Monday, September 28, 2009

Mad About Music Mondays - Playing For Change

Playing for Change is an inspirational musical project put together by film director Mark Johnson. The project originated four years ago on the Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade as he recorded street musician Roger Ridley singing "Stand by Me". He then traveled the globe recording mostly street artists performing in their element. He reinforced these performances by a handful of more-polished acts (several choirs, and even U2's Bono.)
He not only put together an album of wonderful songs featuring artists from virtually every corner of the globe, but he documented most of this on film for the movie, "Peace Through Music." I saw a good portion of this film on PBS in September as he was promoting this entire project. I was deeply moved by the story of Roger Ridley who Mark Johnson says is the spirit behind this project.

Roger Ridley was a street musician that inspired Mark Johnson to pursue this project. Roger was so humble in his nature that while being filmed and recorded for an international music project he never revealed such to his wife. Shortly before the project's release Roger was sent a DVD of Stand By Me cut and edited with all of the musicians worldwide. Roger called Mark after being drawn to tears while watching it and he couldn't believe that Mark had actually put it all together.

Shortly after Roger passed away from a heart condition, his wife still not knowing about the performance or project at all. His wife while still mourning for her husband, went to the TV for some entertainment. Pressing a wrong button on the controller she had pressed play on the DVD player. Roger's copy of Stand by Me still in the DVD player started to play for his widowed wife. She was overemotional and immediately called Mark to thank him for Roger's involvement in such a worldly project. Now we all have the ability to enjoy Roger's performances for all time in the music of Playing for Change and the documentary about it's making Peace Through Music. Without further ado, here is the crown jewel of this project, Roger Ridley and other musicians from around the World playing Ben E. King's classic Stand By Me.


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