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 the 50 years since its release, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” has become a timeless classic of Otis Redding‘s and a permanent landmark in our world’s musical history. By the age of 26, his music had reached the heights of Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, and touched the ears of millions of listeners from across the world. Despite his passing at an early age, Otis Redding left a legacy of music that will continue to span the generations as songs like “Dock of the Bay” retain their relevant nature and timeless touch.
As a young artist, Otis Redding was already bursting with talent. He began as a gospel singer in the Vineville Baptist Church choir where he also picked up the guitar and the piano, and later, drums. By age 10, he found weekly employment singing on WIBB radio in Macon, Georgia, and later, compete in a radio talent show called, “The Teenage Party,” which he would go on to win 15-consecutive times. Having left school at a young age to support his family, Otis Redding‘s future was now beginning to reveal itself, and upon leaving his home in Georgia, he and his sister, Deborah, would make the move out to Los Angeles where he could officially begin his career.
It did not take long before Otis found his rhythm, first through his recordings of popular ballads, and later by writing, recording, and performing his own songs. Some of his greatest work includes, “These Arms of Mine,” “Try A Little Tenderness,” “Respect” (yes, that Respect), “Mr. Pitiful,” and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” At the height of his career, “Dock of the Bay” would become Otis Redding‘s most successful song, with its final version recorded just days before his untimely death at the age of 26. “Dock of the Bay” marked a transition in Otis’ career that was highlighted by his masterful expression of soul, coupled with the gentle despair of the blues. Throughout his career, Otis Redding maintained an articulate simplicity in his songwriting, filling the space with just as many words as emotions, once saying:
“There is beauty in simplicity whether you are talking about architecture, art or music.”
At Playing For Change, our appreciation for the work of Otis Redding goes back to the very beginning with Roger Ridley‘s unforgettable performances of “Stand By Me” and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” In honor of his influence within our organization, and in light of the impact his legacy has had on connecting the world through music, we partnered with the Otis Redding Foundation and Princess Cruises to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Dock of the Bay” with its very own Song Around The World. Featuring artists Jack Johnson, Corinne Bailey Rae, Aloe Blacc, Otis Redding III, Dexter Redding, Otis Redding Foundation Students, and more; this video takes you from the San Francisco Bay to the streets of Barcelona to the seas of Jamaica and beyond.
“This was such a wonderful way to celebrate 50 years of ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,’ and certainly an appropriate and heartwarming way to honor and remember the legacy of my husband.”
-Zelma Redding, President of Otis Redding Foundation
Peace Through Music
With special thanks to all those who participated in the 50th anniversary tribute to Otis Redding‘s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” we are proud to announce that the proceeds from this video will benefit the Otis Redding Foundation and the Playing For Change Foundation. Both organizations support youth empowerment through music education, and further our mutual dream to bring peace through music.