Music can be exciting, informative, inspiring, provocative, annoying, enticing and emotional. Above all though, music cuts across cultures. I remember the first time I listened to some chiness Music a friend gave to me as a gift. I did not understand a word in the whole Mandarin album but trust me, I nodded and smiled as I listened to the album. It is one of the best gifts I ever received from anyone. That is because I love music. I get up in the morning to a song and go back to bed listening to another song.
I recently stumbled on one song on youtube by a band known as Playing for Change and the song “What’s Up? . My musical taste changes all the time but I am as voracious a music consumer as I am a food addict. For the past two months, I can literally count the number of days I did not get up or sleep listening to “What’s up? The song is a stimulating 12.51 minutes of pure golden music. I am listening to it now as I write this.
What’s up? is a cover of a 1993 hit single by now disbanded American rock band 4 Non Blondes. The song ends with a reggae rendition of Bobby McFerrin’s classic “Dont Worry be happy”.
Until four years ago, Playing for Change did not exists. The name of the band is also a multimedia music project, created by the American producer and sound engineer Mark Johnson with his Timeless Media Group, that seeks to bring together musicians from around the world. It’s official website notes that Playing for Change was created to “inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world..
The results have been amazing. The ambitious aim of the project was to connect musicians from across the world from their homeland America, through Africa to Europe and Asia. To achieve that, they needed to have some really great technological help and so they “ built a mobile recording studio, equipped with all the same equipment used in the best studios, and traveled to wherever the music took us. As technology changed, our power demands were downsized from golf cart batteries to car batteries, and finally to laptops. Similarly, the quality with which we were able to film and document the project was gradually upgraded from a variety of formats– each the best we could attain at the time—finally to full HD.
One thing that never changed throughout the process was our commitment to create an environment for the musicians in which they could create freely and that placed no barriers between them and those who would eventually experience their music.
The band mainly covers songs by other musicians with the help of modern technology. Bob Marley who died in 1982 even features in one of the songs
In a single recording, musicians from four continents sing the same song, a triumph of technology and some brilliant video editing.
In 2007, the project was extended and a Playing for Change Foundation was created. Its aim is to fund community projects that will benefit the people.
The founder hopes to extend the project and bring the universality of music to everybody. “ Musicians from all over the world are brought together to perform benefit concerts that build music and art schools in communities that are in need of inspiration and hope. In addition to benefit concerts, the Playing for Change band also performs shows around the world. When audiences see and hear musicians who have traveled thousands of miles from their homes, united in purpose and chorus on one stage, everyone is touched by music’s unifying power.
And now, everyone can participate in this transformative experience by joining the Playing for Change Movement. People are hosting screenings, musicians are holding benefit concerts of every size, fans are spreading the message of Playing for Change through our media, and this is only the beginning. Together, we will connect the world through music!.
CB Milton aka Clarence Bekker is the Rastafarian lead of the band Playing for Change.. He is a black Dutch musician who describes himself as a “Euro house vocalist best known for three songs, “It’s a loving thing”, “Open your heart” and “Send me an Angel”
Some of their best songs for me are
What a wonderful World
Stand by me.
Enjoy the music while you can.