Listen. Watch. Change. (Then share your ideas with us.)

On Wisconsin Public Television Tuesday night, a 57-minute version of the feature-length documentary Playing for Change: Peace through Music premieres.

The video follows record producer Mark Johnson’s multimedia, multicontinent music project, which he says, “was born out of the idea that we have to inspire each other to come together as a human race, and that music is the best way to do this.” Sure, change is a word made trite in 2008, but there’s nothing trite about these artists or these songs.

Below, a cover of the tune that started it all, Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me.” The musicians in the clip had never met each other, and they performed (via Johnson’s mobile recording studio) in locations as distant as Santa Monica, New Orleans,  Zuni, New Mexico, Amsterdam, Caracas, Barcelona and Umlazi, South Africa:

Because I manage the Web site PortalWisconsin.org, I’m intrigued by Playing for Change. Our site’s mission is to support Wisconsin’s arts, culture, humanities and history, and we do this by bringing arts and culture lovers together with visual and literary artists, performers, authors, scholars and historians from around the state.

After learning about Mark Johnson’s project, I’m wondering how we can use PortalWisconsin.org to extend our reach — from Milwaukee to Lac du Flambeau to La Crosse, and all the places in between. Using the resources we have in place, how can we bring arts and culture to your children’s schools, to your neighborhoods and to your lives? Even more exciting to me right now, how might PortalWisconsin.org become a place where we inspire residents from the state’s farthest reaches to come together to create, much like Mark Johnson has?

Watch Playing for Change on WPT at 8:30 p.m., August 4; view Bill Moyers’ interview with Mark Johnson online;  or listen to an archived interview of Johnson conducted by Wisconsin Public Radio‘s own Jean Feraca (visit Here on Earth‘s April archive, and select April 21).

Then, send PortalWisconsin.org your comments and ideas. You can contact us at portalwisconsin@wpt.org, call us toll-free at 866-558-4766 or use the comment form below to post your thoughts to this blog.

–Tammy Kempfert

2 Responses to Listen. Watch. Change. (Then share your ideas with us.)

  1. Marie Sprinter says:

    Music cuts through resistance and red tape like nothing else–what a powerful connector and merging of cultures for the common good of all.

    Way to go Portal for the article and the challenge to find new ideas to connect all parts of Wisconsin!

  2. Thanks for pointing to this. I’ll watch the interview online. It’s amazing how the relatively simple ideas can have such a powerful impact. This is kind of like the “Where the Hell is Matt” guy who dances in all of those different places. The connection between us and everyone else around the word builds with each beat.

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