October 21, 2009 Edition

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Changing
the world

Vivian Heyl
Staff Writer

A couple of years ago my husband began writing a diary on the Daily Kos website titled "Music That Changed the World." This was a huge undertaking and required considerable research. The diary was interactive and allowed others to contribute their opinions and ideas about that day's postings.

Many of them also suggested songs, writers and performers they believed to have made a contribution. As the topic suggests, the music must have had a significant impact on its listeners. "Amazing Grace" was one of those songs that changed the world according to one of his articles.

Wikipedia supports his stand with the following, "Written by John Newton in 1772 "Amazing Grace" has become the most translated gospel song of all time. It has since become an anthem for many activists on both religious and non-religious platforms."

Since I read the posts I have become attuned to the concept that music has had an important role in human history.

As I was channel surfing the guide one day I came across a PBS show "Playing For Change" which was being broadcast that night. Since it was one of those double-meaning titles I thought I would check it out. It began with a street musician with an open guitar case lying beside him playing for change on a sidewalk in Santa Monica, Calif. He was singing "Stand By Me," and as I watched the scene shifted to another time and place and another voice picked up the music. This happened over and over, interspersed with the filmmakers talking about how and why they had decided to pursue such an incredibly difficult project.

Four years in the making, the film crew traveled all over the world filming musicians as they played the same songs. Songs that speak to the need for peace, understanding and working together to achieve a changed world.

The sheer magnitude of piecing all these different performances together to make a cohesive film boggles the mind. It worked though and the resulting film contains music that will change the world. The songs flow with each section continuing the performance in a seamless fashion. Such songs as "One Love," "War/No More Trouble" and "A Change Is Gonna Come" are sung from the United States to Africa, Israel to Ireland, Nepal to France, India to Italy and so on and on, bringing the message that it is one world and one race, the human race. By working together and by putting aside the idea that we are somehow different, we can put an end to the endless conflict which has plagued humanity since its birth.

The proceeds from CD/DVD sales are being used for humanitarian projects in many different countries, including building music schools that will teach children how to tap into their own creativity as well as the basic tools they will need to grow and learn. The project has grown considerably and includes a new effort "Peace Through Music" that invites communities to screen the film through screening parties.

For more information on Playing for Change visit playingforchange.com; to read Music That Changed the World visit hairylarry.dailykos.com.

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