Friday, April 10, 2009

Beyond PHENOMENAL: Playing For Change

Playing For Change began as a celebration of street musicians in the U.S. that focused on performers in NYC, LA, and New Orleans. Consider this June 2006 PFC blog post about a trip PFC folks took to New Orleans as the city struggled to recover from the humiliation and devastation of Hurricane Katrina. One of the staff wrote of a singular moment during a performance by “Grandpa,” who’s sung “on the same corner for some 20 plus years…sending his formidable tenor and bellowing bass to greet loyal passer-byers and all those who’d listen.”:

“I was standing kitty-corner to Grandpa while [other PFC staffers] were recording a song about Louisiana, and I was taking some still shots. I stopped to take in a moment where everything around us just seemed to stop…all I could hear was his beautiful voice, when suddenly I was startled by a man standing right behind me practically breathing over my shoulder. He said to me softly, ‘His voice has made me smile for so many years. I thought we had lost him. But he’s back and so are we.’ The man was not there to converse, just to listen, chime in, and be on his way. I stood breathless as Grandpa sang, ‘They’re trying to wash us away…’ and he sang the words again, and then one more time.”

Within the next year, Playing For Change had expanded its focus to include performers from across the globe. In 2008, its documentary/“global concert film” Playing for Change: Peace Through Music debuted at the Tribecca Film Festival and won the Audience Award at the Woodstock Film Festival.

Watch the remarkable, impossible-to-ever-forget “Stand By Me” music video featured on the PFC site; Grandpa’s voice truly is beautiful, even moreso when it’s woven into a tapestry of voices and instrumentals from around the world. Talk about performances fueled by passion and purpose. As PFC founder, co-director and producer Mark Johnson wrote in a blog post last November:

“This act of playing music with different cultures, religions, economics, and politics is a powerful statement. It…illustrates that we can find ways of working together and sharing our experiences with one another in a positive way. Before we were ever different, we were all human beings.”

Later this month the Playing For Change CD/DVD Songs Around the World will be released and yes, I’ve preordered it. Thanks (once again!) to Lisa Kenney for such an inspiring link. I am so looking forward to enjoying Songs Around the World and learning more about Playing For Change in the future. Oh yeah, they build schools too. Wow.


Blogger Lisa said...

And I got the link from the wonderful Debra Bures at From Skilled Hands. I can't wait to see more videos from this project. It's the "feel good" reminder we all need.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

Wow is the word. Your link reminded me of the amazing street musicians we saw when we were in New Orleans. (We still listen to the homemade CD we bought from a first rate jazz band.) I followed your lead and pre-ordered Songs Around the World. Thank you, K.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Lisa, I'm not surprised you learned of this from Debra! Patry, I remember you writing about that New Orleans trip. You're very welcome! Hugs, K.

10:40 PM  
Blogger debra said...

I've posted another video on my blog today, and the third will be up tomorrow.
The arts transcend differences and make connections. There are no borders and there is no nationalism.
We are one.

5:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this.

6:45 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

You're very welcome, Gerry!

Debra, you obviously picked the right line of work! Or did the arts pick you?

1:30 PM  
Blogger debra said...

I think it's a bit of both, Karen. I think it's like that for many of us.
We create because we have to.

7:32 AM  

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