“Everyone deserves music.” Michael Franti
It is said that music is the universal language. It is a language that cuts through all social and cultural barriers, and hits us straight in the heart and soul. Some also say that humans have our origins in the music of the spheres, that we are literally ‘frozen music.’ The first time I heard that phrase it captured my imagination utterly. Frozen music?! How lyrical, how beautiful, how mysterious!
Music has many meanings and messages for humanity. It can be made on many levels, from the most basic level of rhythm and simplest melody, to the most complex and intricate weavings and layerings of a symphony orchestra. We all have our favorite songs and melodies, our tastes change and grow over the course of living, and yet, I believe that inside us all there is a place that music touches our deepest feelings, brings us alive, gives us a particular kind of joy that cannot be had anywhere else. Music is one of the greatest gifts we have been given by our creators, which we then give to each other in turn.
These days I have taken to listening to music often through Youtube. I love Youtube because not only can I find nearly any song or piece of music I would like to hear in the moment, but also, and perhaps more importantly, because of the opportunity it gives to almost any musician to upload their music and share it with the world. It is an unprecedented opportunity for young musicians of all backgrounds and cultures (nearly) to play music and be heard by people across the globe. How amazing is that!!
Recently I discovered a wonderful group of musicians and supporters, called Playing for Change. This group of people goes around the world, finding and recording musicians who come together to play a particular song together, through the use of virtual technology. The results are brilliant. A street musician in Los Angeles might start the song, and then others join in, playing perhaps in Rio de Janeiro, Jamaica, France, The Netherlands, Israel, various countries in Africa, the list goes on. The music is simply wonderful, filled with spirit and heart and hope. They often record well-known songs, carefully chosen to be uplifting and joyful, spiritual and soulful. The introduction on Playing for Change’s website tells their story:
“Playing for Change is a multimedia movement 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.
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. By leading with that energy and intent everywhere we traveled, we were freely given access to musicians and locations that are usually inaccessible. In this respect, the inspiration that originally set us on this path became a co-creator of the project along with us!
Over the course of this project, we decided it was not enough for our crew just to record and share this music with the world; we wanted to create a way to give back to the musicians and their communities that had shared so much with us. And so in 2007 we created the Playing for Change Foundation, a separate nonprofit corporation whose mission is to do just that. In early 2008, we established Timeless Media, a for-profit entity that funds and extends the work of Playing for Change. Later that year, Timeless Media entered into a joint venture with the Concord Music Group. Our goal is to bring PFC’s music, videos and message to the widest possible audience.
Now, 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!” http://www.playingforchange.com/journey/introduction
If you go to Youtube and type in Playing for Change, you will find many of their wonderful songs. Last night I spent a couple of hours listening to their playlist of nearly 50 songs, by musicians around the world. Some of the most touching songs were covers of Higher Ground, by Stevie Wonder, One Love by Bob Marley, an outstanding version of Over the Rainbow & What a Wonderful World combined, Imagine by John Lennon, and a super-great cover of I’d Rather Go Blind by Etta James. I heard songs by wonderful African musicians, Columbian musicians, Jamaican musicians, and a very soulful and mystical song by a large group of musicians from all over Anatolia, singing and playing an old folk song for the Black Sea region and it’s nature.
Listening to all of these songs and watching so many beautiful musicians singing and playing from their heart and soul, filled me with a kind of awe and the realization that music may be the most powerful force for change that exists in our world today. In the face of every conceivable degradation and destruction of our earth and her people, when the odds seem so against Life itself, as the forces of evil and death seem nearly unbeatable, hearing all of this extraordinary music, played simultaneously by people around the world who are united in the cause of Peace, Love and Humanity’s worth, was a revelation to me. A quote from their video of Imagine, by John Lennon, says, “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is a reality.”
Dear Readers, if you love humanity and music and peace, please go to Youtube and watch Playing for Change’s videos. Go to their website and read more about their organization and see their videos there as well. Find out all of the wonderful things that bringing people together for a united dream of peace is doing in our world. And then, if you are inspired, find a friend or a dozen, and make music together! Music for love, for change, for a peaceful future world. We are united in our hearts and souls and spirits, those of us who want it. We only need to reach out and realize that, no matter what it seems from outer appearances, we are One People, and we have tremendous power in that.