots & Reggae

“One evening, a few years ago in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, the PFC crew and I were waiting for an 80-year-old cuica player to perform on a Song Around The World. I remember it seemed to take forever for him to make it down the hill, as he would stop off in every bar along the way for a drink and some conversation.  As we waited I looked and saw a Rastaman walking across the street with his acoustic guitar in hand. I waved to him and he came over to see what we were doing with all our equipment. I told him about Playing For Change and he agreed to play a song for us while we were waiting. The result was an incredible, spontaneous performance of Dennis Brown’s ‘Rasta Children.’  His voice reminded me of Peter Tosh and he sang with so much soul that we realized this could be an amazing Song Around The World. Just one man and his guitar playing on the street set the tone for this song and we added a worldwide band of roots musicians around him. ‘I and I deal with humanity…'”

– Mark Johnson, PFC Co-Founder


Rasta Children’s Roots

“Rasta Children” was released in 1979 by Dennis Brown, who was known as The Crown Prince of Reggae. One of Bob Marley’s favorite singers, Brown led a prolific career having recorded more than 75 albums throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. It was actually in Brazil where his journey would end—falling ill with pneumonia in 1999 and dying of a collapsed lung days later. Yet, while his physical journey on this earth would come to a close, his musical legacy continues to live on years later thanks to a chance encounter in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.

With help from 16 different musicians across 6 different countries, PFC’s rendition of “Rasta Children” is a beautiful melting pot of talent. Of course, the Rastaman mentioned above is Paulo César “da Luz” Pereira, whom we met back in 2011. As he was the true inspiration for this Song Around The World, we are lucky considering all of the forces that allowed our paths to cross. Had it not been for the popularity of the 80-year-old cuica player, we may never have been able to capture such an organic and truly special performance, nor could we have gone on to share it with musicians and supporters around the world.

This meeting shows us the beauty in the world just waiting to be discovered, and the chance encounters that bring these moments to reality. One such story is that of another musician in this collaboration, Brushy One String, who began his career many years ago as a street musician in Jamaica. With an uncanny similarity to PFC’s earliest beginnings, a filmmaker named Luciano Blotta was leaving a Jamaican recording studio when he noticed a man on the corner playing an old acoustic guitar with only one string. After recording his song, “Chicken in the Corn,” Blotta left Jamaica only to find the video blow up on the internet with thousands of people suddenly showing their love and support for Brushy. Since then, he has led a full career performing in places like France, Argentina, Japan, and the U.S., while continuing to play throughout Jamaica. It seemed only fitting, then, that Brushy join with PFC to record “Rasta Children” in his hometown of Ocho Rios, and continue to promote a life dedicated to peace and unity through music:

“If we can change the words and melodies and bring back the love, we can have a balance between God and man,” Brushy reflects. “That’s what we need to put the world together.”

Brushy One String


Nattali Rize

Very much in frequency with Rasta Children’s nature sits Nattali Rize, a roots-rock-and-reggae rebel queen who has earned international fame as a singer/songwriter and social activist. Beginning as a street percussionist in Byron Bay, Australia, her career has grown through her dedication to an urban roots collective, Blue King Brown, and on to building her own band, changing her name from Natalie Pa’apa’a to Nattali Rize to reflect Bob Marley’s lyrics for “Rise Up.” With an emboldened attitude, Nattali Rize’s performances are praised for their, “epic, high energy, thought-provoking and uplifting live performances,” (Nattali Rize). Another featured musician in “Rasta Children” that deserves just as much credit to the success of Nattali Rize is Carlo Santone, a bandmate, manager, and partner of Nattali’s, who has worked with her since 2004.

Currently, Nattali Rize is just coming off a West Coast California tour, and will continue performing her latest album, Rebel Frequency, throughout France until the end of August. The full album is available by following the link above, and it boasts just as much of its Rastafarian roots while blending her own New-Era style and humanitarian message.

“Never forget, we are one human family and no one, man or woman or child, is illegal. We are the pioneers of a paradigm change and creators of a new world!”

Nattali Rize

Nattali Rize has embraced her deeply rooted rebel nature but continues to deliver her work with a refreshingly new style and feel that is unique to her world and her mission.


New Feature: PFC Musician Tour Dates

We are introducing a new feature on the Playing For Change website. Now on musician pages, along with photos, featured videos, and related links and musician accounts, we will also be promoting individual tours and shows happening around the world. You can view our entire musician tour schedule by following the musician tour dates link above, as well as access individual events by searching for your favorite artists’ PFC page.

While this is an ongoing process, you can expect more tour information to be uploaded and updated regularly as we are always collecting new and amazing musicians. One of our longtime friends, Roberto Luti, will be performing in Denmark with Luke Winslow-King this August. Find more information about these events by following the link provided.

Roberto Luti’s Tour Schedule: https://playingforchange.com/musicians/roberto-luti/


Quote of the Day:

“Playing For Change, man all my life I’ve been putting out love, but not like that.”

Grandpa Elliott


Photo of the Day: Bo Hème, @boheme.69

Special thank you to Bo Hème for this amazing portrait of Grandpa Elliott and for your continued support of the Playing For Change movement and its members.


Video of the Day: Happy Birthday Grandpa Elliott!

Please enjoy this glimpse into the amazing life and journey of Grandpa Elliott, one of the longest standing PFC musicians, and the closest to our hearts.

One Love,

Playing For Change

Listen to the Music Contest | nana music

Playing For Change is proud to join our partner, nanafor the “Listen to the Music” Contest!

Collaborate with musicians from around the world using official Playing For Change tracks exclusively available on the nana app. Nana will carefully hand-select 20 finalists from all submissions and the PFC team will choose the “Best Collaboration” and “Outstanding Collaboration” to win some special prizes.

DOWNLOAD THE APP

 

STEP 1: Learn the original song

STEP 2: Choose which track you would like to collaborate on and record

>Check out the official tracks by Playing For Change

>Go to the track you want to collaborate on and Hit the Collab button to add your sounds

For Singers: You can sing solo or sing with the backing chorus. You can also add some harmony or ad-libs to it.

For Musicians: You can play your instrumental tracks and build on sounds.

STEP 3: Post with hashtag #nanaPFC

NOTE:

Posts without the hashtag above will be disqualified.

Posts without any singing voice or instrumental sound will also be disqualified.

PRIZES

Best Collaboration

>1 year PFC membership including an audio digital download of the “Listen to the Music” album and access to PFC’s entire music library

>PFC Shop e-Gift Card (worth $50 USD)

>Receive a special shout-out on PFC social media

Outstanding Collaboration

>3 month PFC Membership

>Receive a special shout-out on PFC social media

 

http://nana-music.com

About nana music

Music social app “nana” is a social community where you can “record & post,” “collaborate & share,” whenever and wherever you are with your smartphone. Since its release in August 2012, more than 6 million registered users across the globe are collaborating and enjoying a global music session. Learn more about nana.

The International Songwriting Competition Wants Your Songs!

ISC2016_LOGO300X300
Regular Deadline: September 9, 2016

Extended Deadline: September 10 – November 4, 2016

One of the most respected songwriting competitions throughout the world, ISC is known for being a launching pad for music and songwriting careers.  More than $150,000 in cash and merchandise will be awarded to 71 winners, including a Grand Prize of $25,000 in cash.

To enter, go to http://www.songwritingcompetition.com

Have your music heard by some of the biggest names in the music industry. Renowned for having prestigious celebrity and industry judges, ISC has an impressive line-up for 2016, including: Tom Waits, Chris Cornell, Ziggy Marley, Bastille, Lorde, Sara Evans, Donovan, India Arie, Mike Stern, Joe Bonamassa, Marti Maguire (Dixie Chicks), Joy Williams (The Civil Wars), Ryan Bingham, Salif Keita, Vijay Iyer, and more – plus top industry executives from major record labels including Craig Kallman (Chairman/CEO, Atlantic Records), Dan McCarroll (President, Warner Bros.), Seymour Stein (Chairman/CEO, Sire Records), Daniel Glass (President, Glassnote Records), Craig Balsam (Co-Owner, Razor & Tie), John Esposito (Chairman/CEO, Warner Music Nashville), Steve Yegelwel (Senior VP, Island Records) and many more.

Categories include: AAA (Adult Album Alternative), AC (Adult Contemporary), Americana, Blues, Children’s Music, Comedy/Novelty, Country, EDM (Electronic Dance Music), Folk/Singer-Songwriter, Christian, Instrumental, Jazz, Latin Music, Lyrics Only, Music Video, Performance, Pop/Top 40, R&B/Hip-Hop, Rock, Teen, World Music, Unpublished, and Unsigned Only. Entrants may submit as many songs as they wish – in the same category or in multiple categories.

NEW IN ISC 2016

This year ISC has added a new category called Unpublished.  We all know how important publishing is to an artist – it is one of the major sources of revenue, but it is so difficult to get your music heard by publishing companies. So, ISC is taking steps to open the doors for you by having established, high-profile publishers as judges for this category only. This is your chance to get your music heard by publishers who can help your songwriting career. Songs entered into Unpublished cannot be owned in any part by a music publishing company (entrant must own 100% of the publishing rights to the song). Songs entered into the Unpublished category must also be entered into at least one other category (excluding the Unsigned Only category). Entries in this category will be entered in ISC 2016 and be eligible for all associated prizes.

Join the ranks of past winners Vance Joy, Kimbra, Goyte, The Band Perry, Passenger, For King and Country, Bastille, Kasey Chambers, Gin Wigmore and many others – and enter your songs now.